New Orleans Notes and a Personal Word

Friday through Tuesday, I’m in North Alabama visiting with my mother at Nauvoo. Saturday afternoon, members of our 1958 graduating class from Winston County High School are meeting at Jack’s Hamburgers in Double Springs for some fellowship. Sunday morning, I’m preaching in classmate Lynn Pope’s church at 8:30 am. (I’m depending on him to tell me Saturday afternoon where it is and how to get there.) Then at 10:30, I’ll worship with Mom and the family at New Oak Grove Free Will Baptist. At 6 pm (I’m pretty sure), our favorite Nashville gospel trio, No Other Name, does a concert at New Prospect Baptist Church in Jasper, and our family absolutely has to be there! We’ll be bringing them a dozen or so of Mom’s turnovers–apple and blueberry–to eat on their late-night drive back to Music City.

(“No Other Name” is the group in which Laura is the “girl singer.” Laura works at the Baptist Press in Nashville and posts our cartoons on each day. They are an incredible group. Type No Other Name into your search mechanism and go to their website and listen to a sample of their inspiring harmonies. And if you’re in the Jasper area Sunday night, come down Highway 5 to New Prospect and meet them. Laura’s brother Sam sings in the group, as does their friend Chad. Laura’s husband Chris is the manager. Keep your eyes on them. They are really something.)

Anyway, look for no regular postings on this website until Wednesday.

Now, from New Orleans….

1. The local housing authority, using federal funds, is signing contracts worth $30 million to tear down the five shuttered housing developments that were flooded and ruined by Katrina. This would be St. Bernard, Lafitte, and such. The former residents of these sad neighborhoods are still scattered across the nation, and at various times, have returned to cry for the right to “come home.” No one feels a sense of victory in the demolition of these places other than because they were centers of crime, drug usage, and poverty. Multi-income housing will be built on these sites. Demolition should begin within the next couple of weeks.

2. FEMA says it is shutting down all its trailer parks in New Orleans. Originally the plan was to provide temporary housing for a year to 18 months for displaced residents with these inexpensive box trailers. We are now into the fourth month past two years, and thousands of locals have made no plans to live anywhere else. FEMA assures the citizens that no one will be thrown onto the streets, and that those with nowhere to go will be sent to hotels. Obviously, this will be of limited duration, and within a year or so, I expect these residents will find their checks ending. What will happen then we can only imagine.

3. Wednesday, the board members of the New Orleans Baptist Missions held a conference call to vote to enter into a temporary housing agreement with the City of New Orleans and a local missions center to provide emergency shelter for the homeless this winter. We’re told that far more homeless live in the city than even prior to Katrina, yet the accommodations are fewer. For one thing, our Brantley Center has been locked up ever since the hurricane. The building is old and in bad need of repair, and the staff has been reassigned by NOBM to other duties. Former director Tobey Pitman, still a NAMB missionary, is working with the Southern Baptist Churches on the northshore (Hammond to Covington to Slidell and northward), helping to rebuild churches and ministries. We hear great things out of his work across the lake. Assistant director David Rhymes was assigned to work out of our associational office as an evangelism strategist; we’re proud to have him.

4. December 1 marks the end of this year’s hurricane season. Scroll back to around June 1 and read the number of hurricanes which the experts predicted. Now, you’ll get no complaint about the scarcity of hurricanes in the two years since Katrina left her calling card. They say that Humberto has been the only storm of any size to hit the U.S. mainland in these last two years, and it was only a Category One.

What I wonder, however, is how we justify paying out millions of dollars for storm centers to do all their studies and then make their predictions. Come next June 1, they’ll be given headlines in papers all across this part of the world: “Experts predict 5 major hurricanes.” I suppose we could be charitable and say theirs is still an infant science. But still….

Couple of problems with making predictions that do not come true. One, less and less will anyone pay any attention to their predictions and warnings, and one day we will need to. Two, the fact is that hurricanes can come any time. They’re just more likely in the six months from June 1 to December 1.

How about a smile…

We heard this week that Mississippi Senator Trent Lott announced his retirement from the U. S. Senate. Tuesday, while in that state for the funeral of Dorothy Green, I bought a Clarion-Ledger and read an extended account of this announcement. Toward the end, the reporter told how Senator and Mrs. Lott recently joined the First Baptist Church of Jackson. Pastor Stan Buckley had preached a sermon from Ecclesiastes 3 in which he spoke of “the time” for various things. The senator said the Lord used that to speak to him, that this was the time for him to retire from the senate.

The next day, I drew a cartoon and emailed it to Pastor Buckley, suggesting that we would love to have him preach that same sermon in New Orleans. We have a number of politicians down here who need to hear it!!