Posts Tagged ‘Tri Coastal Community Outreach

02
Sep
13

Living the love of God instead of just talking about it

As I watched the “Secret Millionaire” show last evening, which featured Tri Coastal Community Outreach which I have worked closely with for seven years, I was struck again by how ignorant many Christian denominations are when it comes to charity. For reasons that escape me, there is a belief among some branches of our faith that it is a bad thing to help people in any way except preaching the Bible to them. I believe this is not only shortsighted but also in direct opposition to what Jesus said in the parable recorded in Matthew 25:34-46.

When someone has been beaten down by life’s storms, the last thing they need (usually) is someone to slam a Bible over their head and tell them to believe. When someone has seen their home washed away, their job dissolved, their family split apart or their physical body break down; the last thing they need to hear is that they are a sinner and all these things happened to them because they sinned.

When I dropped everything in May of 2006 and took off for the Gulf Coast to try and help those who were in great need after Hurricane Katrina, I had one goal in mind and that was to be of service. I of course had my Bible with me and studied it faithfully, but I did not embark on my journeys to be an evangelist but rather to be a servant.

Many times I found myself loading or unloading trucks in 99 degree heat, tearing out rotten drywall in a mold infested house, running all over three states trying to find supplies when none were to be found and numerous other menial tasks. My greatest joy came when I was able to be a part of a distribution day at one of the outreach centers when food and other supplies were passed out.

I remember vividly handing a package of toilet paper to an older lady at a distribution center one day. I had to drive nearly 100 miles to find that paper due to shortages. Upon receiving the package, the woman broke down in tears and thanked the Lord for His faithfulness over and over again. How can helping someone SEE the love of God in manifestation be wrong?

When I wasn’t actually helping people I was traveling across the United States trying to present the needs I had witnessed to churches, ministries and other groups who claimed they wanted to help people. For the most part my appeals landed on deaf ears. Time and again I heard the same excuses which were that these people needed to help themselves and just “giving them things” did not help them rebuild their lives.

If more Christian preachers and teachers spent less time talking and more time putting on their work clothes and helping someone rebuild their home, clean their yard or find supplies to stay alive; more people would come to the Lord by seeing the love of God in manifestation than just hearing about it on Sunday morning. Those who live their faith provide a far greater testimony to the faith than those who simply want to talk about it.

18
Sep
08

Update on Louisiana Hurricane Gustov/Ike Relief Efforts

This is a picture of a home in southern Louisiana taken two days ago. Notice how much water still remains? This is from Ike’s storm surge which topped the levees. The water has nowhere to go, so it is there until it naturally recedes.

Although the house above appears to not be inhabited, there are hundreds of homes just like this being lived in by the families who own them. They refuse to leave, even with no electricity and in many cases, water knee deep inside their home. The person taking this picture, Carolyn Thompson of Tri Coastal Community Outreach, was standing in this water when taking the picture. The water was black with oil and sewage.

Shortly after taking this picture an alligator was spotted swimming directly toward Carolyn. She jumped in the pickup and stayed there a long time. Consider those living in these homes and what they must go through when they hear a “bump in the night” wondering if what they heard was a log or an alligator hitting their house.

It will take weeks before the water recedes in places such as Houma, Louisiana and the clean up can begin. Amazingly, all these people want is water and bleach to disinfect their houses after the flood subsides. Red Cross, Salvation Army and FEMA are in the area along with Louisiana National Guard. In fact, it is the National Guard who delivers food and water to many of these types of homes.

Our fear is that deep in bayou there are hundreds, if not thousands of these types of situations but where the Guard has not been able to get to due to high water. Please pray these people “hang in there” until help and supplies arrive.  Following is the pickup loaded with food and cleaning supplies “Doc” and Carolyn took from Mississippi to Louisiana.

17
Sep
08

Louisiana–The Forgotten Battleground of Gustov and Ike (Rita too)

AMERICA—The call has gone forth and has not being heeded.

AMERICA—The needs are far greater than anyone knows.

AMERICA—Are you going to step up and meet the needs.

AMERICA—Your brothers and sisters await you.

While the vast majority of Americans are either pre-occupied with the daily financial market soap opera installment or spend all their time wondering what their favorite candidate said or didn’t say today; deep in our country’s hurricane ravaged South, the pain is deep and the need is greater. A story which should be at the top of the news has, amazingly almost dropped out of sight in the media.

