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“I have never seen such devastation…” Within the first hour after arriving in New Orleans only three weeks ago, I could hardly take in the panorama. We drove for more than fifteen miles passing neighborhood after neighborhood of vacant homes where happy children once played. They were now ghost towns of mud and mold-infested ruins, standing as silent witnesses to the power of a natural disaster. An occasional FEMA trailer sat out in front of the only home in an area where the owners had summoned the courage to return.

During the months of August and September, I had been glued to the TV to try to comprehend the disaster; but seeing it made me realize that the television pictures had not come near capturing the loss.

Nancy Alonzo, a staff pastor and evangelist of the church where I was visiting, sniffed and her eyes filled with tears. She had grown up in New Orleans. The city she loves is all but gone. Only a few areas of the central city remain unscathed: the Garden District, the central business district and the French Quarter. Only between twenty and thirty per cent of the population have had the courage to come back. Christians who love God are paying mortgages on homes that no longer exist and never will again. Their investments are gone and their savings wiped out.

We passed the site of a large church which had once ministered powerfully to a region that was gone now. During the disaster last summer, ten feet of water stood in the building for weeks. The parking lot was now empty. The congregation has been dispersed to other states. There is no longer any “mantle” of ministry to pass to another, nothing but the leaven of the unseen Kingdom of God. What stood only a few months ago as a testimony to over 40 years of diligent, obedient service to Jesus was destroyed in one day. It will have to be bulldozed, and since it is below sea level It will probably not be rebuilt. While some Christians have said that it is the judgment of God, I wonder. Why would God sweep away the righteous and not the wicked? If Jesus said that he was a Christian. His face glowed. He introduced himself as “Deacon Ernest.” The church where he had once served was gone.

He smiled and said, “Jesus is the Lily of the Valley, the Bright and Morning Star, the Fairest of Ten Thousand. I just love Him...”

If we have the DNA of our Heavenly Father, and if we are indeed the seed of Abraham, the intercessor, why don’t we take a few days and go stand in the gap in New Orleans and distribute God’s love and mercy?

 “He (God) sends rain on the just and the unjust...” and that He has come not to judge the world but to save it, should we leave the remnant alone in their sorrow, or should we seize an unprecedented opportunity to show mercy? If it happened to us, would we be so quick to assume that we were the victims of God’s righteous “frown”? Or would we say, “God is only testing me...”

Jesus told some inquirers one day who asked about a group of people who died when the Tower of Siloam fell on them, “Do you think that (these people) were any worse sinners that the rest?”

“No,” He said, “but unless you repent, you will all perish, too...” (Luke 13) In other words, we are “condemned already.” (John 3:16-18) He has come to pull us out of the abyss.

The anointing that God has been so lavishly pouring on us is for the same reasons that the anointing rested on Jesus: to preach the Gospel to the poor, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, recovery of sight to the blind, the opening of the prison to them that are bound and to declare the year of the Lord’s favor. (Luke 4) The day Jesus read that verse in His hometown synagogue, He purposely left out the next phrase, “To declare the day of vengeance of our God.” (Isaiah 61) Hmmmm.

As we drove through the streets of New Orleans, I felt like Nehemiah examining the walls of Jerusalem. It was hard to comprehend the disaster. As we drove through the now famous Ninth Ward, we saw an old man sitting on his porch. He was the only remaining resident in several blocks. We approached and he invited us to talk to him. He had lost all his neighbors; the electricity had been off for nine months. His small hovel contained a mattress on the floor, a kerosene lamp and a propane tank hooked up to a hot plate; but no one had to tell me that he was a Christian. His face glowed. He introduced himself as “Deacon Ernest.” The church where he had once served was gone.

He smiled and said, “Jesus is the Lily of the Valley, the Bright and Morning Star, the Fairest of Ten Thousand. I just love Him...”

If we have the DNA of our Heavenly Father, and if we are indeed the seed of Abraham, the intercessor, why don’t we take a few days and go stand in the gap in New Orleans and distribute God’s love and mercy?

Originally Published May/June 2006 Editor Melinda Fish

IssuesMelinda Fish