Summary: After the storm has passed, What then? It’s the best time ever to let our light shine for the Lord.


By Pastor Jim May

This is the first Sunday after the passing of Hurricane Katrina and this has been one of the most trying weeks that we have ever experienced in South Louisiana, and indeed, across the nation. As I speak the evacuation of the city of New Orleans continues. Hundreds of thousands of people are being taken out by air, water and land to temporary shelters all over the nation. In every conceivable mode of transportation, they come – evacuees, refugees, homeless and destitute, seeking help and needing even the very basic things of life: food, water, clothing and a safe place to rest and recuperate. Sadly many have lost their lives while being transported, and the tremendous cost in lives of those who perished in the flood is yet to be revealed. We can only pray that by some miracle, there are as few lives lost as possible.

Everywhere you go in our town, you can meet new friends and see new faces. The lines at the gas pumps; check out lanes at the stores; and restaurants have swelled to twice and three times their normal lengths of only a week ago. The infrastructure and supply chain for the products and services that we all use is stretched to its limits. Yet, by God’s grace, there seems to be a little less confusion with each day that passes. People are trying to return to a normal life, as much as possible and I haven’t heard of one person starving to death, or dying on the street corner in Gonzales for lack of water. All of the problems so far have been little more than a nuisance or an inconvenience as we adjust and make allowances for the newcomers.

Many of the businesses that were once in New Orleans and those areas are relocating to our area. I expect that we shall witness one of the greatest growth rates that we have ever seen as people begin to rebuild their lives. There is nothing for them to go back to now. Every family has been displaced and scattered to the winds. There is much sadness as many don’t know where husbands, children, wives or grandparents have been taken and finding them is like looking for a needle in a haystack for the moment. In time, all of this will be solved, but the mental and emotional scars will likely be there for many years to come.

Many of those that I have talked to that came here seeking help have said that they will not go back. The homes, the neighborhoods, and the city that they once knew exist no more and they have decided to start again, some right where they are, and others are still wondering where to begin again.

I have no doubt that New Orleans will rebound. I don’t doubt that the “Big Easy” will cease from being a party town forever. It will take some time, but the party will go on because people will be searching more than ever before for a place to release, relax and let their inhibitions go free. I am convinced that people will pay whatever price is required to let the good times roll again at the Mari Gras. Alcohol and drugs will help them forget the present sadness and despair. The “fais-do-do”, or dancing in the streets, will be seen again. Once again, the sound of jazz music will drift across Jackson Square and the French Quarter will be alive with people, because people love to have a good time.

There are some who may begin to believe that New Orleans was chosen for judgment because it was such a den of iniquity. Well, there may some truth to that, but let me remind us all that not one pimp, not one murderer, not one drug addict, not one drunk, and not one party animal, in that city, was any more deserving of judgment, nor guilty of any more sin, than anyone else. Was this a judgment from God? I don’t think so, at least not in the form that He brought judgment to Israel and sent them into captivity so many times. Was it a “wake-up call” as one minister emailed to me from Ireland? Yes, I do think that God is trying to get our attention as a nation; in fact he is trying to get the whole world to turn back to him in repentance. The “wake-up calls” are growing louder.

9-11 was a “wake-up call” and it shook the nation for a while. Then there were the hurricanes of the last few years with four that blew through Florida in quick succession. Then there is the war that we are now engaging in Iraq against terrorism. Worldwide unrest and terrorism has destroyed many lives almost on a daily basis. Earthquakes and Tsunami waves swept through the Pacific destroying everything in their paths. Katrina blew threw the Gulf Coast taking a staggering toll in lives and property. What will be the next “wake-up call”? When will it come? What form will it take? I wonder if America and the world can even hear it, no matter how loud it rings? I wonder if we are not too asleep in sin to even hear the call to turn back to God? We are certainly being given every warning of the Lord’s soon return. God’s mercy is giving us all a time and space to turn back to Him, but the world will never do so. But perhaps, one-by-one, some will heed the wake-up calls.

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