GULF COAST MINISTRY
>From Don & Patti Hall
-- October 1, 2005
reported, a double whammy hit the Gulf Coast in less than a month. Two
sisters, Katrina and Rita, left paths of destruction and heartache in
their wake -- 1,100 dead, over 400,000 homes destroyed, and millions
evacuated. Now, shattered lives are trying desperately to pick up the
pieces and find hope for the future.
I felt I had to
do something beyond the usual financial help. The work of our team in
Sri Lanka during June among the Tsunami survivors had prepared my heart
for Katrina. So, I immediately responded to an invitation to join a
first responder team of pastors & chaplains going to the hurricane
ravaged parts of southern Mississippi & Louisiana.
Some who were trained in Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM)
served with the Pastoral Resource Council (PRC) in Baton Rouge, LA.
They provided debriefing and trauma counseling to firefighters, police,
and State troopers who were doing search & rescue work at ground
zero in New Orleans. Others of us served in a variety of ways in
Biloxi, MS, along the devastated Gulf Coast.
Part of my time as chaplain was spent providing pastoral care for
individuals and families who came to the two Relief Centers where we
served. Other times that help took place in neighborhoods with
grief-stricken residents who had lost everything. We heard one
heartbreaking story after another. One Vietnamese fisherman told me how
he was able to save his family in the rising 20 ft. storm surge by
hanging on desperately to tree tops, while helplessly watching 5 of his
neighbors drown. Many in despair were loved, encouraged, prayed for,
and given Godly counsel.
Much of our work
in the Relief/Distribution Centers was physically daunting. Our days
were long and sleep scarce in the "tent city". Over 2,500 people a day
came to receive water, ice, food, clothing, medical aid, or a hot meal.
We served along side dozens of volunteers from across America -- most
from churches and other faith-based ministries. In fact, we often heard
displaced people say in appreciation, "If it weren't for you
Christians, we would never make it and would probably be dead. May God
bless you for coming!"
My last two days in Mississippi were spent about 100 miles north of the
coast assessing damaged areas that, for the most part, are still
overlooked by the media and relief workers -- although the Red Cross
was there providing financial and other aid to effected people. The RC
Director of a county Relief Center told me they were launching Mobile
teams that would go directly to the homes of shut-ins and others with
no transportation. He asked if I would make contact with local pastors
and government agencies informing them of this new program. So, for
most of that day I assisted the Red Cross in this effort.
Less than 3 days after returning home, Rita hit the region. Now, more
shattered lives need someone to reach out to them in love (Matt.
25:34-40). And, the church is rising up. God's people are praying,
giving and going! One local church in our area sent $100,000 for the
relief effort, two truck loads of goods, and yesterday sent a team of
14 to clean out flooded homes and do repair work. Our chaplain teams
are going to the region nearly every week. This week's team includes
Carson Curcini, a former Singles leader at the church we pastored in
the Bay Area. I also hope to return soon.
Thank you so much to those making it possible for us to be a part of
this vital emergency effort. Your prayers and partnership are making a
difference in hundreds of grateful lives.
Lovingly in Christ,
Don & Patti Hall
Youth With A Mission
Home: 23365 Barnes Ln, Colfax, CA 95713
University of the Nations 75-5851 Kuakini Hwy, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740
(Payable to "YWAM" and Designated for "Don & Patti Hall")