A Volunteer's Tale : Hitchcock Foursquare
The SMELLS have changed! As we say goodbye to our friends and co-laborers in the Mississippi Gulf Coast, I reflect on the fact that the smells have changed. I still remember the first days on the coast when all a person could smell was the stench of death and rotten sea mud. There was also the stench of HOPELESSNESS and despair as people were trying to figure out how to get started rebuilding their lives. I still remember Rick, Darren, Andrew, myself and a few other brothers as we stood in awe of the destruction and the stench in the air. But I also remember the fragrance of life as we began to see the hope and the hands of our lord Jesus Christ and the prayers of his saints being offered up in the midst of all the destruction.
As we have spent this past year helping people dig their lives out, we have smelled other things like the SWEAT of believers working hard and praying hard. To many, that may not smell good but to God it is a sweet fragrance of sowing life unto life. We have enjoyed the fragrance of brothers and sisters who have dropped denomination walls and stood shoulder to shoulder under the banner of the love of Jesus our Lord and who have became HIS visible body to those that could not see HIM because of religious AND ethnic walls. How will they know we are HIS disciples? By our love one for another! THAT’S A SWEET SMELL!
I was even thinking of teams who have come to do relief work but find themselves out of their comfort zone and under tremendous pressure. When relationships have been strained to the point of breaking, the Holy Spirit has shown up in power and grace and has changed the "odor" from the stench of hurt and misunderstanding to the fragrance of peace and joy in relationships made whole.
Probably one of the greatest smells has been to walk into God’’s Katrina Kitchen in Pass Christian MS or First Missionary Baptist in Pearlington MS when teams have been working all day and workers are swapping stories, laughing, and loving. No one worried about race or religious differences –– it was just the pure innocent love of Jesus. I think the revelation of Jesus’’ words come alive when he said "If two or more would gather in my name I would be in the midst of them". A room (or tent) full of believers eating and loving - it just doesn’t get any better than that! The fragrance makes you want to stay all day.
As for me, I am back on deck at the local church I pastor and back to work in the community where I live. God has already opened the doors in the new Galveston County jail for me and others to minister to almost 12,000 inmates every Monday night. And, on a personal note, I am definitely enjoying being a grandfather. I really am enjoying being re-focused on the new season in which God has called our church.
My prayers are the same for all you who have moved into new seasons - that God will help you to QUICKLY CONNECT to your new season. We must redeem the time because the days are evil!
THANKS so much to all you soldiers of the cross who have labored and are continuing to labor in these relief efforts. Thanks so much to TERRY & CYNTHIA OWENS, LANCE BURTON, STEVE & ELAINE BARLOW and TRACE WALDING. I want to thank "ALL" my friends at GOD’S KATRINA KITCHEN as well as RICK WALTH & his daughter SABRINA WALTH who run the Bay St. Louis relief camp. Lastly, I want to thank my wife PATTY and daughter LIZ as well as GLEN BURRIS, LISA PENWORTHY, ADAM DAVIDSON, my Supervisor TONY KRISHACK and our District Administrator ANNE SOMMER for their support.
THANKS to all of you for your love and help this past year. PLEASE REMEMBER TO PRAY FOR THOSE THAT ARE CONTINUING ON IN THE FIGHT to restore the MS Gulf Coast. The work is not done yet.
THANKS TO ALL!!
Pastor John Elliott