Here’s the plan for the future pastors meetings. We will assemble one more Wednesday, October 25, at Good Shepherd (Spanish) Baptist Church. Then, the first three Wednesdays of November (Nov. 1, 8, and 15) we are the guests of the New Orleans Chinese Baptist Church which is actually located in Kenner. (See directions below) We will skip November 22, Thanksgiving Eve, as many people will be out of town. After that, we move to the associational offices at 2222 Lakeshore Drive in New Orleans. The plan is to meet there each week at 10 am, but have lunch only the first Wednesday of the month. Got that? And at this point, we don’t see beyond this arrangement.
There’s too much going on of too great importance to drop back to monthly meetings.
The Chinese Baptist Church is located on Continental Drive in Kenner. Drive west on West Esplanade, past the Esplanade Mall, across Chateau Boulevard, past the Kenner Library on your right. As you pass Anastasia Alexander Elementary on your right, look for Continental on your left. The church is the second building down that street. Hong Fu Liu is the pastor and he promises great Chinese eating.
We have been spoiled. Last Fall when we began these weekly gatherings in LaPlace, the wonderful secretary Karrie would do the lunches alone, sometimes ordering po-boys, sometimes cooking lasagna and preparing a salad. It was terrific and everything we could have asked for. Then, for May through July, we met at Oak Forest Baptist Church, a congregation with a lot of senior volunteers who delighted in feeding the preachers. So the meals kicked up a notch. We’ve met at Good Shepherd since July, and these wonderful people are setting impossible standards. In addition to the incredible Hispanic meals, fresh flowers adorn every table. If we stay there much longer, I expect to see waiters at each table taking orders!
Pastor Thuong Le of the Vietnamese Church asked the ministers to pray for his hometown of DaNang in Central Vietnam which was devastated by a storm two weeks ago. His church is trying to raise enough money to assist fifty families. His goal is $5,000, of which his congregation has raised 40 percent. He distributed flyers and we encouraged the pastors either to receive an offering or simply send a check of any size to that church. (Contributions should be made out to the church and mailed to Viet Nam Baptist Church, 203 17th Street, Gretna, LA. 70053)
I didn’t tell Pastor Le but my family has an indirect connection with DaNang. In the early 1970s when the USA’s involvement in that country was coming to a head, a hospital in that city was fighting a losing battle repairing the burned bodies of children. Margaret and I began sending monthly checks to assist them. One day when I came home for lunch, she was reading Newsweek magazine with more tragic stories about these children and she was in tears. “Isn’t there more that we can do?” she said. I suggested we could send more money each month. “No,” she said, “I mean, like, adopt one of them.” No, no, no, I said. “You don’t just adopt a Vietnamese child!”
Very long story cut short, that child–the one God laid on Margaret’s heart–turned out to be Korean. Her name was Kim Jin Ok. We adopted her in May of 1974 and she now lives in Laconia, New Hampshire, and is the mother of Leah, Jessica, and JoAnne, three of the most wonderful granddaughters anyone could ask for.
It started with our small contact with DaNang. When I got back to the office this afternoon, we cut a check to assist Pastor Thuong Le and his church as they reach back to their homeland in love and compassion.
David Rhymes is the newest addition to our associational staff. We’ve known David and wife Jamie for several years, since they were seminary students and members of the Kenner church. He directs the RAs and she the GAs in the church (for you non-Baptists, that’s our children’s mission organizations). After graduation, David was appointed a NAMB missionary and assigned to the Brantley Center for the homeless. Most recently, he has supervised the Volunteer Village. Now, he’s moving into an area of his first love: evangelism. David will be an evangelism strategist working with the 27 zones of metro New Orleans, helping the pastors inside each zone determine what ministries and assistance they will be needing and wanting from the sponsoring state conventions or associations. Then, he will work with those incoming volunteers to get a handle on that work in that area. His email is email@example.com.
The exciting thing to us is that we get his energy and involvement in a needed area that is not being touched right now, and he continues as a NAMB missionary. Your Cooperative Program offerings at work. And frankly, I can’t think of a better use of them!!
Joe Kay bade good-bye to the group today. Last January, Joe arrived from Greensboro, NC, to assist Oak Park Baptist Church through their post-Katrina crisis. He had served as a staffer there some 30 years earlier. Through Joe’s leadership, our pastors were invited to meet in their church for the Wednesdays of this summer. He announces that things are going much better at Oak Park and it’s time for him to return home. We are grateful for his positive can-do spirit. He has been a blessing in every way.
Boogie Melerine says Delacroix Hope Church is negotiating for a piece of property and he wants prayers. Thomas Glover announced that New Covenant Mission is about to purchase the buildings and property of their mother church, Woodmere Baptist. Woodmere will be purchasing the facilities of House of Prayer Lutheran Church at 3000 Manhattan in Harvey, a lovely site with wonderful buildings. Win-win for everyone.
Steve Gahagan announced that Operation NOAH Rebuild has teams working on restoring the homes of Craig Ratliff and Philip Russell, both in St. Bernard Parish. Steve spoke of the frustrations and ever-changing situations he faces. “I tell teams coming to help us that they need to be flexible because if you are not flexible, you’re going to be mad all week.” Right now, Steve desperately needs four more construction assessors to help. These are people who know what is required to build or rebuild a house and can pay a visit to one we’ve been asked to work on and assess what will be required.
We actually had no visitors at today’s meeting. Each of the 36 present was tied in with a local church and ministry. We discussed the business of pastors learning names of their people (see the previous blog) and we laughed a lot. Joe Kay said, “In the days when you had to go through an operator to make a person-to-person call, I would tell the operator my name was Joe Kay. They never knew what to do with that. She would say, ‘Joe what?’ I would say, ‘Kay. Like H-I-J-K.’ And she would come back, ‘All right, Mr. Hijk.'”
Bill Rogers, age 76, pastor of Grace Baptist Church for 30 years, is up to defend his doctoral project and paper next week. Assuming all goes well, he graduates from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in December with a doctor of ministry degree. At lunch, he broke the group up with this. “While pastoring Grace, I also worked as a parole officer for St. Bernard Parish. One day I had a lady in my office who had brought her four-year-old child with her. I think she was taking care of some business about an older son who was in trouble with the law. I was trying my best to help her. She turned to her little boy and said, ‘Honey, when you grow up, do you want Mister Bill to be your parole officer?”
High hopes for that child, yessirree.
Next Wednesday, Dr. Tom Elliff of the International Mission Board will be speaking at the 10 am chapel service at the seminary, followed by a pastors luncheon at 11:30 am. We’ve encouraged our guys to attend that. However, we’ll continue at Good Shepherd as usual, this being our final meeting there. It is also possible to attend the first hour of our meeting, then cut out in time to make the seminary luncheon where Brother Tom will also be speaking.