Katrinacus Rex

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Sovereign Grace Homeland Missions

First and foremost we want to give full honor and praise and glory to our Father in heaven from whom all blessings flow. The incredible outpouring of charity to our home of faith at Sovereign Grace Fellowship has been overwhelming. Thank you to all of you who have given us your prayers, resources, labors, and financial support.

Many of you have expressed an interest in sending work crews to come down here to the greater New Orleans area and help families recover. Here is our game plan.

There are many churches that have set up ‘tent cities’ where you can find clothes, food, and other aid. The problem is that some of these areas are in shambles because the items have been left out in the open for weeks now and some have been rained on and the clothes items are strewn over many boxes and the ground.

We have received a semi-trailer full of supplies (clothes, food, toiletries, etc.) and are going to be taking a different approach. After touring some of the areas it has come to our attention that many of those in need will never come to us. They are living in their driveways working on their homes, visiting their residence when they can to see what they can do and are not necessarily going to find us. As a result, we are going to go to them.

We are implementing several levels of service and ministry:

Notifying the Community – Biblical Counseling

We will be handing out information flyers to the area letting our community know what it is that we have to offer as well as seeking to establish a biblical counseling hotline. As the weeks progress and displaced residents face more challenges depression and despair will increase.

Deliveries and Appointment Aid

We will assess clothing and aid needs and make deliveries to the residents or set up appointments for them to visit the church to find what they need. Assistants will be needed for those tasks.

Mobile Evangelism

We will be taking bibles, booklets, tracts, and other resources to the neighborhoods and shelter areas in the community. Meeting the people as they are living in the subdivisions to pray with them, weep with them, rejoice with them, and to proclaim the gospel to them is a priority.

Physical Laboring – Flood Homes

There are many flooded homes that need to be gutted ASAP– contents removed, carpets pulled out, sheetrock removed, etc. Afterwards the floors need to be stripped and removed and the framing studs and inside pressure washed.

Tree Work – Wind Damage Recovery

Experienced chain saw workers and tree removal personnel are needed to help with properties filled with twisted and downed trees.

Heavy Equipment – Machinery and Operators

If anyone has access to heave equipment used to remove debris and trees such as backhoes, mini-dozers, and commercial grinders please contact us.

We have room for up to 20 workers at a time between three homes and our church building. Email us at elders@sgfellowship.org for details on bedding, tools, and times.

We will accept all help offered and coordinate your efforts to match the need.

This is a very unique opportunity for all of us to work together under the banner of Christ ministering to the entire person in a needy region. Some send, some go. We hope to see you soon.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Double Teaming in Relief Land

This week we were visited by two tremendous teams of men. Headed by their pastor Justin Erickson our first arrivals were from Grace Chapel located in West Liberty, Ohio. They brought in a tractor trailer load full of supplies, clothes, and food to aid us in our relief efforts. It took about seven of us seven hours in the intense southern heat to unload the benevolent cargo. Pray along with us that we can put these goods in the hands of those who need it most. It is a beautiful event to watch Providence move in our lives as new family members in the Body are sent our way in what we hope will become lifelong friendships. To all the people in Ohio who supported this effort, thank you. We look forward to the many evangelistic mission trips we can co-sponsor in the near future.

The next set of relief workers arrived yesterday from Grace Community Church in Michigan pastored by Steve Krogh. At mid-afternoon I was greeted by ten men with tools, expertise, and great hearts. They came to help us clean out and gut some homes as well as put a new roof on our church. We are almost done with that and are trying to beat Rita's threat in the early a.m. as reports say that she will hit somewhere West of us. All of Grace Community's men have been wonderful and we look forward to working more together to help our church and community recover before either Rita forces them home or their stay has expired. We will be organizing more work crews to help clear out yards and properties. It is very late and I've got to be up in a few hours so that's it for now. I will talk later about our neighborhood van project whereby we hit the communities here literally street by street meeting needs and bearing witness to the wonderful gospel of Christ.
Stay tuned.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Juanita Community Church Ambassador of Good Will Visits Us

Pastor Steve Harris from Juanita Community Church near Seattle has been here for the past few days. He has had extensive experience in the building trades and is helping us assess damage and to map out a plan for recovery. The wind damage is not as bad as he feared, but the flood damage is worse than he anticipated.

