Decked out in his police uniform with a pistol at his hip, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary’s police chief, Barry Busby, does not look like a pastor. But he is.
Decked out in his police uniform with a pistol at
his hip, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary’s police chief, Barry
Busby, does not look like a pastor. But he is.
Busby recently gathered about 15 relief workers
together in the seminary’s Martin Chapel for worship and Bible study.
They called it the “Church in the Quad.” The next Sunday, attendance
swelled to nearly two dozen in the original chapel at the seminary.
Although spared from the effects of Hurricane Katrina, the chapel was
without air conditioning, so the doors had to be propped open.
The fledgling Church in the Quad is “a visual
reminder that ‘the church’ is not a building,” Busby says. “That’s what
I preached on … that I am not building a building. I’m building
people. I’m building disciples for the glory of God, and the door is
wide open to anybody and everybody.”
In his sermon, Busby drew attention to the brightly
lit steeple of nearby Leavell Chapel that every night glows like a
beacon from the seminary to the dark post-Katrina New Orleans skyline.
He said the steeple should remind believers to be the light of the
world just as Christ had taught His disciples.
Busby also reminded the workers that light, when it
shines into darkness, will reveal sin. But people need to see their sin
before they can find the Savior, he said.
Busby compared his dual roles as a police chief and church pastor to a metaphor in Psalm 23.
“The 23rd Psalm talks about the rod and staff that
comfort me, and what it’s talking about is discipline and protection,”
Busby notes, referring to both the holstered gun he wears each day and
the Bible he uses to teach his congregation.
Busby was committed to the relief effort at New
Orleans Seminary even before floodwaters covered most of the campus.
With less than two hours of sleep, Busby hurried back to New Orleans
from Bay St. Louis, Miss., the Saturday before the storm struck the
southern coast of Louisiana. He had been at a meeting of “Out of
Range,” a group of men who had fasted and prayed for each other
throughout the summer.
Busby waited out the storm on the New Orleans
Seminary campus. Katrina passed, leaving the seminary with relatively
little structural damage.
But then the levees failed, and Busby woke to find
18 inches of floodwater covering the first floor of his home in the
seminary’s new Staff Village housing complex, where he and his family
had moved only two weeks before the storm.
With 10 years military experience, Busby said that,
as a seminary leader, it was his “military duty to be the last one to
Busby returned to the seminary two weeks later to
assess the effects of the flood. A crew of workers and contractors was
assembled over the next few days. Since then, Busby has overseen
security at the seminary and provided spiritual guidance for the
workers who reside at the campus.
Long hours and tough days are the norm. It is a
challenge balancing restoration, personal business and preaching.
Despite the long hours, Busby feels God has called him to the seminary
for “such a time as this.”
Those who attend the Church in the Quad are in New
Orleans from as far away as West Virginia, Tennessee, Missouri,
Illinois and Colorado. They have a variety of spiritual backgrounds.
One of the workers hadn’t been to church in eight years, Busby said.
“It’s been a fantastic response.” he explains. The
men who had attended the service were trying to make disciples, he
said, and they were trying to be more respectful toward others.
“I’ve got guys as rough as the day is long, and
they’re coming back and telling me, ‘Hey man, I’ve been doing what you
told me to do. I’ve been telling everybody about the church and trying
to be a lighthouse in the city.’”
Busby prays that the Church in the Quad will grow and reach out to the community around the seminary.
“Unfortunately, there’s nothing [for people] to come
back to,” he notes. “It’s unfortunate … I would love to open it up to
some of our neighbors … but … not yet.’”
As for Busby, he will remain at New Orleans Seminary
until the work is finished. He hopes his family will be able to join
him soon. His wife and children are living in Ackerman, Miss., in a
house provided by the same church where the Busbys were married.
For now, Busby is enthusiastic, trying to “run with perseverance the race that’s set before” him.
“It’s frustrating. It’s stressful. But I know Who is
there,” Busby says. “‘What man intends for evil, God intends for good.’
“I just keep hanging around to see what happens next
… Each and every day I wake up with excited anticipation about what’s
going to happen….” (BP)