Sunday, December 06, 2009

Lagniappe Particularized!

As you may or may not know Lagniappe 'church' has been a mission church of the Presbyterian Church in America since it's inception. Last night, December 5, 2009 Lagniappe was 'particularized' into it's own individual congregation. Elders from Grace Presbytery came and installed Curt and myself as pastors and ordained John Sabin and Andrew Thompson as our charter elders. It was a great service of celebration and remembering God's goodness to us in Christ. In true Lagniappe fashion we had the reception at the Mockingbird Cafe. Sorry for the infrequency of the blog entries, but we are finding that the people side of this ministry is more time consuming than the home construction...imagine that...thanks all of you who helped to make this a reality.

Monday, October 05, 2009

"What is the Church Doing?!"

That's a question we get a lot around here, especially because our church USED to host thousands of volunteers, repair hundreds of homes, and offer lots of benevolence money to those hurting from Katrina. What are we doing now? Well...I thought I would share with some of the front page article from our local news paper, the "Sea Coast Echo." VIOLENT CRIME SOARS "In the four years since Hurricane Katrina, there have been hundreds of inspirational stories of compassion, recovery, and rebuilding in Hancock County, Bay St. Louis, and Waveland. Katrina took away many of our homes, our businesses and government buildings, and for the most part our way of life, but a courageous community has persevered to bring most of it back. Four years later, homes have been rebuilt, businesses have reopened, and the local governments have recovered, but police officials say the same way of life may never return since a dramatic spike in drug use, suicide, murder, and other violent crime since Aug. 29, 2005, has has turned our sleepy little community into a volatile and dangerous place.[....] 'We have never had so many drug cases,' [Hancock County Sheriff Steve Garber] said. 'The explosion of meth has really created a lot of extra work for our people. [One reason for the dramatic spike] is that some people are turning to drugs as a way to escape their dire financial and emotional situations,' Garber said. The national economic situation along with the pressure of rebuilding their lives has driven some people over the edge, officials said. 'Each individual is different,' [Larry Smith, former psychology professor at Pearl River Community College] said, 'but generally, when people loose their support base, some will turn to drugs.' Since Hurricane Katrina, there have been nearly 48 suicides or intentional overdoses in Hancock County, and more than 250 attempts or threats. Records show there have been four suicides in Waveland, nine in Bay St. Louis, and 35 in the unincorporated area of the county. 'Prior to the storm, we had three or four suicides a year,' Garber said. 'In the past two weeks we have had three.' Another side effect of the emotional stress being felt in the community is domestic violence. Garber said that domestic violence has increased dramatically and it has played a part in seven of the nine murders in the county since Katrina. In the five years prior to Katrina, there were only five murders and only one involved domestic violence. Murder, meth, and domestic violence are not the only concerns of the law enforcement however. In the past four years, there have been two bank robberies, at least a dozen armed and strong armed robberies, home evasions, and hundreds of burglaries and break-ins." Dwayne Bremer, Staff Writer for the Sea Coast Echo. Drug use, domestic violence, violent crime, burglaries, and suicides....all of which have substantially increased since August 29, 2009. This article does not even touch on the hundreds of children displaced into an already overloaded foster care system by domestic violence, drug use, etc. Just last week, an individual known to many in our community committed suicide. A reputable relief organization in the area had recently rebuilt their home, but a home was clearly not enough. What do we do for those whose despair is greater than a new home, a new car, free clothes, or free lunch can relieve? The article was a sobering reminder that the psychological, emotional, and dare I say spiritual effects of Hurricane Katrina are as real as the physical. Lagniappe has set our course directly into this whirlwind of pain, fear, anxiety, anger, and depression. It is not easy. We have an active enemy-anxious to offer the residents of this community ANYTHING besides Jesus to fill their souls and fix their problems. Then we have to worry about us. I am almost as dangerous as Satan when I offer MYSELF to fix someone, rather than offering Jesus. Fortunately, God has been at work in this place long before we came, and he welcomes us into the already raging battle for the hearts and lives of Hancock County.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

I Miss the Volunteers

Just a thought as I scanned through the pictures on this blog. Looking at familiar faces and realizing we don't have the week to week rotation of great conversations around the table, on the deck, or passing the hallways. What an encouragement these men and women have been for almost four years. We'll have to run in to each other at PCA events or random encounters throughout the US. We might just have a reunion courtesy of another storm.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Re-Creation of Helene's House