Our church building needs to be re-roofed but is otherwise usable. However, some 4-5 homes are in question. They had 4-6 feet of flood water in them and their interiors are thickly coated in marsh mud. The smell is enough to make some people become ill when they enter. We ask for wisdom in coordinating professionals with volunteers to get the work done efficiently.

Our needs list will be posted soon.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Mini-Update from the Land of Debris and Recovery

First and foremost I want to proclaim along with the psalmist the goodness and majesty of the Lord as ...

"His name shall endure forever; His name shall continue as long as the sun. And men shall be blessed in Him; All nations shall call Him blessed. 18 Blessed be the LORD God, the God of Israel, Who only does wondrous things! 19 And blessed be His glorious name forever! And let the whole earth be filled with His glory. Amen and Amen." - Psalm 72:17-19

We have been on sensory overload for the past few weeks battling everything from rumor mongering and fatigue to dehydration and mosquitoes. I've not seen a TV for about a week now and have only heard the radio sporadically. We've been taking care of critical cleaning/tree damage work and we are about done with that first stage. Tomorrow I will tour the city and speak with civil and church leaders in the area to see how things stand community wise. From there Charles and I will put together a next step congregational and community short term plan.

For all of you who want to help and who have either called, phoned, or e-mailed us; thank you for your patience and prayers. We promise to get back to each and every one of you. Our guiding mindset is to first be good stewards of what the Lord is providing to us through you and secondly to have a precise plan that efficiently and effectively uses those resources.

More tomorrow on specific needs and other important things.

May the love of Christ shine brightly during this time of trial and unprecedented ministry/gospel expansion.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Slidell / Pearl River Katrina Update

There is still a curfew here but the time has moved to 11 p.m. rather than the previous week where is was 9 p.m. Old town Slidell looks like everyone decided to have a garage sale at once on the sidewalks and streets but nothing is really worth buying. The stench of sunbaked refuse lingers in the streets. National Guardsmen are seen all around the city as well as utility vehicles that zoom and scurry about as they attempt to rewire the grids.
It was eerie going to my all-electric neighborhood for some towels out of my home and hearing the generator motor sounds vibrating in the air. Here are some more highlights -
  • A few fast food places are open albeit in reduced hours.
  • The grocery stores are still a bit bare. Supply lines have been cut since most came from New Orleans.
  • Could use another chain saw and fresh blades. Few remain around here.
  • Time spent cutting trees and setting game plan.
  • Dennis' brother's house has a foul smelling, black river mud all over the floors. Amazing.
  • At every turn you notice that there's something you wish you had including better fitting clothes as the sweat turns your garment into a blister creator.
  • Cell phone reception is very patchy at best.
  • Church telephone works well and has answering machine - (985) 643-8215.
  • Electricity and water are up at church building so it becomes the command central.
  • We took "Arkansas" baths in the sink.
  • Baby powder is from heaven.
  • Five of us sleeping in the worship area and children's teaching room, never thought I'd see that.
  • Displaced family's remnant belongings are scattered in the sunday school room for storage.

  • Black mother and two children show up in parking lot misdirected from a shelter so we drive them to where they need to go and help them with modest finances.
  • Tomorrow we continue to clean up and meet up with two families who see insurance adjusters to determine whether their homes are worth rebuilding.

Sunday, September 11, 2005


Today is the anniversary of the tragic 9-11 Islamic kamikaze assault on this nation whereby thousands were killed in an urban inferno; catapulting New York into the world’s spotlight. A few weeks ago Katrina’s deadly turbine winds shattered Louisiana, Mississippi and parts of Alabama as hundreds lost their lives and thousands were completely displaced amidst her fury.

