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Pastors turn to social media to offer encouragement in wake of Ida

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Views from the sky show the extent of damage from Hurricane Ida. (Photo/U.S. Coast Guard)

By Baptist Message staff

NEW ORLEANS – Louisiana Baptist pastors used social media a day after Hurricane Ida as a means to encourage members and others impacted by the powerful storm.

Dennis Watson, lead pastor of Celebration Church in Metairie, encouraged his members and others to stay strong. All of the church’s eight campuses had some damage, including the Kenner campus building that lost a roof and the River Parishes campus facility in LaPlace that took in water.

“We will get through this,” he wrote. “The Lord has brought us back from destruction in times past, and He will do so again. Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 1:8-10: ‘We think you ought to know . . . about the trouble we went through . . . We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God . . . And He did rescue us from mortal danger, and He will rescue us again. We have placed our confidence in Him, and He will continue to rescue us.’”

Dean Ross, pastor of Family Church NOLA in Kenner, which was in the path of the eye of the hurricane, said his church and the area will be resilient and persevere. The church’s playground was heavily damaged and the building took in significant water.

“My heart is heavy but my hope is great,” he wrote. “My confidence in the days ahead couldn’t be greater. Restoration is here. His name is JESUS! We will make it & we will move ahead TOGETHER AS FAMILY. ‘Weeping may stay overnight, but there is JOY in the morning.’ -Psalm‬ ‭30:5‬.”

Corey Olivier, director of the New Orleans Metro Baptist Collegiate Ministries that encompasses Tulane University, Loyola University, the University of New Orleans and Leavell College — all with campuses in New Orleans — encouraged his students through the GroupMe messaging app.

“Dear BCM, What a day/night we have gone through. Some of you went through it first hand while many of us went through it from a distance. In an hour or so the daylight will peer through the clouds and what has been covered by darkness will be made light. It will be a humbling, frightening, and depressing sight to see. This is not the time to lose heart or hope. This is exactly the time that those who are in Christ have the opportunity to be the greatest reflectors of Gospel in both word and deed. Our ministry may look different in the weeks and months ahead. Our mission will never change. Obviously it is too soon to determine what our exact next steps are. So, with that in mind we, ‘Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.’ (Ps. 27:14)”

Matthew Chouest, pastor of First Baptist Church in Golden Meadow, one of the hardest hit areas in Louisiana, cited Proverbs 3:5-6 as a guide for their future.

“To our beloved community, we are patiently waiting for the permission to get in and set up to distribute disaster relief supplies, water, and food,” he wrote. “As soon as we can we will be there to minister and serve you. We will come together and rebuild. Much love to you all.”

Don Pucik, associational mission strategist for Northshore Baptist Association, with churches located along Lake Pontchartrain, wrote on his page that God is a great comfort in times such as these.

“In our darkest moment, there is a deep work in the heart that He assigns to no one else…

“’…he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted…’ ~ Isaiah 61:1 (Jesus quotes this in Luke 4:18 – describing His mission)

“‘…God of all comfort, who comforts us…’ ~ 2 Corinthians 1:3-4”

Rick Elder, pastor of First Baptist Church in Roseland, north of Hammond, broadcast his daily video devotional from the church parking lot. First Baptist’s fellowship hall took in water.

“I pray that you would bring revival to Louisiana through this hurricane. I pray that many, many people would hear the Gospel and would become born again, would become saved.”

Wayne Hunt, pastor of Coteau Baptist Church in Houma, close to where Ida made landfall, used Matthew 7:24-27 and Luke 6:47-49 for encouragement.

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.

“Is your hope in your STUFF or in Christ. Built on sand or on the Rock? Your response to the storms of life show others what’s important to you.”

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