The Sunday After
It is noon, time for the shift change for the police in New Orleans' Sixth District, on the first Sunday since Hurricane Katrina struck. Hy McEnery, a Baptist chaplain with Child Evangelism Fellowship, knows he has to encourage the officers to keep going. In the face of the unrelenting pressure, danger, and temptation caused by the chaos in the Big Easy, some officers have committed suicide. Others have joined the looters. Still more have simply left their posts.
These men, although still on the job, have been "crunched," as one puts it. The ones going off duty on this hot, sunny day look weary and smell of oily water and decayed matter. The ones coming on look just as weary and smell only a little better.
McEnery picks Psalm 69, discussing the topic, "Why have the waters overwhelmed me?" The officers stand quietly as McEnery tells them that God will help them "in the deep mire." Jesus, he says, can give them refreshing waters.
Work and worship
As many Gulf churches as could tried to provide spiritual encouragement. At Woodland Baptist's service in Hammond, Louisiana, Leon Dunn preached on Jeremiah 29 and God's plans for his people. He said, "My idea of camping out is the Holiday Inn. But this storm didn't catch God by surprise.
"I don't care how dark the night is, let's keep helping our neighbor and keep Christ first. God has a plan. Not only God has a plan, we still have a purpose. I will be honest with you: it has been a difficult season. But our purpose hasn't changed since last Sunday. God put us here to give a cup of cold water to our brother." Woodland so far served 18,000 meals right out their front door.
Many pastors and church members are still dealing with shock. At the Southern Baptist disaster station in First Baptist ...