Jul 13

NOLA ’11 Mission Team Reflections

Last week we had over 60 people serving on a mission trip in New Orleans.  This is the second time we have sent a team down to NOLA to help with the continued needs of Katrina relief.  Overall it was an amazing week.  We broke up the team into six groups, and sent them off to do construction on six homes.  Our work included framing, hanging drywall, finishing drywall, demolition, painting, clearing brush and much more.  In addition to construction, the team had many opportunities to meet people in the community and pray for them.  This was a key component as we were a little apprehensive to go on prayer-walks in a community we were not familiar with.  As a team, there was a deeper connection that happened, as we did life together.  Team members were supportive of each other, prayed for each other, and encouraged each other.  Since we have been home, Facebook has been the hub for exchanging pictures, becoming friends and keeping connected.

There are several things that I have been reflecting on over the past few days since I have been home:

  • It has been six years since Katrina, and over 45,000 homes within the city limits of New Orleans are still uninhabitable.  Most of us would find that unacceptable by our standards.  What would happen if 45,000 churches in America would send a well-resourced team to New Orleans for a week, and helped these families get their life back?
  • Six years after Katrina, 2000 ppl/homes are still in litigation with insurance companies debating IF Katrina was responsible for the destruction of their homes.  Families are literally paralyzed to be able to rebuild their life because they don’t know how to navigate the legal or insurance system.  They live in limbo everyday, waiting for a miracle.  One woman we served is hoping that maybe she can get into her home by December.
  • While prayer has always been important, the team realized the power of prayer on the trip.  Prayer kept us safe, provided for our needs, kept us together, and paved the way for conversations with people in the community.  There were numerous times where things could have turned into a disaster, but the team relied on God through the power of prayer.
  • There is a tension that we frequently wrestle with between caring for ourselves, and caring for others.  The tension comes not from not wanting to serve others, but from the tunnel vision we have in being caught up in our own success and issues.  We heard students share how difficult it was for them to commit to the team, to be able to take time to get away from jobs, sport camps, other commitments, and then watched them quickly engage in serving others.  It’s not that people don’t care, it’s people need to know that if they step out of the their “world” to serve the poor, they will find greater reward, and their world will still be there when they come back.
  • I have the privilege of serving with some of the most dedicated and talented leaders that any pastor could ask for.  While it may seem like a team of 60 people is total chaos, the reality is the team was led with ease, because our leaders owned the trip, and gave 110% effort all week.  Thanks to Leah, Andrew, Isaac, Marc, Glen, Deb, Chris, Melissa, Nate, Polly, Laura and Tim for their care and service to help students become more like Christ.

Here are some pics from the trip: