When a hurricane leaves town, the ensuing days evoke whirlwinds of activity for Southern Baptist Disaster Relief. Trinity Baptist Church in Lake Charles is a hub of such ministry, reaching into the community with cleanup efforts, 20,000 meals a day, tons of food and other life necessities, and sharing the gospel.
As of September 10, the site had registered 115 professions of faith.
Food, cleaning supplies, personal hygiene items, diapers, paper towels, pallets loaded with cases of water, flashlights, bug spray and tarps are among the items donated by church members and the community.
“Just about as quickly as we can get it, it empties out,” Trinity member Amy Langley said. “The halls are full right now, but by the time we leave today, it all may be gone.”
Amy’s husband Keith is Trinity’s director for buildings and grounds.
“Donations to this ministry have been just as intense as the hurricane – even more,” said one worker who preferred anonymity.
“The people share their stories as we help them, and that gives us the chance to pray with them and offer them the hope of Jesus. Just make them feel like they’re loved and that we’re walking alongside of them,” said Amy, who is on vacation from her job as a pharmacist. “When we meet a spiritual need, then meeting that need is much bigger than the physical.”
Chad Gilbert, Trinity’s associate pastor of community ministries and missions at Trinity, said, “I’m running a marathon at a sprint’s pace. And these first two weeks have been, like, crazy. There’s a desperation that’s in the air for everybody. It’s catastrophic.”
Gilbert coordinates site relief efforts, including people from other churches who are not trained disaster relief personnel, but who have the “heart and hands” for ministry.
Gilbert joined Jerry Parmentier, associate pastor for children’s ministry, in loading a small, donated generator in the back of Gregory White’s vehicle. White, a lung cancer survivor, had no electricity to power necessary medical equipment at his home.
“Sir, you made my day,” Parmentier told White. The two hugged, and Gilbert led the trio in prayer.
“Mr. White is one of those bright spots we look for in days like these,” Parmentier said, reflecting on the day’s heartache and hubbub.
“God wires most men to want to fix things. We’re not always able to do that. But today, I saw hope come back into a helpless situation.”