Jack Hunter on ‘Crossing Over’ After Katrina

FILE - This Aug, 31, 2005, file photo shows a man pushing his bicycle through flood waters near the Superdome in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina left much of the city under water. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)
FILE – This Aug, 31, 2005, file photo shows a man pushing his bicycle through flood waters near the Superdome in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina left much of the city under water. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

Jack Hunter is executive director of the New Orleans Baptist Association. Saturday (Aug. 29) is the 15th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

NEW ORLEANS (BP) — Disaster narrows focus and frames choice. When your neighbor is busted up and bleeding out, do you go to him or pass by? This was the question Katrina put to the churches here: Would we pass by on the clean, safe and orderly side of the road, or would we cross over and go to our neighbor in his gritty, messy, costly need? (Luke 10:30-33)

In the wake of Katrina, our larger Southern Baptist community crossed over. Its disaster relief response has been well documented. Southern Baptists get a well-deserved “A” in volunteerism and disaster relief. To our larger Baptist family, we remember your response and again say, “Thank you. Thank you for coming to us when our need seemed overwhelming.”

Our local Southern Baptist community crossed over, too. We did disaster relief day after day, week after week, year after year. There were days when we thought that the gutting out, crying, and rebuild would never end. At about year four, it began to slow down. A couple of years later, the rebuild was over. But there were still needs, deep needs.

We crossed over. Our local Southern Baptist community partnered with foundations and other non-profits, and built nearly 100 new homes in one of the communities hardest hit by Katrina.

We crossed over. Our local Southern Baptist community is now a leader in the recruitment, training, and support of Christian families fostering vulnerable, traumatized children. We now contract with the city and state to train juvenile justice system and children and family services personnel in trust-based relational interventions.

We crossed over. Our local Baptist community launched a community health clinic in the Lower 9th Ward when, almost a decade after Katrina, there were still no grocery stores, gas stations, schools, police or fire stations, or medical services. But there were people. Hurting, needy people who, despite their enormous loss, felt as if they had been abandoned.

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Source: Baptist Press