On Labor day, Hurricane Gustov slammed into the central Louisiana coast as a strong category 3 hurricane. While all the eyes of the nation were glued to see whether New Orleans would survive; nary a soul was watching to see what Gustov actually did. As constant images of flood walls being overtopped by a little water filled our television screen, those gathered in Minnesota for the start of the Republican National Convention were holding a telethon to raise money for Gustov victims.

Amazingly, the next day Gustov was ancient history except for a few stories of evacuees scattered all over the Southern states. There was no media coverage of the damage caused by Gustov outside of New Orleans. By Wednesday of that week, there was no longer any coverage of the event whatsoever as all media attention was switched to the speech by Gov. Palin at the Convention.

As soon as the Convention ended, tropical storm/hurricane Hanna came to life and threatened Florida, Georgia, South and North Carolina. Even while Hanna was toying with becoming a major storm, hurricane Ike exploded in the Bahamas into a giant hurricane. By the time Hanna had come and gone, Ike was quickly becoming the major story as it first destroyed Cuba and then set his sights on various places along the Gulf Coast.

Meanwhile, during this period of time, an absolutely incredible thing was taking place. Deep in the very heart of Louisiana, Hurricane Gustov victims were by and large being totally neglected and forgotten. Unlike every other major hurricane to strike this country, there was no media coverage, no racing to the scene by various charities and very little help from even government agencies. It was as if no one cared about what had happened because of the people involved.

Who lives in this area of Louisiana anyway? What do they do down there? Why should I care about some God forsaken, mosquito infested backwater chunk of real estate in one of the strangest states in the country? These were the questions America asked after Gustov, instead of those which should have been asked.

Should it really matter where disaster strikes in this country? Should it really matter whether those impacted are rich or poor, white or black of English origin or Cajuns? Should it really matter if the area which is devastated is lush farmland or a swamp? Should it really matter what state the disaster is in?

Hurricane Rita ravaged this area three years ago. No one knew and no one cared. One ministry out of Lafayette tried to provide food and supplies to people scattered from Cameron Parish to New Iberia. That is until their resources ran out 9 months after Rita hit. There was never any Red Cross or Salvation Army presence. FEMA came and moved in and quickly moved out to handle Katrina related matters. While these tattered and torn people had no one helping them, those in New Orleans and Mississippi were being flooded with supplies and volunteers.

Does lightning strike twice? You bet, especially when those who have little to begin with are affected. Those people scattered in south central Louisiana were devastated by Rita in 2005 with little or no outside help to repair and rebuild. This same area, but now including Baton Rouge and Lafayette had to deal with the full fury of hurricane Gustov. Lest we forget, Gustov was a stronger hurricane than Ike. Less than two weeks after Gustov, this same area was swamped by hurricane Ike.

What is it like to live in an area no one knows about or cares anything about? It breeds self reliance and extreme bitterness. Those who live in these areas are highly skeptical of anyone claiming they want to help. They have been neglected and forgotten about countless times. Why should they believe this time is any different?

Last week, the day before Ike hit; a retire medical doctor from Gulfport, MS who goes only by “Doc” braved the rising waters and took some much needed food to these people in south central Louisiana. Just barely beating the rising storm surge from Ike leaving, he was awed by what he saw. This says a lot because Doc has been rounding up food and other supplies for Katrina victims since the day after Katrina hit.

Yesterday Carolyn Thompson from Tri Coastal Community Outreach in Grand Bay, Alabama returned with Doc to Louisiana to drop off more supplies. Fighting knee deep water, the devastation they found is beyond description. Yet, America does not know and could really care less about what is going on in New Iberia, Louisiana. See, America is too busy raising money to elect another worthless President. America is too busy crying over drops in the Stock Market. America is too busy trying to help those in Houston and Galveston to worry about Louisiana.

Please America, though they may not be many and they are certainly not mighty or influential; our fellow citizens in Louisiana desperately need our help. Unlike Texas where outside help has problems getting in, there is no such problems in Louisiana. Any and all help is desperately needed. For more information and current status please contact:

Carolyn Thompson, Director of Tri Coastal Community Outreach–(228) 623-0017, or go to Tri Coastal’s website at http://www.tricoastalcommunity.org/main.htm or contact me via my website at http://heart2heartshare.com/contactus.htm

The Gustov/Ike legacy is FAR MORE than Houston or Galveston. There are smaller less populated areas stretching from Galveston all the way to Mobile, Alabama which have suffered greatly from storm surge damage from these two storms. Please, there are huge immediate needs NOT being met in many of these areas. As soon as the water ever goes down, there will be a gigantic need for supplies and volunteers all along the Gulf coast.