I must say that of all the houses LPC has worked on, Helene Johnson's has sold me on the idea of 'Restoration'. This was one of those projects that I stood outside of - gazing up - thinking to myself, "Lord have mercy - please don't let this be it!" Well, in this case, this WAS it - rotten siding, stomach-turning colors; a structure obviously badly damaged by Katrina and VERY obviously lacking in TLC. As it turns out, Helene has had very little help since Katrina. A single, hardworking mom, and owner of the Bay's Fit First, she has had her hands full just staying afloat, and if that meant continuing to live in a house that made people RUN by, then so be it. LPC first met Helene when the Salvation Army called requesting that LPC act as construction partner for a grant recently approved for this house, and after a visit to the site by Jordan, LPC agreed to sign on. The pictures tell the rest of the story. I honestly almost drove off the road and into the ditch when I saw it the other day - it is beautiful! Andrew Thompson, LPC teams - congrats all of ya'll and THANK YOU for helping make The Bay beautiful one disaster at a time!!!

Friday, April 03, 2009

Bobbii and Troy

HEAR YE ALL 2008 RUF BLITZ BUILDERS - Bobbii & Troy Lane (and all the rest of the family (including goat?)) are moving in!! Bobbii and Troy gave a shout-out to all of you who worked so hard in December to frame and dry-in the house. THANK YOU!! (check out Lagniappe Church Blog post 12-20-08 for pictures of the blitz.) Jordan, Andrew, Annette, and Troy complete a walk-through of the kitchen and livingroom. Annette works for Fuller Center Disaster Rebuilders, LPC's local partner organization, which completed the interior. (No, that is not a road down the middle of the room - thank you - it's a paper walkway to keep our mud-caked shoes off the new floors. For all of ya'll who've been down here during one of those "wash-out" thunderstorms we get around here - yeah, we had one yesterday, complete with tornados. (No one was hurt, thank goodness, but I did get frostbite after temporarily relocating my office inside the walk-in refridgerator, where i figured if nothing else, at least the roof wouldn't fall on my head...)) Here Andrew, Jordan, and Bobbii discuss the roof-line, weather-stripping, and the inherent evils of BirdBoxes...

Monday, March 30, 2009

Wayland to Waveland is BACK!!

Peter and Crew are back in the Bay, this time helping to fund, frame, wire and plumb a home for Michelle Williams-Terry, her three children and two grandchildren! Michelle is a long-time resident of Waveland, a Katrina survivor, and one of LPC's most delightful friends. This house is a dream come true for Michelle; she looks forward to once again living in her own home, enjoying her garden, and living life with her kids. Please keep Michelle in your prayers - she is a hard-working single mom and grandma who fights hard every day to care for her family.

Participating in the Restoration - A Visual

"Where there was once destruction, now there is beauty." Angelia Clark's new home.

Another Home is Finished!

Lagniappe Church, Fuller Center Disaster Rebuilders, and Joining Hands celebrate the completion of Lynda Rich's home. Lynda lost her home and all her belongings in Hurricane Katrina; she lived in a FEMA trialer on her property until summer '08 when she obtained a temporary MEMA cottage. The cottage was removed from her property after it was badly damaged in Hurricane Gustav, and she and her daughter have been living in a camper trailer without water or electricity ever since. Construction on the home began in January 2009, and despite her own physical disability, Lynda has worked tirelessly alongside the volunteers on the construction; after three-and-a-half long years, Lynda is finally home again.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Veteran Volunteers!

This week Lagniappe is full to the brim with, what we term, "veteran volunteers." The Cross (a campus ministry at the University of Tennessee) began coming to the coast before Lagniappe existed, and has a continued ministry of excellent service punctuated by a deep love for each other that spills out into all their interactions. They are a dynamic and hard-working group, and we love having them! Our second crew is from Pennsylvania, and are what we might term an "older, active" crowd. They have been given a very difficult task this week, and are working hard with great attitudes. So far, the students from the Cross have painted the Mockingbird, begun a foundation, framed up a house, and done a number of projects in the local high school. Our friends from Pennsylvania have installed windows and siding on a particularly difficult rehab project. (For more pictures, see the photo-album on the left side of the web-page.)

