This Sunday, August 29, is my sweet wife's birthday. It will be a day of celebration!
Sunday will also mark the 5th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina making landfall on the Gulf Coast. And five years after Katrina there will also be cause for celebration.
Realizing that a huge swath of Mississippi and Louisiana felt the devastating effects of Katrina, the Storm (as its come to be know) had a personal effect on me due to my ties to the city of New Orleans. While growing up I had lived in the city for five years, and as a youth minister in Atlanta I'd led several mission teams to New Orleans over a period of several years to serve alongside the Carrollton Avenue church. Additionally, some of our my dearest friends live in New Orleans.
Therefore, when the news reports five years ago began to describe the catastrophe that had befallen New Orleans, I felt a heavy heart-tug toward the city and its residents. I've told people that when my family moved from New Orleans I was ready to leave the city-- I had fallen out of love with New Orleans. But seeing the images of the devastation the Storm had wrought on the city... well, for me it was like seeing a crazy relative you didn't particularly like sprawled on the floor after taking a nasty fall. Your heart aches for them, and you see them in a very different way. The Storm helped me rediscover my love for New Orleans.
Now, five years after the Storm, my love affair with the city and its people has blossomed. And a big part of that heart revival on my part has been spurred by the Carrollton Avenue church and its resurgence.
I remain deeply grateful that my elders at Southern Hills immediately responded to the devastation Katrina wracked on New Orleans by making a two-year commitment to stand alongside Carrollton Avenue church in providing resources... reflecting both people and financial support. I'm especially indebted to the many ACU students who've traveled with me to New Orleans over the past five years, and who've served the people of the city so selflessly.
And I celebrate, five years after the Storm, the rebirth and revival of the Carrollton Avenue church... and its offspring, the Holly Grove church. Hurricane Katrina wrecked a church building, but God re-built a church in New Orleans. I've been overwhelmed by both the faith of the Carrollton Avenue church, and even more so by the faithfulness of God. Great things have been done in that city... and great things are still to be done.
So... this Sunday, as I celebrate sweet Susan's birthday, I'll be celebrating another anniversary. And both will indeed be celebrations, for both have been to me great gifts from our good God!