04
Sep
08

Gustov Evacuees Stranded in Shelters

Imagine being told you MUST evacuate where you are living and you have perhaps 6 hours to sort through you possessions, load the car, board up the house and hope not to forget anything. What is your reward for being a good law abiding citizen? You get to sit in traffic along with all the thousands of others who are in the same situation you are in.

Perhaps you had time to get your prescription drugs refilled, but probably not. Perhaps you had time to think about your personal effects such as bank accounts and ID cards and the such, but probably not. In the frenzy driven by darkening skies and constant warnings on the television and radio to LEAVE NOW; many things were forgotten and/or misplaced.

Sitting in the world’s worst traffic jam you finally have time to think about everything you forgot to get or do. Did you turn off the coffee pot? Did you get the clothes out of the washer? Did you turn the thermostat up? Did you get the battery charger for the cell phone? Did you lock all the doors and windows? The questions keep coming and most of them have no answers. Your mind is in no condition to remember your address, let alone what you managed to throw in the car and didn’t.

Times have tough due to recovery from the last storm, high gas prices and medical expenses. Long ago the credit cards were taken away so that leaves only cash as a means of payment for gas and food. With no money to stay in a motel and with the shelters in your home state already full, you are forced to drive two states away to find a shelter with space available.

The drive is tedious, to say the least. Everyone’s at their wit’s end. Finally you get to the location you were heading to. Your “shelter” consists of a metal building with two portable toilets out back for hundreds of people. You have driven all this way for a cot and to share a port-a-potty with people who haven’t bathed in weeks.

Amazingly, people with few earthly possessions and have a stench that would drive away wild animals have enough booze in their car to stay drunk for a week. Fights break out over stupid things like snoring too loud or laughing too much. The drunks start fighting and soon everyone is on edge. Someone comes in to say the portable toilets are full already.

The food consists of outdated MRE’s that have no taste and are probably spoiled rotten. Soon the wind picks up and the lights start to flicker. The relentless rain drives against the building and it sounds like the roof is going to fly off any minute. It is night time and the electricity goes out. The only light is that of a few flashlights and the lighters of the smokers.

Somehow you live through the night from hell. The next morning someone hears on their car radio that your home area has been heavily damaged by a direct hit from a major hurricane. The authorities say it will be at least three days before anyone can return home. “OH MY GOD” is all anyone can say or think. Three more days in a prison most convicts would rather die than stay in.

On the second day the food runs out and what is left of the water is being rationed. Some, who had extra money or credit cards have left in search of a motel to stay in. Good luck, every room for three hundred miles is occupied. Others have left to try to make it to a friend or relative’s house up the road a few hundred miles. Within a few hours, most return due to roads blocked by tree limbs and/or power lines.

Feeling like a caged animal, people start breaking down. The fears of what has happened to their homes and the anger at being placed in such a hellhole are too much to bear. Finally some local folks bring as much food as they could spare and a truck brings some water. The toilets are still full and most everyone is hungry, but at least there is water.

After a few days the green light is given to “go home” such as it may be. People are warned that there is no electricity, no running water and the sewer system is not working and is backing up into homes. People leave anyway, wanting the security of their home instead of the horrible communal living arrangement of the shelter.

You think about leaving also but then you look in your wallet and see you have all of five dollars left to your name. With no money and no credit cards it is impossible to drive home. No one offers to help anyone else for everyone is in the same boat. Those with no money have no choice but to stay and wait for someone to help them. Odds are, before anyone does, the facility will be closed and those remaining will be forced to leave whether they have the means to or not.

Think this is a fairy tale? Think again. This very scenario is being played out as I type this in shelters in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana among other states. There are thousands of people marooned in sub-human “shelters” who literally do not have the money to drive home. Just today, Greater Birmingham, Alabama Ministries distributed $50 gas cards to a few hundred people in shelters there trying to help them get back home to New Orleans. They ran out of gas cards long before making a dent in the number needed.

The crisis I am relating will not make the evening news. It will not be in the daily papers. Even though it is not being reported, it is happening in scores of locations in Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee, Georgia and other states evacuees went to escape Gustov. Please, if you can help these people please contact the Emergency Management Director for the states involved. If you get nowhere with them, please contact Carolyn Thompson at: carollynnla@bellsouth.net and she can direct you to whoever can provide help. Carolyn is the director of Tri Coastal Community Outreach in Grand Bay, Alabama of which I have written about before; “Tri Coastal Community Outreach: A Rare Disaster Relief Group Success Story”

We are dealing with a humanitarian crisis that is unfathomable in our country in 2008. We must rally to find help for those who are displaced and get them home to start the rebuilding of their homes and lives. Thank You.

