Louisiana Baptist churches damaged by Hurricane Laura may not have been able to gather in their worship centers on Sunday, but the powerful storm did not prevent them from meeting in other ways.
In an emotional Facebook Live message, from inside French Corner Baptist Church in Ponchatoula, Pastor Bobby Daniels told his members of First Baptist Church, Vinton, that God is in control. The church’s facilities sustained significant roof damage and took in some water as Laura passed through Vinton Thursday.
Citing 1 Kings 19, Daniels said the prophet Elijah was afraid and ran, only to find that God was with him in a still, small voice.
He encouraged his congregation to listen to God and act upon His leading in the weeks and months ahead.
“As a church we are going to be better,” he said. “As a community we are going to be better. As a people of faith we are going to be better. Our faith is going to be pushed to the edge. But we are going to get through this.”
Around 40 members of East Leesville Baptist Church gathered for an outdoor worship service on the church’s front lawn. The congregation was unable to meet indoors because of water damage. The campus also had a few downed electrical wires, but is still able to serve as a host site for Louisiana Baptist Disaster Relief operations, which will start next week.
Pastor Tommy Kiker encouraged his members to wash others’ feet in the community as Jesus did in John 13.
“It was such an encouragement to my heart to see my church here for worship,” Kiker said. “(Louisiana Baptists Executive Director) Steve Horn was here with us and was such a great encouragement to each and every one of us as we joined together a few days after the storm.”
Pastor Michael Linton shared his message through a Facebook Live broadcast from inside the First Baptist Church Sulphur worship center, which had damage to its roof, ceiling and a stained glass window.
Linton said the building does not define First Baptist Church; the congregation does. He charged them to show Christ’s love to the community.
“People don’t need to know of First Baptist Church as the church that had so much damage in Sulphur,” Linton said. “I want us to be defined by this moment, by how we respond to the moment, how we respond to the physical damage.
“Don’t let us be defined by the mourning. Let us be defined by what’s next, by what we’re going to do, by how we are going to respond to this, by how we are going to handle this. What will the community see when they see the people of First Baptist Church? Let that be our defining moment.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Reported by the staff of the Baptist Message, baptistmessage.com, news journal of the Louisiana Baptist Convention.)