Publication: One-to-One, Autumn 2005
The Gulf coast is my home. Its sparkling briny seas and brackish bayous and crystal streams mingle and flow through my veins; my skin is freckled with its sunshine; my ears echo with the laughter and songs and, lately, the cries of its people. So much of our family history is here…and now a new mission beckons to us.
As the winds and waves of Hurricane Katrina were dying down here in the Mobile Bay region, our thoughts and prayers turned towards our coastal neighbors a few miles to the west in Mississippi and Louisiana.
The day after the storm, even as waters receded along the shattered Alabama and Mississippi coasts, two key levees protecting the low-lying city of New Orleans broke, precipitating an unprecedented flood disaster for “The Big Easy.” In the ensuing days, a tremendous wave of human suffering poured across and then out of the city, as evacuees fled across the United States like ever-widening ripples in a pond.
Hard on the heels of Katrina came the harsh Hurricane Rita, which ripped into Louisiana and Texas.
As we prayed and worked to alleviate the suffering and to bring emergency supplies to affected areas, the Lord spoke this word to me: “Here comes the harvest.” I was reminded of this powerful passage from Matthew chapter 9:
“Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, ‘The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest’” (Matthew 9:35-38).
Even as some American citizens were paralyzed with fear or indecision, many Christians heard the call of the Holy Spirit and moved by the compassion of Christ to minister to those who were “weary and scattered.” The outreach effort will be ongoing for months, if not years, to come.
I appreciated the report of one Mississippi pastor, Horace Vinson, who was receiving and distributing aid, even as his own building was damaged. