NEW ORLEANS – A burgundy pickup loaded with food, cleaning supplies and bottled water lumbered through the Lower Ninth Ward in late January.
NEW ORLEANS – A burgundy pickup loaded with food, cleaning supplies and
bottled water lumbered through the Lower Ninth Ward in late January.
A disaster relief volunteer from Denham Springs, La., and her
partners from Benton, Ark., were on mission to meet the needs of
whomever they might meet in that hurricane-devastated area.
“Even if it was just a bottle of water, shared in Jesus’ name, we
felt compelled to be there,” said Sandra Watson of Arkansas. “God had
called us out of our comfort zone with one simple instruction: “Be my
hands, my arms, my feet; minister in my name.”
During their six-hour stint spent in the Lower Ninth Ward that January
day, the DR team saw unimaginable destruction coupled with the
brilliance of God at work.
The Lower Ninth Ward looked every bit like a war zone: Homes were
flattened, cars toppled. Some homes were sitting in the middle of what
had once been the roadway; some homes were sitting on top of cars.
A total sense of devastation had become evident: The heavy odor of
mold, dust, wet wood and rot hung over the area. The senses were
attacked, more than eyes can take in, more than mind can conceive.
Despite the stench, a few people could be seen, mostly workers clearing
“We offered them water and an encouraging word, and some let us pray
for them right there, “ DR volunteer Patsy Proctor said. “It was
just sharing in Jesus’ name.”
As they passed one home, a lady stood outside. Stopping, the DR
workers prayed with her. She invited them to walk through her
home, allowing her time to explain how things used to be. The
lace curtains, family photos, her mothers dishes – lost in black
mold. It had quickly grown, covering everything. They cried
and prayed with her, leaving her with food and water, and the
encouragement of knowing God was remaining with her.
Months later, the DR workers acknowledge that they probably were a
blessing from the Lord to the people they were in contact with that
winter day, but what is stronger in their minds is the blessing one
person was to them.
“It was so unexpected, “ Proctor said.
On Lazardi Street, the DR volunteers spotted a lonely-looking man, just
sitting on his porch in a high-back wooden chair, as if this day were
no different from any other.
Praying that this could be a good place to give testimony of the
goodness of God in the midst of disaster, they pulled up and asked the
man what he was doing just sitting on the porch. He replied, “Why do
you have Acts 1:8 on your truck?”
With the thought of witnessing, one DR worker replied, “Let me
tell you what Acts 1:8 says,” but before she could begin, he told her.
Over the next half hour, DR workers and the tall, gaunt, but
clean-shaven man shared God’s word. In the midst of disaster, peace
Ernest Penn beamed an unforgettable smile as he introduced himself as “Deacon,” because he is a deacon in his church,
“Called to serve others,” he said.
He had evacuated, but as soon as he could he came home and assessed the damage.
At 73 years old Deacon was starting over. He had scrubbed his
home, keeping some things he just could not bear to part with: an old
rocking chair, with scratched, faded stain, a window fan – “I bought it
at Penneys in 1973. It worked before Katrina; I hope it will still
He was home, sleeping on a donated mattress, without electricity or running water.
“Making ends meet,” he said. “God knows my needs.” Deacon said. “He is still on His throne. I only need to wait.”
The DR workers ministered daily for two months in that Lower Ninth Ward
neighborhood, and stopped to visit Deacon on many more occasions.
“God used Deacon to bless us more than we could ever bless him.” Ivy Wyble said.
“It’s a blessing to be a DR volunteer, helping people when they are so
hurting,” the volunteer added. “God didn’t need to bless us even more
by connecting us with Deacon, but doing more that He needs to do is
what God does all the time.”