Saturday, August 30, 2008

NOLA three years later ... and Gustav is coming

I can't believe that it's been three years since Hurricane Katrina destroyed New Orleans. I've been there seven times since (and will be back in October, January, and next July) and have seen the entire range of what the recovery and the lack of recovery looks like. I've met homeless guys that are on the streets as a direct result of Katrina, and even gone to our friend Ronnie's beautiful house that he can't live in so he has lived under Claiborne Bridge and other places.

Ronnie is close to getting his house back together, and now, here coms Hurricane Gustav. I can't imagine what is going through people's minds and hearts right now. But I do want to say one thing to Christians that keep claiming that Katrina was God's judgement on the city and other crap: get tuned in to reality.

Your sin is as bad as the sin in New Orleans. I know some amazing people who don't have whatever stereotypical life you think "everyone" there has. What about them? Even in the Old Testament (which is before Jesus changed everything with a single amazing act of grace) God said he would spare paces that had even one righteous man. Well, I've met scores of them in NOLA. So stop it. (Rant over, sort of).

I don't know what NOLA will look like after this next week, Gustav might miss, it might destroy it, etc. But what do we do in response? Some have said we need to close the city forever. Really? If Chicago had another huge fire would we declare it worthless? If another terrorist attack hits NYC are we done with it?

We need to put ourselves in the shoes of those suffering the most in NOLA: the poor, and especially the working poor (again, break down the stereotype. The people of New Orleans are not collectively lazy or unwilling to work, there are other things going in that you and I can't relate to). Who will help them, even as most are STILL suffering after the storm three years ago.

One thing that has struck me over and over in my trips to NOLA - Christians are being out-served by socially-minded people. That sucks, I think. We don't need signs telling people to repent. WE, the church, need to repent for our lack of care, for our addiction to the comfortable lives we have, for our propensity to live the "it sucks to be you" lifestyle. And we need to go get our hands dirty in places down the street, across the world, and, yes, in the Gulf Region. NOLA and the mirror that it held up to our country's issues isn't just going to go away because a Hurricane hits it, but the mirror is going to continue to expose our weaknesses.

Join me in praying that NOLA can rise up ... and join me in being a part of making it happen.

1 comment:

MacKenzie Campbell said...

Amazing work as always. I actually heard a really cool quote when I was at Scum of the Earth last time and this guy John Donne was a preist at St. Paul's Cathedral in London. He use to write elicit pornographic poems before become a preist. He came down with an illness which he thought was the plauge and came to the conclusion that God was punishing him for his previous transgressions. Later as he wrote a devotional about it he said something along the lines of "Why would I fear if this is the hand of God? I should rejoice if God is trying to do something so huge in my life." It reminded me of everything people are saying about God taking over New Orleans. I think we should turn this around and if we are saying this is God's hand, then let God work. He's already done amazing things down there.