What a day! Our 5 1/2 hour trip took almost 7 hours, but we had smooth sailing all the way. Part of the problem was that we had to stop at Best Buy; the rest had to do with being two fifty-something year old men.
As we traveled through Mississippi, we noticed some previous storm damage, but we didn’t see any flooding. However, the Pearl River was very high still, and some of the smaller rivers were still at flood stage it seemed. But when we crossed into Louisiana, we started seeing lots of water. From the fields along the interstate to the Mighty Mississippi River, you could tell that there was lots of flooding going on. Once we entered Ouachita Parish, things got worse. Water which had probably been over the interstate a few days ago had receded–but not very far. Just a few feet from the highway, you could see that the rivers were still far out of their banks. When we arrived in Monroe, the devastation was obvious. Ditches along the roads looked like small rivers. Sandbags and plywood were the only things keeping the intersecting roads open. One church not far from where we were staying is flooded–water rising up into their sanctuary. Even the little bit of devastation that we have seen is incredible.
We had not been in the Command Center for long when we started hearing the stories. Home after home flossed. A single mother with an adult son with cerebral palsy. A pastor trying to minister to his people while his house is in shambles. One home so rat infested that the flood may have been a blessing.
But there was a bright light shining in the darkness in the form of a group of BCM students from the University of Alabama in Huntsville. These students had chosen to use their Spring Break not tearing up the beaches in South Alabama and participating in the big party down south but instead demonstrating God’s love to needy people. Ironically, they had signed up to go to Williamsburg, Kentucky to serve but circumstances beyond anyone’s control canceled that trip. Well, I should say that these circumstances were beyond human control because God had a plan. After a crash course in “mud-out,” they headed for Monroe, Louisiana where they have already touched lots of lives. One lady had been totally unresponsive to the teams until three of these female college students showed up, and then she opened up and cried while they put their arms around her and cried, too.
That’s why we are here – to touch lives. Some of us will do it by cleaning up the mess left behind by the floods. Some will provide hot meals. And some will put an arm around a shoulder and let these people know that there is a God in heaven who loves them, and He wants to walk through this dark valley with them. And we will be His hands, His feet, and His voice because that’s what Southern Baptist Disaster Relief is all about.