By Philip Timothy, Message Managing Editor
BATON ROUGE — An impromptu visit by Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and his running mate Indiana Gov. Mike Pence Aug.19 has succeeded in getting south Louisiana — stricken by catastrophic flooding — some national attention.
Trump and Pence came to Baton Rouge to survey damage, visit with flood victims and relief crews and offer encouragement. The two men stopped at Greenwell Springs Baptist Church where they met with Tony Perkins, president of the Washington, D.C.-based Christian public policy ministry, Family Research Council, and Franklin Graham, president of the Christian international relief agency, Samaritan’s Purse.
“Yesterday’s visit by Donald Trump, Mike Pence, and Franklin Graham has generated a lot of interest across the country from people who want to help our church and community,” wrote Perkins, who also is serving as interim pastor of the Greenwell Springs congregation. “Today 90 volunteers from Samaritan’s Purse were sent to clean out houses in the area.
“As of last night we have had over 600 applications for assistance in removing debris and cleaning out homes,” Perkins said.
Trump and Pence were joined by other local and state officials. They met with church leaders and staff, and disaster relief volunteers, some of whom had their homes damaged by the flooding.
Trump spoke about his “tour of the suffering and devastation in Louisiana” at a speech in Michigan that evening.
“We mourn for the lives lost, and we pledge our help, comfort and support to every last person in need. To the people of Louisiana: We are with you, and we will always be with you,” Trump said. “In my visit, I saw not only the suffering of our people, but also their strength, courage and unbeatable spirit. Their spirit will overcome.”
During his visit at Greenwell Springs Baptist Church, Trump met Jimmy and Olive Morgan, who escaped the flooding by taking refuge on their roof – using their truck bed and a ladder to scale the house, according to a story on Samaritan’s Purse’s website. “They huddled together until they were able to flag down a passing rescue boat.
According to the story, Jimmy has lived his entire life in the area, and said he has never seen flooding like this before, but that he endured the hardship by drawing comfort from the Lord.
“I don’t know how people get through it, if you don’t know God.,” Jimmy Morgansaid. “I laid awake in the bed two nights and talked to Him, to the Shepherd — I didn’t count sheep, I talked to the Shepherd.”
Perkins wrote on Greenwell Springs’ Facebook page, “If you were unaffected and able to volunteer, we need as many people as possible to assist the families of our community.
“If you need food and are unable to get to the church, please let us know and we will get some food to you,” he added. “We also have bottled water at the church for those who need it and a limited supply of MREs (packaged military food known as ‘meals ready to eat’) for those who have no means of preparing food.
“Please continue to pray that God will not only guide us through this difficult time, but use us in a way He is glorified and magnified in this community,” Perkins concluded.
A BIG HELPING HAND
A large group of students from Hannan High School in Covington spent Saturday assisting Amite Baptist Church in Denham Springs in cleaning up after the flood.
“Wow,” wrote Pastor Michael Luce on Facebook, “Hannan High School is on the scene in force. They are a huge amount of help. Blessings to all of you, you are incredible.”
The students used wheel barrows to remove damaged flooring, sheet rock and carpet, and, carried out ruined chairs, desks, TVs, shelving and even a piano.
Amite was one of at least 63 Louisiana Baptist churches damaged by the flooding.
“A heartfelt thanks to our church family,” wrote Luce. “There are so many of you are stepping up and following Christ in serving others. There are so many great stories of God’s grace and mercy and so many opportunities to share. Thank you for taking care of each other and others in our community.”
HARD AT WORK
Members of Pastor Jeff Ginn’s Istrouma Baptist Church in Baton Rouge spent most of Saturday unloading buckets filled with cleaning supplies into their warehouse.
Members, young and old, formed a line to pass bucket after bucket down the line for placement in the Istrouma Warehouse. The cleaning supplies are being handed out to people who are cleaning up after catastrophic flooding last week.
FEEDING THE HUNGRY
While many churches in the flooded areas are busy with clean-up, some churches are also managing to meet another need — meals.
The Church at Addis in Baton Rouge mobilized its members Aug. 19 and cooked for 500 flood victims and workers at the Hebron Baptist Church, also in Baton Rouge. After the meal, cleaning and other supplies were distributed as well. The next day a group from Morgan City joined other churches and members of the community at Hebron to prepare a hot meal and deliver additional supplies.
Many Louisiana Baptist churches are performing critical disaster relief ministries and impacting a great number of lives. Please contact us to share about your experiences, including photos, and allow us to tell your stories – especially soul-winning testimonies. Call 318.449.4345, or email Brian@BaptistMessage.com or Philip@BaptistMessage.com.