Hurricane Katrina made landfall four years ago in August. I left New Orleans just a few days before landfall and within a few days following, the Lott Carey Baptist Foreign Mission Convention was communicating throughout our network to help move supplies to Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Our network was generous beyond belief.
Our primary focus, however, was not on the immediate relief efforts. We concentrated on “helping people rise again.” As a result of the Lott Carey family’s generosity, we collaborated in the region to provide pastoral care ministry, social service support, mental health counseling and child development programs in six cities in the region for a period of 16 months.
Our collaborations resulted in numerous opportunities to partner with other funding organizations. The impact has produced more than we can accurately quantify. A generous $1 million gift from the Fountain Baptist Church in Summit, N.J., enabled us to build on the previous work by nurturing families, churches and communities.
We have offered, and continue to offer, scholarships for adults for skills training and college degrees. We arranged 10 months of coaching for pastors in the region and gave nearly $400,000 in ministry grants. One project is the development of a 20-acre site that will serve as a Christian camp and operational command center for future hurricanes in Louisiana.
Our partners have launched more than 200 housing units and secured nearly 100 acres for new housing development. I was on the phone recently moving toward closure for a new skills training program that will equip unemployed and discouraged workers for high-paying construction jobs in the region.
We are also working on raising funds to offer scholarships to people for becoming certified nursing assistants, as there are many job opportunities in this healthcare profession in the region.
Some plant. Some water. God gives the increase.
Most people turned away from the Gulf Coast within weeks or months after the hurricane. Lott Carey has stayed the course. We continue to invest and collaborate to find new resources in “helping people rise again.”
David Emmanuel Goatley is executive secretary-treasurer of the Lott Carey Baptist Foreign Mission Convention.
David Emmanuel Goatley is Research Professor of Theology and Black Church Studies and Director of the Office of Black Church Studies at Duke Divinity School.