News from the Tennessee Valley Religion

Rev. Eddie Scheler

Life after Katrina: Pastor travels to New Orleans neighborhoods

Devastated, horrible, tragic, unbelievable, preventable, sad, vast, broken, depressing, empty, vacant, frightening, destroyed, despairing and depressed.

These are a few of the words a mission team I was involved with used to describe the landscape and the people who make up St. Bernard Parish and the Lower 9th Ward in New Orleans as they try to escape the clutches of Hurricane Katrina.

It has been a year and half since the monstrous hurricane swept across Lake Pontchartrain and overpowered the levees. And a year and a half later, as our group of 14 from St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Decatur and Christ Our Redeemer Lutheran Church of Hartselle found out last weekend, this area no longer makes headlines but is still in desperate, desperate need.

For half of our team, the entire weekend was spent trying to restore Liz's trailer house in the mostly overlooked St. Bernard Parish.

There are so many Lizes out there that in the middle of the vast destruction. I never felt so much like the "starfisher thrower."

He is the man who would walk the beach in the morning and throw as many of the starfish as possible back into the water before the heat of the sun killed them. One day someone questioned why he would take the time to do that because there were hundreds of starfish on the beach and his feeble efforts could not possibly be making that much difference to the starfish population.

As he threw another starfish into the ocean, he answered, "It makes a difference to this one."

Having just returned, I am still processing in my own heart and mind the devastation and any difference we made. So I guess my point is simply this:

From the time Katrina became a household word in our lives, there is one organization that has quietly made a huge difference. There is one organization that has rolled up its sleeves and at its own personal cost been at the forefront of restoration to this devastated area. It's the organization many have given their lives for because the Savior gave his life for us, the Body of Christ.

Whatever the denomination, we have seen the church be the hands of Christ at work sacrificially in this tragedy. So please pray for Liz and the people of New Orleans. Please be a part of the recovery effort at your church or find a church that is engaged in the recovery process. In all things remember, "It makes a difference to this one."

For anyone interested, we worked out of Camp Restore. It is a camp built on the promise of God in Isaiah 30:17, " 'I will restore you to health and heal your wounds,' declares the Lord."

The Rev. Eddie Scheler, pastor of St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Decatur, is one of several local ministers writing religion columns for The Daily. For more information, call Melanie Smith at 340-2468.

Rev. Eddie Scheler Rev. Eddie Scheler

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