What a day! I’m going to have one of our student leaders, David Hannah share!
The day stated out with the devastation tour. In the morning, YWAM came to the house and showed a video that showcased the devastation and ruin of Katrina. Although the images in the video were convicting, many of the students did not fully grasp the magnitude of the destruction caused by The Storm.
Immediately after that, we all got into the vans and drove to the 9th Ward – a particularly poor region of New Orleans that was virtually wiped out when the levee failed. From the first moment the students saw the ruin, they were immediately affected. As we drove the streets, we saw houses that were still in shambles. We saw empty lots pervaded with weeds where houses once stood. We saw “houses” that were simply foundations.
We found a place to park and walked on to an empty lot where our tour guide, John, told us about the 9th Ward. Historically, generations of families would live and die in the same house. Someone’s great grandfather would have bought a house where his children and their children and their children would have lived. It was a common sight for three generations to live under the same roof. John also said that the 9th Ward had developed its own micro community. Small businesses emerged in the residential area giving the residents no reason to leave the area. Often people would live their entire lives in the 9th Ward without ever leaving its borders.
At one point John told the group that the only houses that survived the flood the few that were built on brick foundations. Those that were built on cinderblock foundation floated away. During the debrief, Mr. Miller shared that he moved by the tour. We were driving on used beaten down streets with no houses . There used to be house there and now there is grass and weeds. The ones with brick and foundation were still there. The houses that were built on cinder blocks and were washed away from the storm give us a modern representation of the parable of the wise man who build his house on the rock and the foolish man who built his house on sand.
After the tour, the students returned to the YWAM house to process what they had just experienced. After a while we began cooking the hot dogs to hand out to the homeless. Before we left, we took the time to pray for the food – we wanted it to be an effective way to minister to the homeless under the bridge. It worked.
Upon arriving, we broke up into small groups to hand out the food and bottled water. The goal was to engage them in conversation after giving them the supplies. Although it would have been perfectly understandable for the student to be hesitant and fearful of talking to a stranger whose lives are a completely different lifestyle, they took to it like a fish to water. The students showed boldness and courage and were able to converse with some of the people under the bridge.
Some of the stories shared during the debrief include:
- Somebody accidently dropped a pamphlet while handing out supplies and another group happened to walk by and pick it up. Immediately after that, they encountered their first homeless person who did not believe in God. When they offered to pray for him, he said, “I’d prefer if you didn’t. I’m not ready to get right yet. I – I would just rather not.” But when the students turned to leave, the man noticed the pamphlet and asked to see it. After thumbing though it, he decided to keep it to read later. The students saw this as a glimmer of hope for the homeless man and have been actively praying that the Lord will use that information in the pamphlet to help bring that man to Him.
- Talking to the homeless, it amazed me that we have similar problems – either I’d gone through or I know people who have gone through the same thing. They just need to tell their story – how they got through it – it was important to them to tell others about it – and some of them really have a relationship with God and are trying to grow in their relationship just like us
- We all were made for fellowship. Some we met had some fellowship going on – sometimes not healthy but it was fellowship – it shows how relational we are – being positive with one another – one word can tear down or build up – your acts of kindness can be the most meaningful thing
- The homeless, they have nothing and they have faith – we having everything and we lose our faith
We ended the evening’s debrief praying over what we saw and who we met! Please pray for us as we are still processing what we experienced today! Every moment counts!. Life can change drastically in a moment. Relationships are important And the most important relationship of all – ours with Jesus – can help us … when disaster strikes and him in us can make every moment count!
Tomorrow we go and prayer walk the crisis pregnancy and hear some great stories of rescue! Then we’ll go to the French market for food and souvenirs. In the afternoon we’ll do one more practice run through for our ministry with the children in the government housing that YWAM works with all the time!
Everyone on the team drew a name today of someone else. They are keeping that name a secret and asking God to let them see that person through His eyes. Tomorrow we’ll tell whose name we drew and then encourage and bless them. Pray for that time of blessing and our last debriefing. It has been a really good trip watching the students not only serve but bond as a class.
Thank for your prayers