During these grieving times the world will ask Christian leaders to make sense out of the aftermath asking questions that everyone wants answered: Why did this happen? What does it mean? What are we to think about this? And where was God?

As a result of teaching a singularity in theological attributes that only focuses on the love of God, the church, for the most part, is left with vague and mysterious proclamations about the ‘unknown will of God’ replying to these questions with the ‘He has a purpose in all of this’ and other such simplistic and incomplete commentaries. The problem with these cliché responses is that they are not fully orbed; they do not take into account what the Scriptures have said. They leave out important truths, namely that God is not only a loving Father, but He is also a consuming fire (Deut. 4:24) who is angry at the wicked and who will judge every man according to His deeds.

God is a just judge and God is angry with the wicked every day. Psalm 7:11

So who are the wicked? The wicked are all of those who sin; those who transgress the Law of God. Here is a partial list of wicked activities: a proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart the devises ungodly plans, gossiping, backbiting, jealousy, envy, losing your temper, conceit, fornication, lewdness, idolatry and causing strife. (Proverbs 6:16-19; 2Corinthians 12:20-21) It should then be no surprise for us to read Paul’s comments in the book of Romans as he references Psalm 14 where we read:

"As it is written: "There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one." "Their throat is an open tomb; With their tongues they have practiced deceit"; "The poison of asps is under their lips"; "Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness." "Their feet are swift to shed blood; destruction and misery are in their ways; and the way of peace they have not known." "There is no fear of God before their eyes." Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God." Romans 3:10-19

So if all men are guilty before God because of their anti-god behavior then upon what basis does one stand against the One who made them? How does the created man who is in rebellion against the Creator look to Him in anger when He has exercised right judgment against those who have violated His perfect Law? Has the criminal now become the judge of his violation?

While the wrath of God in the end of all things awaits, we see His sending and allowance of destruction against mankind as Amos wrote, If a trumpet is blown in a city will not the people tremble? If a calamity occurs in a city has not the LORD done it?” Amos 3:6

When we see these tragic events in our history we should see a small picture of what God will reveal fully in the end; however, this revelation of wrath does not come alone. There is also the incredible revelation of Jesus Christ. We can never be ‘good enough’ on our own. Hear the apostle’s words about salvation:

"Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness, just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works: "Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, And whose sins are covered; Blessed is the man to whom the LORD shall not impute sin." Romans 4:4-8

We will each see our end either soon or later. Where will you stand before the Lord God Almighty at His judgment throne? I know where I stood, guilty. Yet, Christ lived the perfect life as the Son of God and was crucified at Calvary for the sins of the world as Jesus bore the punishment in his flesh for those who would believe. He rose from the dead proving to the world that He was the messiah who alone can save man from His eternal condemnation. If today you hear His voice calling you to repentance from your sin, flee to the One whose grace and mercy is infinite! Believe on the name of the Lord.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Beginning the Restoration

My brother and I will be going to Slidell, LA on Monday and staying there till Thursday. We will be teaming up with a few congregation members and Dennis Gundersen's team from Grace Bible Church in Tulsa, OK to help cut down trees, clean up debris, administer aid, and deal with six flooded homes. We will have to be using mold masks at times in the homes and my brother and I have gotten tetanus shots given the nature of the work.

Please continue to pray for all of us during this long term trial. There are many opportunities to do God's work amidst the aftermath as people continue to assess and rebuild their lives. Remember what Ecclesiastes 7:1-2 says:
"A good name is better than precious ointment, And the day of death than the day of one's birth; Better to go to the house of mourning Than to go to the house of feasting, For that is the end of all men; And the living will take it to heart."
I pray that the living will take the truth to heart. This event shows us not just one aspect of the Lord's character but all of who He is: His divine authoring of all events (Amos 3:6; Job 36:22-33), His mercy and love (Galatians 6:10; Romans 9:15-16), and His wrath in judgment (Romans 1:18; Psalm 7:11-13).

