Well, we finally finished up our mission trip to Waveland, MS with Pathfinder Mission. It was an incredible experience. God was so faithful to connect us with people who needed encouragement and who needed to hear the gospel. We threw a big party yesterday for the 4th of July. It was huge success! We had well over a hundred people from the community join us and we all sat around and ate BBQ chicken that was given to us piping hot off the grill (thanks Bay Vista Baptist Church!), shrimp, hot dogs, and other sides. Kids came and played basketball and other games at the adjacent park. We heard and told stories, laughed, prayed, and enjoyed God's gift of life. It was really important for Pathfinder to connect with the community this way, and also to provide a sense of place and normalcy for people. They team was great, we all worked together well, and I can truly say that God blessed us enormously.
A really great thing is how we (Pathfinder is a ministry of our church, Gateway Baptist, in partnership with other churches) are truly becoming a part of the community down there. We have an official shrimp boiler now, Mr. Charles. He brought his boiler and also found shrimp for us straight off the boat down by the docks for $2 a pound! What a deal. We connected with him on Saturday and he said that he would love to come and boil shrimp for us anytime. We're going to take him up on it! He did a great job!
We also now have an official camp photographer! His name is Lionel and he does really great photography of the area. I spoke to him for sometime. I told him that he was now the official Pathfinder Mission photographer. Whenever we have special events, we're going to call him and have him take pictures. He readily agreed and said he would come by anytime. He's a really nice man. You can see his photos here: http://pbase.com/nomofilm1. Especially check out the Katrina before and after pictures here: Katrina Before & After. I'm going to be posting some of his pictures soon to give a good idea of what truly happened down here.
We reconnected with so many people yesterday that we had visited with during the weekend. It was so wonderful to sit with people for an hour or so on their porch on Saturday, and have them come back to Pathfinder on Tuesday and hang out with us some more. It really showed me their deep need and appreciation for community and relationships. Just about every person I had a significant conversation with came to the party on Tuesday and just hung out. These are just regular folks. Some of them lived in really big beautiful homes. Others, lived in trailers or small old houses. They're all in the same boat now. Each one is waiting for a group of volunteers to come and help them put their lives back together. It is too big a job for them to do by themselves. Many of them are older, or they have been wiped out. When people question why they just don't leave, the answer is that they have no where to go. They would be in the same boat anywhere else, without a home and without resources. Plus, this is home. Unlike much of America, people have real community down here and are tied to the land for generations. It's very difficult to just leave that.
An example, is Scott in the adjacent picture. I talked with him on Sunday for quite some time. He gave his heart to the Lord right after the storm, but is in desperate need of a community of believers to connect with. We are going to try and provide that for him through Pathfinder. Next to him is Kathleen, one of the permanent volunteer staff at Pathfinder. She is doing incredible work in the community as are all the other staff. God is working in powerful ways to bring resources to the point of need and to help lift people up. We just need more teams to come.
People are very open and are willing to talk about spiritual things. But, I learned something very important. Often when you go on a mission trip and God does great things, you think that you wish you could stay in that area where people are responsive to the gospel. But, the reality is that people are responsive to the gospel everywhere. You only notice it more because you are praying for the power of the Holy Spirit, are totally dependent on God, and are focused on the singular task of ministering Christ to people through all kinds of ways, even through parties, chicken, and boiled shrimp! God is the one who opens people's hearts. People are no more responsive in Waveland, Montgomery, or China. It is all the work of the Holy Spirit, and until we realize that, start depending on Him, and start acting in faith, we are going to see the same results we have been getting. The gospel must be preached in power. It was in Waveland, MS this week. God drew people to Himself and was glorified. May it be so in our hometowns as well.
Please pray about coming down to Waveland, MS with Pathfinder Mission. We are at the point that we have built up a need meeting ministry, but we desperately need teams to come and minister, share Christ, and try and connect all of these folks with spiritual hunger into a community of faith. If you have a group from your church that would be interested in coming down to share Christ with people that we have met through follow up, I would be so grateful. Our staff at Pathfinder is small and most volunteers who come are focused on the construction end of things. We need some evangelists. The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. If you want to send a team down, let me know and I'll set the whole thing up for you. What an incredible training time for folks in your church as well! Please pray about it!