By Brian Blackwell, Message staff writer
HACKBERRY, La. (LBM) – Monte Rowse was speechless as he stood near a pile of debris inside the worship center of First Baptist Church, Hackberry, four days after Hurricane Laura passed through the community.
Though he knew the road to recovery would be lengthy and tiresome, Rowse was certain God would provide and renew the strength of the weary congregation.
Soon, multiple churches came alongside First Baptist Hackberry:
— First Baptist Church, Dallas, Texas, gave the congregation $10,000 to pay the insurance deductible, allowing the church to rebuild facilities.
— Praise Church in Beaumont, Texas, donated money to cover the staff salaries through the end of the year, and continues to send teams to serve the Hackberry community. The Lone Star state congregation also provided lodging on their campus for the Rowse family while their home was being rebuilt.
Rowse said the outpouring of support by other churches in four states has been humbling.
“If there is a need, I just pick up and call my partner churches,” Rowse told the Baptist Message. “God is meeting our needs every single day. We didn’t go out searching for it but God is providing when we least expect it.
“If there’s ever a time to help hurting churches, it’s now,” he continued. “Small things in the hands of a big God can help those hurting through and through.”
First Baptist is one 35 Louisiana Baptist congregations who suffered catastrophic damage after Hurricane Laura and have received assistance through the Churches Helping Churches initiative. Assistance varies, but every bit of help makes a difference – especially prayers, according to state mission staff.
Sean Keith, Sunday school strategist for Louisiana Baptists, said the state mission services team has worked with directors of missions in Louisiana and Texas to help identify best matches among churches. Since the effort began, Keith has been amazed at the close bonds that have emerged.
“The stories are really encouraging and impactful,” Keith said. “Our focus is to help develop relationships that may last anywhere from two months to two years. Every week I get stories of pastors telling us and their partner churches thank you for helping provide encouragement in their time of need.”
Steve Horn, executive director for Louisiana Baptists, added: “As I think about the overwhelming needs of our churches, the only way to survive and thrive is one-on-one partnerships between churches. Not only will this provide financial and volunteer assistance, but most valuable will be the informed and personal prayer partnerships.”
For information on how to partner with a congregation in need, visit the Churches Helping Churches website.