If any of you would like to join us in Louisiana by praying with those who have been afflicted, coming alongside the sick, comforting the weak, visiting shelters, distributing solid Christ-centered literature, and other hands-on tasks of charity, simply email me and we will arrange it. It is my hope to speak with local officials and other churches in the area while I'm there to get a better understanding as to both the pace of recovery and specific need. Also, keep in mind that our brothers and sisters in Mississippi will need our help as well and we plan on heading there too.

Daniel 4:35 35 - All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; He does according to His will in the army of heaven And among the inhabitants of the earth. No one can restrain His hand Or say to Him, "What have You done?"

Proverbs 3:34 - Surely He scorns the scornful, But gives grace to the humble.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

SGF's Hymn Sing Prelude

As we deal with the repercussions of the hurricane I am reminded of what we sang in our service as a church body. Here are some of the lyrics to Samuel Rodigast's 1676 hymn "What'er My God Ordains Is Right". I've been humming this for a week.

Whate’er my God ordains is right:
His holy will abideth;
I will be still whate’er He doth;
And follow where He guideth;
He is my God; though dark my road,
He holds me that I shall not fall:
Wherefore to Him I leave it all.

Whate’er my God ordains is right:
He is my Friend and Father;
He suffers naught to do me harm,
Though many storms may gather,
Now I may know both joy and woe,
Some day I shall see clearly
That He hath loved me dearly.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Uncertainty Amidst Trials and Joy

We continue to receive donations and gifts and manual labor offers while we have only just now found out about the condition of our church members and neighbors. Assessing the immediate needs is not as easy as it seems. Many folks are two, three, and five hours away from their homes and would have to spend $60 to $100 in gasoline expense just to make one trip to their neighborhoods. For those who have flooded there isn't anything to go back to even if they do get power and water back. And keep in mind that this does not address the infrastructure challenges that exist. What stores are open? If they are open, will they have enough supplies? Determining how the city is going to function and when it will function and how you and your family will function within that unknown is not easily ascertained.

My heart both sings with joy at the graciousness of His people and yet it weeps at the same time. To witness both the joy of the Lord and the wrath of destruction simultaneously within one concentrated region is simply amazing.

What will be extremely important during this time is what people will do a month, two months, and six months down the road. Don't forget long term support.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Many of you have sent the church or I emails asking us how you can help.

The response that you have shown has been tremendous. We appreciate your prayers and help and thank God for your generosity, love, and faithfulness.

Our biggest need will be financially as many of us won’t have any income for quite some time. Food and gas are the biggest expenses as many have now found housing and refuge with family, friends, or good neighbors for extended stays.

As we develop a list of specific needs we will post them on our blogs so that you can know exactly where the needs are and how you can assist directly.

We pledge to you that we will be good stewards of your resources therefore whatever you give will go straight to local needs.

Join us in praying that His grace will be seen through our efforts and that all will see the glory of His grace found in Christ.

Recon Report

Our recon to the Northshore went well. We
left at 6:30 a.m. and headed down east on Hwy 84 to Summit and then southbound on I-55 where we connected eastbound at I-12. We had no trouble getting into the Mandeville/Covington, Slidell, and Pearl River areas. Many electricity company bucket trucks were rolling down the roads in military fashion and the parking lots of Home Depot / Lowe’s were filled with flatbeds, pickups, and citizens looking for
materials to begin the repairs needed to reoccupy their homes.

A few grocery stores were open on the outskirts of the towns like the Winn Dixie off of Hwy 59
in Mandeville and select convenience stores are available. The McDonald’s in Summit, MS packed out with people scurrying around like ants on a discarded crumb. While in was line I met a woman with a two year old boy who was weeping and attempting to cover up her emotion. After she sat down to eat I went over to her to see what the matter was. She had been separated from her husband during the exodus and just found out via a patchy cell connection that her seventy-five year old housekeeper in New Orleans had been found dead. Even in the midst of freedom and protection and grace in her escape came a bitter reminder of misery.

