Sermon Illustrations

Hurricane Victims’ Suffering Lead Them to Christ

38-year-old Carlotta Bennett was riding out Hurricane Katrina in her attic with her family. The winds had blown her house way off its foundation, and the rising water was threatening to flood the house to the roof and drown the five people in the attic.

Outside the house, 2 huge pecan trees had fallen around the house, one in the front, the other in the back, and they had wedged the house in place and somehow kept it from collapsing.

That’s when her 4-year-old daughter decided it was time to pray. Carlotta said sometime later, “You know, I’ve never been so scared in my life, but that’s when my daughter said, ‘Mama, you’ve got to calm down. Let’s pray.’”

When they finished praying, the water actually started to recede and eventually the family was able to work their way down the attic stairs and into their house. They found that every exit was blocked by the trees that had wedged their house in place and had actually saved their lives the night before.

Carlotta’s husband, took his family by the hand and led them through a window, and all five members walked the few blocks they had to walk to reach a local Middle School that had become a rescue shelter. This is where they would be staying for the next 10 days.

At the middle school, more than 350 people, many of them injured, lived without running water or electricity for the next week and a half. The families would bathe outside from a water spigot. Only later did they find that the water was contaminated.

Inside the school, toilets refused to flush, and conditions became dangerously unhealthy and after five days, most of the families moved outside, where they lived on the parking lot for five more days.

With their world in disarray, and the world seemingly falling down around them, the Bennett’s and other families began to pray for a miracle. In the face of such a disaster, it was the only thing they knew how to do.

Key Illustration, part II:

For more than a week, the Bennett’s suffered in a forgotten corner of Biloxi. The nation’s focus was on flooded New Orleans. Few reporters had waded the waters of Mississippi to see the damage there. However, one news team finally found the families living on a Middle School parking lot. The pictures and the stories were soon beamed around the country.

Rev. Matt Stacy, pastor of Antioch Baptist Church in tiny Pavo, Georgia, decided it was time to act. He arranged for eight busses to pick up the hurricane victims, and bring them to a Baptist Assembly, where 259 people found hot food, comfortable beds, and clean restrooms. Local schools and businesses began donating shoes, clothing, money, and food.

“It was like heaven,” Carlotta Bennett said of her arrival at the assembly in Norman Park. “That’s all I’ve got to say. They had food waiting for us when they got there. They had a wheelchair waiting on me. The next day, I had medicine. We had two beds, and our own bathroom! They took care of us, they really did. We prayed for a miracle, and it came.”

“After this experience, we just changed our lives,” Carlotta said. “We found the Lord – it was time. I saw my life flash before my eyes in that attic, and it was time we did something different.”

Surrounded by the care they received in Georgia, the Bennett’s prayed to receive Christ, and were baptized on Sept. 19, 3 weeks to the day after they first walked away from the hurricane that changed their lives. Carlotta says she’ll never return to her job in a Biloxi casino, and she says the entire family will be committed to Christ, and active in a local church.

You see thru their suffering the Bennett’s came to know Christ. Outside of their suffering and pain, they may NEVER have heard the Gospel or may never have seen the love of God put into motion like that small church in Georgia.

We may never EVER know WHY we have to endure the suffering we have to endure, but believers can rest assured that God is in control and even if we don’t ever find out here… We can know that God was working ALL things for our good!

From a sermon by Bobby Stults, Choose Faith over Suffering, 2/26/2010

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