By Holly Jo Linzay, Regional Reporter
BROUSSARD (LBM) – Youth at First Baptist Church of Broussard witnessed first-hand the power of prayer after a devastating flood ravaged their church and shut down their Lighthouse youth hall.
“We were never challenged to pray this big before. We asked the youth to pray and be faithful,” Adam Whitney, associate pastor of student education, said about the extensive damages caused by the flood waters and the lack of funding for repairs.
In August 2016, the community of Broussard was struck with tragedy as rains and floodwaters damaged numerous homes and businesses as well as FBC Broussard’s sanctuary, education building and student building.
“It was the weekend we were having our revival. The flooding was a hard blow that took the wind out of our sails. The whole experience brought the church together during the struggles, but at the same time, it was deflating. We knew we had to depend on God,” Whitney recalled.
The sanctuary and education building, the main areas involving the church’s ministries, became the focus of the church’s resources and time. The third building, the Lighthouse, was slated for repairs as resources became available.
“Most of our youth come from broken homes and difficult homes, and they saw the Lighthouse as a place they could come to escape the world or whatever was bothering them. It was a safe place. They considered it a refuge,” Whitney said.
Whitney assured the youth that God would provide the means, “and that is exactly what happened,” he said.
“God stepped-in in such a powerful way. The first week alone, when we started praying about it, $1,000 was donated toward repairs for the Lighthouse,” Whitney noted. Moreover, church members began to pray about the needed Lighthouse repairs alongside the youth and student leaders.
“It really is a testimony of how God showed up,” Whitney enthused. “We had churches from every state along the Gulf Coast sending us money saying they felt led to give to us.”
During the last year and a half, the congregation has been in awe as God provided the finances, laborers and resources.
Sheetrock was taken out of the youth building, and termite damage was discovered and repaired. Interior walls had to be ripped out, furniture thrown out, floors and carpet replaced, and kitchen cabinets replaced, to name a few of the projects.
A roofing company estimated it would cost about $15,000 to put a new roof on the student building, but ended up giving the church body a $2,500 discount and sealed and caulked the roof for free. A gazebo was donated to the youth, so they could sit around and worship with a “camp-like” atmosphere.
“God provided in abundance. Once tallied, we received about $30,000 in donations and supplies, not including all the volunteer labor. The youth realized the Lord answered their prayers. He made it possible to restore the Lighthouse for fellowship and ministry for our students,” Whitney said.
The Lighthouse has been renamed the Refuge and the youth group adopted Psalm 34:8 as their inspirational verse, “Come and taste that the Lord is good. Blessed are those who take refuge in Him.”
“God is the only one who has the power to take what seems tragic and devastating and turn it around for good. We are soaking in the blessing of God,” Whitney said about how the community came together to help with the church clean-up, repairs and youth building renovations.
To celebrate the re-opening of the youth ministry building, FBC Broussard recently had a commissioning day for the Refuge, inviting the entire community to the church for gumbo, Whitney said, adding that the turnout was good.
“So far, it was the best showing of our church connecting with the community,” he said. He also noted “this whole experience has helped to create some youth leaders and has helped our youth praise team step up.”
Jase Choplin, a sophomore at Comeaux High School, said it was rough at first to lose the Lighthouse but is looking forward to this year at the Refuge. “It was sad to go through the process of losing all the memories of the Lighthouse, but it is exciting to be part of the rebuilding and leadership of the Refuge,” he told the Baptist Message.
Cole Menard, a sixth-grader at Broussard Middle School, said he has been active in the church for almost six years. “I’m looking forward to being at the Refuge and meeting new people and having a great place to create new memories.”
Gentry Thibodeaux, a junior at Carencro High School, echoed his sentiments. “It’s been great for students to have the Refuge because they can connect better now. It is a much better fit for the high school students now. Meeting in temporary places was difficult.”
The youth group understands the favor God has given them despite the tragedy of the flood, Whitney said. Beneath some of the new architectural elements, the teens wrote Bible verses on the boards that were going up in the ceiling area, including Psalm 46:1: “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”