Second Anniversary of Katrina

Several have asked for an update on Rudy French, pastor of Norco’s First Baptist Church, who returned to Canada for heart surgery earlier this month. Thanks to the Lord, he’s doing just fine.

Rudy and Rose are following doctor’s orders and he’s taking a month to rest up, something he did not do earlier this year when the same surgical procedure was done. This time, he’s learned his lesson.

With so much going on down here, in the community and in his church, it’s next to impossible for Rudy to tune everything out and let his mind be at rest. I counseled him that, if things went bad in the surgery and God called you to Heaven, what would we do here; so, pretend you’re in Heaven for the next six weeks and then come back to earth. They actually took that bizarre bit of semi-wisdom and are working at doing just that. (It’s fairly obvious why I never was much of a counselor.)

Thanks to you who prayed for them. Now, a related prayer request: please pray for his church which has a business meeting scheduled for this Sunday in his absence.

This Wednesday, being the second anniversary of the hurricane that changed New Orleans forever, will see a vast array of memorial events. The one most of our Baptist churches are connected to will take place at the First Baptist Church of New Orleans, 5290 Canal Boulevard, at 7 pm. Will Graham, son of Franklin and grandson of Billy, will preach. George Shinn, owner of our NBA team, the Hornets, will speak and Lisa Pierre will sing. A number of people are slated to lead in prayer. This is, after all, billed as a prayer rally.

We’re urging all our pastors to bring their congregations to this gathering. We Baptists have been so few and so outnumbered for so long, it’s great to come together once in a while, if for no other reason, just to encourage one another. That said, I should point out that this anniversary prayer rally will be non-denominational and certainly open to everyone.

On the same day, Wednesday, our beloved School of Providence and Prayer, the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, will turn out classes and send the students, faculty, and administration into the city for a day of work and ministry. Then, at 1 pm, they will gather in the Leavell Chapel for a report time. The school began this inspiring practice on the first anniversary last year. I’d love to see them continue indefinitely.

I’ll be flying out Sunday afternoon for Charlotte, North Carolina, and speaking Monday at the installation luncheon for Dr. Robert Canoy, the new president of the M. Christopher White Divinity School affiliated with Gardner-Webb University in Boiling Springs, NC. And just how did I happen to get such an honor? It’s a God-thing, as we say.

Sometime toward the last part of my first post-seminary pastorate (Emmanuel Baptist Church, Greenville, MS; we’re talking 1967 to 1970), William and Dorothy Canoy retired from the military and moved to our town with their three (I believe) young sons. Robert was about 10. Anyway, I had the privilege of welcoming them into the Lord’s family and baptizing some or all of them. Not long after, I joined the staff of the First Baptist Church of Jackson, MS, and life moved on.

I still recall the day Robert Canoy sent a note from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, telling me he was a pastor and was completing his Ph.D. work there. That was a stunner. Later, he served the FBC of Rockville, Maryland, and the FBC of Shelby, NC. And now he’s training preachers and other ministers for the Lord. Pretty impressive.

Robert visited my website, saw my life-verse, Job 4:4, “Your words have stood men on their feet,” amd said, “That would be a great topic for your luncheon message.” And so it is.

Monday, we’ll post the message on this website. At the 11:30 am luncheon, we’ll be on a tight schedule (the actual installation service begins at 1 pm), so I expect to present the Reader’s Digest version and invite anyone wanting “the rest of the story” to this blog. Regular readers of our voluminous outpourings on this site will be familiar with most of the content of the message. It’s like my child, though, in that I never tire of it. Pastors know the feeling of having a key message–one dear to your heart–which you are always mulling over, forever trying to improve. That’s this one.

Friday, I drove down St. Charles Avenue and visited with the new Inspector General of New Orleans, Robert Cerasoli, in the conference room of Loyola University. But I had to stand in line. In the outer office, I sat with a news anchor from the NBC affiliate and his cameraman, who were waiting while a reporter from the N.O. Business magazine interviewed Cerasoli. Anyone who knows me knows what happened next. I drew the two men and ended up drawing several people from the admissions office across the hall.

Cerasoli insisted that I sit in on the television interview. It was a real learning experience, more than I have the time or permission to go into here. And what exactly does an Inspector General for a city do? “It’s 90 percent prevention of corruption and 10 percent detection of corruption,” he said.

How would one go about preventing corruption in this or any other city? Answer: study the procedures the employees are following and look for loopholes. Is there accountability? Are the employees and officials in the administration held to the letter of the law?

I mentioned here earlier that Cerasoli has said when we have lunch together, he will buy his own. That’s how strict he is about not compromising. He turned down the city automobile offered as a perk of the job.

One gets the impression after a few minutes with him that this man is dead serious about the assignment he’s been handed.

Prior to the television interview, the news anchor and I found ourselves agreeing that the one thing we wish for Mr. Cerasoli is that he will be a man of action and not, like some other “leaders” of this city who shall go unnamed, all talk and little action. We’ve had enough of that to last a lifetime.

Thanks for your prayers. Pray especially on Wednesday please.