By Baptist Message staff
ALEXANDRIA, La. (LBM) – Louisiana Baptist state missions team members began distributing funds Friday, Sept. 3, to pastors whose homes were heavily damaged by Hurricane Ida.
The emergency gifts were made possible through gifts to the Georgia Barnette State Mission Offering and donations from churches and individuals.
“We have worked with the associational missionaries in the most affected regions to identify pastors with great need,” Louisiana Baptist Executive Director Steve Horn told the Baptist Message. “We are blessing them with a small gift to help them with daily essentials and asking God to use it mainly to be an encouragement to them. We do anticipate more needs in the coming weeks and are prepared to bless other pastors as well.”
So far, 70 Louisiana Baptist churches, associational offices and ministry centers have been confirmed as having sustained damage or destruction from the Category 4 hurricane. However, Lafourche and Terrebone Parishes were hard hit and churches there have been out of reach by phone or internet.
“It’s from minor to catastrophic,” Louisiana Baptist Missions and Ministry Team Director John Hebert said. “Pray for the churches well being physically and emotionally. They will have a long road ahead of them and need much prayer and encouragement.”
Pastor Avery Dixon said Trinity Baptist Church, Hammond, lost a roof and took in water.
“Pray for workers and resources and money to fix it all,” Dixon said. “Pray that people stay safe and don’t get worn out fixing things on our buildings and in their homes and businesses.”
Faith Church in Franklinton sustained major damage, according to Pastor Lucas Larry he noted that the community is dealing with the loss of electricity and long lines to buy gasoline while still ministering to people and handling it all within the context of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“Yes, our building has been destroyed but I care more about the people,” Larry said. “If anything, pray that we can get back to a sense of normalcy and that people’s homes would be repaired so they can get back to enjoying life and ministry without fear.”
Memorial Baptist Church in Metairie has roof damage to the education life center, minor leaks to school facilities and some downed fences, according to a Facebook Live video posted by Pastor Dan Pritchett.
“What we want to bank on through this time is God, and His word and His love for us,” Pritchett said. “We know that He cares for us in the midst of all of this and our satisfaction is in Him. So we are going to continue to put our satisfaction in Him. We put our satisfaction in the things of this world – they always let us down. They are here today, they are gone tomorrow. We are here today, we are gone tomorrow. We’ve got to put ourselves in the most solid thing ever and that is the love and power and the relationship we have with Jesus Christ.”
Suburban Baptist Church in New Orleans, which previously rebuilt after a Hurricane Katrina flooded its facility on Aug. 29, 2005, and again after a tornado destroyed its buildings on Feb. 7, 2017, now has sustained Hurricane Ida damage, too. Pastor Jeffery Friend said he is still assessing damage, but was confident Suburban Baptist would persevere.
“People may ask which was worse, this storm or others and what are your plans going forward,” Friend said. “The storm that was worse is the storm I’m dealing with today. We don’t have time to waste comparing it with yesterday’s storms. Please pray for us in any and everything.”
Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans, whose former facilities were flooded in the aftermath of Katrina, lost a section of the roof of its new worship center in East New Orleans, creating an opening for water to enter and damage the foyer and media room.
Pastor Fred Luter said he could not believe another major hurricane impacted the city on the same day Katrina made landfall. But, he added, the city recovered after Katrina and will do so after Ida.
“We will get through this,” Luter said. “To pastors, do all that you possibly can to check on your members because in times like this, members look up to their pastor. This is a difficult time people go through and for them to hear a word of encouragement from their pastor means a lot.”