Electricity is on in particular areas, mostly around central business zones and interstate highways and none of it was on in the residential areas that we could see. The water was working in the Mandeville - Deerfield subdivision when we visited my wife’s uncle’s house. Overall, Deerfield was not devastated - several homes had severe tree damage while other dwellings were not touched. We arrived a day after many crews and residents had already cleared paths on previously impassable roads. Power lines hung like spaghetti strings on bent and cracked Popsicle sticks and the ground is lined with a mesh of twigs, leaves, and pine needles.

I received many emails and posts asking me about damage reports in certain subdivisions and areas. Let me make this statement in light of those requests:

A good or bad report about a particular area does not give you accurate information about your home. Damage in the area is extremely specific. One home will have a forty foot pine tree guillotine slicing it in two while a neighbor’s home has only debris in the yard.

Hence, the only way to truly know about your property is to actually see it firsthand.

Our biggest challenge was gasoline since not only have the costs risen to $3 per gallon but finding gas is very difficult and when you do you find a place to refuel, you just might end up running on empty and patience as you sit in a very long hour plus wait. With this in mind we planned our trip so that we could make it in and back on one tank. As a result we were not able to see all that we wanted to visit.

Next on our excursion was Slidell. One thing we became immediately aware of was that although the destruction, flooding, and damage were real; many things were inaccurately reported. For example, Outback Steakhouse showed no signs of a fire, the Bowling USA building on Robert Road was not in two pieces, and RaceTrac on Gause is severely damaged but not leveled. That being said, the town did get hit hard. What the news reports don’t tell you is that these towns and cities are not cookie cut. One part of the same subdivision may flood while the other side does not. One section of a town may be underwater while a few miles away they are dry, but have severe wind damage. As mentioned earlier the destruction is extremely specific.

On I-12 are digital signs notifying you that I-10 East to New Orleans is closed off and within Slidell at the old Wal-mart parking lot is the Army National Guard overseeing the dispensing of MREs, water, and ice. Big signs were scattered in ditches and many buildings had pieces hanging off of them. We went to our church building and found our sign snapped in half, the roof damaged, both of our trees uprooted, the fence surrounding the property knocked down and minor flooding in the foyer of the building. Considering the wind and water beast that rolled over town we fared well.

My brother’s home was built on stilts and is located near the Pearl River around Davis Landing and had three feet of flood water running under it. Trees and massive limbs just missed the house with only one large pine tree crushing his front fence and blocking the entry to his driveway.

In Magnolia Forest we found my house with a hardwood tree resting on the roof over my bedroom and what looked like a Tasmanian loblolly pine explosion. Across from the subdivision along Military was a tornado wind path where about one hundred pine trees had their tops snapped off as they laid mostly still attached in isosceles angles. Several of the homes had been sledge hammered including my shed in the backyard. It was smashed by a severed pine. My one hundred and twenty foot concrete driveway was invisible underneath a jungle of tree and limb parts. The Honda Civic I left parked parallel to my garage door was in good shape. I covered it with a tarp and secured the covering with full cords and tie downs but the wind simply peeled that vain attempt back exposing the car to intense wind and rain. We went inside to inspect, cleaning out the freezer and refrigerator of quickly rotting foods and there doesn’t seem to be any water damage inside.

It will take weeks to clean, clear, and begin to get things back to order. All around this area are people in need of one thing or another and it is our goal to help them all as much as possible. Sovereign Grace is assembling all of the offers of help that have been coming in as many wish to support local church efforts instead of the more broad and generic Red Cross/Unity Way-type of support believing that the resources they provide will be directly administered to the community in a more timely and efficient manner.

