Virginia Tech–and Us

Some 25 percent of locals are planning to leave this area, a new poll shows. Or, to turn that depressing statistic around, 75 percent who responded to a survey last month say they plan to stay in the area permanently. Of that number, 47 percent however admitted they are not hopeful about the future of the New Orleans region.

According to Thursday’s Times-Picayune, that poll was conducted on behalf of the Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse for Greater New Orleans. CADA takes an annual community survey of attitudes on matters related to underage drinking and substance abuse. A year ago, the organization added other questions in order to discover attitudes about life here since Katrina.

John King, executive director of CADA, said those who responded to the poll from St. Bernard Parish have a more negative view than other parishes. The telephone poll queried 608 people in the metro area between March 20 and April 3. Fully one third of St. Bernardians say they plan to leave. Once you move into Orleans and Jefferson parishes, the percentage drops to 16, or about one in eight.

Sixty percent of those interviewed said they feel the area is more dangerous now than before Katrina. Again, the numbers are higher in St. Bernard, with 78 percent saying so. But even in Orleans and Jefferson, more than one-half agree.

More to the point for CADA’s purposes, the interviewees were asked if a family member is showing signs of emotional distress due to Katrina and its aftermath. In St. Bernard, 88 percent said yes. The percentage in Orleans is 48 and 46 in Jefferson. This stress is producing a higher rate of divorces, suicides, and incidents of domestic violence, King said. On television Wednesday night, John King pointed out that most of the city’s psychiatrists and psychologists and other workers in the alcohol-and-drug-abuse field did not return to the city after Katrina but moved their practices away.

So the problems are more severe and the health workers scarcer. Anyone see a pattern developing here?

Not sure if this is good news or what, but the father of one of our ministers has won the lottery in Tennessee. He won it to the tune of $2 million, according to the report we received. No one asked, but I think we might want to pray for him, too.


“Father in Heaven,

Our wonderful Lord, Our Sovereign God,

You are our Comfort when we hurt,

Our Rock when we search for footing,

Our Strength when we feel like quitting,

Our Love when we begin to feel angry.

We offer to you our prayer today for the Virginia Tech family.

For the families and friends of those whose lives were taken Monday, April 16, 2007–give them faith, Father.

For the ones who were injured and are now recovering–bless them and guide those who minister to them, Father.

For students and faculty and staff who are still reeling from the biggest blow of their lives–steady them in Thee, Father.

For the law enforcement people who have not had time to grieve as they deal with all the aspects of this tragedy–strengthen them in Thee, Father.

For the custodial workers who will have to go into those dorms and classrooms and clean up all that is left behind–accompany them, Father, and fix their minds on Thee.

For the untold thousands on campuses and in churches all over the land who are pausing to turn their hearts toward Thee on behalf of these, thank you. Hear their prayers and bless them, too.

For ministers who will stand in pulpits across our nation to try to help their people make sense of such tragedies and to find hope–enlighten them with thy Word, O Father, and empower their words.

And one thing more, Father. We ask that you send a spiritual awakening on our college campuses. The illusion of security for these young people has been shattered, but human nature being resilient as it is, many will quickly absorb the shock and move on, having learned nothing about life from this tragedy. We ask Thee not to let this happen. We pray that collegians across America and beyond will turn to Thee through Jesus Christ and find permanent meaning for their lives, the true purpose for their existence, and the ultimate destiny for their souls. In so doing, not only will they begin to live forever, but they will find the abundant life in Christ which He died to bring and for which they’ve been searching.

We pray this through our Lord Jesus Christ, who taught us that the way of real life leads through the cross of Calvary, that the joy of the Lord can be ours in the worst of heartaches, and that to all who look to Him the victory that overcomes the world is ours. Through Him and Him alone be praise forever and ever.


4 thoughts on “Virginia Tech–and Us

  1. Thanks, Dr. Joe. Your prayer for the Virginia Tech family is beautiful and will be shared with our friends.

    Tricia Garner, Fredericksburg, Virginia

  2. All of us in Virginia appreciate your prayers. The sense of solidarity generated by this tragedy is something to behold. Our city of Lynchburg is approximately half-way between Blacksburg, home of Virginia Tech, and Charlottesville, home of the University of Virginia. As a result we have a near-parity between the number of Hokie and ‘Hoos fans in our community, and the rivalry between VT and UVA is only slightly less volcanic than that between Alabama and Auburn (Dr. Joe knows what I mean). Yet this week I’ve seen many die-hard UVA fans sporting maroon and orange in support of their Hokie neighbors. Countless businesses have placed messages supportive of VT on their signs, and the students at Liberty University have repainted their “spirit rock” (a giant boulder located on the LU campus) in VT colors. I have not seen an outpouring like this since 9/11.

    Something else struck me during the convocation held at VT on Tuesday. Representatives from four faith communities were invited to address the crowd assembled in Tech’s colliseum. The Muslim representative offered a prayer for peace in the name of Allah, the Buddhist representative offered quotes from Buddha and the Dalai Lama, the Jewish delegation presented a beautiful recitation from Ecclesiates (in both English and Hebrew), but when it was time for the Christian minister to speak all he could offer were generic platitudes on love, forgiveness and inclusiveness. It was up to our governor, a Roman Catholic and a Democrat, to suggest that Christ’s resurrection gives us the power to be victorious over unspeakable evil such as we saw demonstrated in Monday’s shooting.

    Continue to pray for the grieving, but pray also that believers in Virginia will take advantage of this opportunity to share the hope of Christ in the midst of this horrible situation.

  3. Joe, your prayer was so appropriate and expresses what I have been praying all week, I printed out the prayer and saved it in my Inspirational file. Three of the students attended my church, Blacksburg Baptist. Our pastor has had the sad task of notifying some of the families of their loss, because he is one of the police chaplains.

    Many of our friends and church members are active or retired professors at Tech. Town and campus are a mourning community. How I pray that the Holy Spirit will touch all our Christian students and result in an outpouring of revival…a discovery of Christ by those hundreds who are lost on campus and in town.

    Ginny Hendricks

  4. The responses of students, parents, and school officials to the Monday’s tragedy whispered that God was indeed in that place. I am rarely impressed with cliche’ responses to life events, and at VT I heard none. What I saw and heard were real people facing the darkness with candles of faith.

    In the days ahead faith questions will surface, as they must for there to be healing. Answers will be tried on like clothes at a rummage sell, and like those clothes none will fit perfectly.

    But hope is not found in the answers given, but in the presence of the living Christ, made plain through the lives of the people of God.

    My prayer, added to Joe’s and to that of millions of others, is that God’s people, many of whom have been affected up close by this tragedy, will walk faithfully and courageously, drawing from the deep reserves of strength and hope that flows into their lives through the presence of the Holy Spirit. — Ken Watkins, from the top of the map.

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