Scott Necaise Home Dedication

A beautiful Friday afternoon in Waveland, MS, marks a great day for Scott Necaise - his house is completed, the dedication is underway; he has a new home! "I don't have any words except 'thank you' to everyone who's worked on my house," he says. Scott's house is the first built through collaboration between Lagniappe Church and Fuller Center Disaster Rebuilders, with Lagniappe completing all major framing and exterior work and the Fuller Center providing additional funding, construction leadership, and teams to finish out the interior. Thank you everyone who has participated in the building of this house. Please keep Scott in your prayers as he begins life in a new home. (photo: Scott (far right front) with family and Bartow Tucker of Fuller Center (front left))

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Important Announcement...

Please follow the link below to the Lagniappe Church homepage for an announcement from Lagniappe about our upcoming transition out of re-building toward development in the Bay-Waveland community. Click here to be taken to the LPC homepage

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Learning to Pray

When Lagniappe began, we had no idea what to do or where to begin...and our prayers were born out of deep need and desperation rather than piety. Today, having become more "self-sufficient" and organized, we often forget to pray. We forget the one who brings every volunteer, who sends every penny, who holds this place in the palm of His hand and directs the winds and waves. Well, He is reminding us, and drawing us back to Himself. Please pray for our staff today. Many difficult decisions are being made in the next few days that will greatly affect our next few months. We need money for houses, and the anticipated grants are coming later than we expected. Please pray 1) that God would teach us to trust. 2) That God would make it clear what our next steps should be. 3) That God would comfort those who are still without homes (many of whom are our clients). 4) That God would provide the money to build these houses-and provide it quickly. 5) PRAISE Him for His provision, and His promise that "He knows the plans He has for us...plans for wholeness and not for evil, to give us a future and a hope."

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Go, Send, or Disobey

This is a famous quote by John Piper regarding missions. It sounds harsh, but Biblically, Piper argues that the Christian is either called to GO to the mission field, or help SEND others to the field...neither is more spiritual than the other, but to do neither is disobedience to God's call. Many who read this blog are "senders." You support LPC financially; you support us in your prayers. You encourage us from far away in the ministry that God has called us to in Bay Saint Louis. FYI: Just because you send, does NOT mean you are not doing (or called to do) missionary and ministry work in your own community either! All that being said, we are thankful for the senders. We could not be here without your investment in the Kingdom. God uses you mightily in ways you cannot even imagine. However, it is exciting for us when senders become "Goers." (I know it's not a word, just give it to me). This week we have members of Lynne and John Sabin's church, Westminster Presbyterian Church in Greenwood, MS. This church has supported and encouraged John and Lynne--both financially and through prayer. But this week they CAME! They are here-doing the work that they have heard so much about these last 2 years. We are thankful for their partnership, thankful for their service, and thankful that some can go, some can send, and some have the privilege of doing both!

Friday, January 09, 2009

Therefore ENCOURAGE one another and build one another up, just as you are doing...

Some days in Bay St. Louis, no matter how beautiful the weather or how "productive" the day may seem...we become weary. The task is too big. We do not have enough to give. Yesterday was one of those days. I walked through the main building thinking "I hate this town that takes so long to recover. I hate the systems that do not work; I hate the corruption that has harmed so many. I am weary, and what is worse, I do not feel the love for Bay St. Louis or her people that I am called to feel." I decided to go for a drive and deliver popsicles-get out of the office, bring some encouragement to the volunteers, and maybe remind myself of what we are doing. Instead, I was the one encouraged. God brought me a 5th time volunteer--a faithful friend and encourager of Lagniappe. He began, out of the blue, to tell me about God's work in His church back home. God is raising up missionaries. He is using Lagniappe as a spring board for His church to consider acts of mercy in their neighborhoods across the United States. "You cannot even know the way God is using this church to draw others into His mission of redemption and restoration," he said. "Please know that our church prays faithfully for you all in the is all we can do." There is a Biblical mandate for encouragement because God designed us to need Him, and to need each other. Yesterday I was reminded of God's faithfulness, of His sovereign work throughout this country (and the world), and of His graciousness in using Lagniappe. I was pointed back to the cross, and drew encouragement from the words and prayers of my brother in Christ. I went to encourage the volunteers with popsicles, and I left encouraged myself by the prayers and words of those I went to serve.