10
Jul
08

So You Think You had a Rough Day; Miracles and Needs at TCCO

 

Perhaps many of you have read another of my blog posts about the successful effort by Tri Coastal Community Outreach in Mobile county Alabama.  Since writing that blog many months ago, the TCCO has continued to grow and expand its efforts into long term programs to enable those it serves to become self-sufficient and self-reliant. 

It has a very successful program called “It’s All About You” (IAAY) which has captured the attention of many people and groups nationwide because it teaches people basic construction skills among other things so they can fix and repair their own house instead of waiting for someone else to do it.  IAAY also allows local community service agencies to come to TCCO to present material on health and other vital topics. 

Two incidents took place on Tuesday, July 8 which are both miraculous as well as quite challenging to their operation.  I will attempt to share this with a minimum of personal comments so as to not take up too much of your time.

The oral surgery had been scheduled for Tuesday morning since early June.  Everything had been covered at TCCO to allow its director this week to recover from surgery to cut out a wisdom tooth.  All was going smoothly until 1:30 Monday night. 

The director has grown children, many of whom have children of their own.  The youngest child did not have any children and is on the heavy side.  She had been feeling quite ill for weeks and finally her older sister made her go to the hospital Monday night at 1:30 a.m.  She was in horrible pain and her blood pressure was sky high.  The sister who was with her called her oldest sister who had been trying to get the one in pain to go to the hospital for almost a month and told her the hospital had given her sister morphine.

The oldest sister freaked out and said to run back and tell the doctors that only the night before her sister had tested positive on a pregnancy test.  She did and the hospital did their own test and discovered she was not only pregnant, she was 39 weeks pregnant.  Somehow they deduced her water had broken 10 days earlier and still, somehow the baby survived.  They called their mom and awoke her to tell her to get to the hospital as soon as possible.

When she did, the daughter’s blood pressure was 220/117 and she was about to go into kidney failure and/or have a stroke.  The doctors said she had to have a C Section immediately, which she did.  They miraculously delivered a very healthy 6 pound 9 ounce baby girl to a woman who did not even know she was pregnant and still does not believe the baby is hers.  It took some work, but they got her blood pressure back to a safe level and the new grandmother went home to catch a couple of hours sleep before her own oral surgery early that morning.

She had her surgery as planned, and thankfully there were no complications.  While she was coming out of anesthesia, she received an urgent call from her assistant at the center.  She simply told her; “at least she’s still living”. 

Her oldest daughter had left the hospital earlier that morning driving TCCO’s van back to the center.  She was never supposed to be allowed to drive alone, but she was.  About half way there, she had a Grand Mall epileptic seizure (which is why she was never to drive alone).  She slumped down in the driver’s seat and leaned to the left against the door.  The van careened across the four lane highway just missing one oncoming vehicle after another.

The van started hitting telephone poles which pierced the windshield of the van like giant spears.  The van slowed but still barreled through a fence which had numerous large wooden posts which snapped and also went through the windshield of the van.  Finally the van came to a stop in the yard of a PREACHER.  The preacher came running out and immediately laid hands on the driver and prayed.

Before the state police or other emergency vehicles could get there, somehow the oldest daughter came out of her seizure.   They got a door open and she got out with only a gash on her forehead.  The preacher and his wife held her, prayed for her and kept her warm till the emergency personnel got there a few minutes later.

In the words of the State Police officer; “there is no way on earth anyone should have survived that accident”.  Evidently everyone who saw the van was totally amazed that the driver was not killed by the various huge spears poking through the windshield.  In fact, if there had been a passenger, he would have been killed instantly by one such projectile.  The stunned girl was taken to the same hospital her younger sister is at.  What a reunion. 

Please keep this whole situation in your prayers for there are, needless to say, many issues which must be sorted out and dealt with in due time.  Thank God both daughters and the new granddaughter are doing well.  But, among the many problems which must be dealt with is the need for a replacement vehicle to haul supplies up and down the coast of Mississippi and Alabama.  If anyone reading this has access to any kind of cargo van/truck that could be donated to TCCO; please contact Tri Coastal or Carolyn Thompson.  Their number is 251-865-9731 or www.tricoastalcommunity.org on the web. 

But for now; I pray hearing about this incredible day will help strengthen your faith and give you the extra bit of spiritual energy to get you over whatever hump stands in your path.  We truly have an awesome God who knows what is happening and will do His best to watch over and take care of situations as He is allowed to.   He most certainly did at TCCO.