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.