We will see to it that we faithfully dispense what is given to us to those who need it, ministering to the community as the needs are made known to us. We are still diligently attempting to locate our congregants and assess their specific needs as communications are still sketchy and unreliable. Our phone number here in Natchez at the Louisiana Katrina Refugee Camp is (601) 442 – 8764.

Continue to pray for us as stress levels are high and everyone is on edge. Today my parents and sister and brother in law are supposed to join our living quarters bringing us up to nine adults and seven children.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Washington St. - Natchez - Lousiana Refugee Camp

We spoke with a man today who said that we can get to our homes to assess the damage firsthand since none of the news reports are showing or telling what we need to know.

My wife's uncle, my brother, and myself will be going down to Mandeville, Slidell, Pearl River, and Lacombe to check on ours and others homes as well as our church building.

We will give you a report of what we find when we can. Keep praying for us and all the others.

The grace and love shown to us by all of you is overwhelming.

There have been looters and misfits running amuk in the land so pray for safety. Taurus, Smith, and Wesson will be handling our security.

Katrina Evacuation

We fled from Katrina’s wrath Sunday morning with my four girls, my brother and his family of three more children, and our friend Laura. None of us had a clue as to what was in store for us other than the prospect of another large storm heading our way.

We hit the back roads as the main arteries and interstate highways were in contra-flow emergency mode and we didn’t want to get stuck in the midst of a few thousand automobiles. Our destination was NNW as my wife’s uncle had made reservations for us for a few nights at the Ramada Inn Hilltop on the Mississippi River in Natchez Mississippi. What was normally a two to three hour trip took us nearly six and a half hours.

Staying in the hotels and on the road is very expensive particular when you are trying to feed five adults and seven children so as we heard more and more grim news in regards to the devastation in New Orleans and the Slidell area we knew that our stay was going to be much longer than we thought and with limited financial resources we simply prayed for provision, wisdom, and strength.

At about one o’clock on Tuesday of this week my wife’s uncle and his girlfriend were in a park near downtown Natchez and a woman approached them, asking questions about their cats who were both in kitty carriers. When they explained that they were fleeing the storm she asked about accommodations and soon offered them possible refuge.

I only know her as Jeanette and her husband is a retired dentist in Natchez and she was actively pursuing refugees in the city to see what she could do for them. We took her up on a her offer to go see a house and we were directed to Bob and Kathy Siezemore who have just moved up the street and have a vacant home available. What an incredible answer to prayer! The house is an old home in historic Natchez and has three bedrooms and is very spacious but has been closed up for a few months so needed to be cleaned.

We spent most of Wednesday moving boxes around and cleaning up clutter, dust, debris and readying the residence for occupation.

The children still think they are on a vacation even though the older girls know a bit more, but they don’t really understand. In fact, I don’t think us adults really understand that our entire lives have been put on hold, turn upside down, shaken sideways, and that perhaps our homes don’t exist. We have not gotten word on our specific area and home situation and are not allowed back in to the neighborhoods yet so we wait in hope and dread hearing more news on the television.

My brother rigged up an old TV with a coat hanger antenna so we can see some news and we still have no telephone either by land line or cell. I’m using my laptop right now to type this on the steps of a neighbor’s house borrowing some wifi bandwidth.

Our church is more than likely destroyed by both wind and water and we are in the process of still trying to locate all of our members to see what their needs are. You can view our church’s site at www.sgfellowship.org to read a blog that’s been setup there to serve as an update as well.

That’s all for now, I will try to update this blog as I can and let you know of our needs.

Alpha and Omega Ministries has set up a donation account for us here: www.aomin.org/index.php?itemid=625

Our biggest needs will be food and utilities. I am currently locating a refrigerator in the neighborhood for the twelve of us and the people here have been amazing; a true neighborhood of charity.

Our mailing address is : The Louisiana Katrina Refugee Camp 819 Washington St. Natchez, MS 39120

This has been an incredible time for us to see God answer prayer. Amidst the desolation, anger, hurt, death, destruction and chaos He never sleeps nor discontinues His graciousness.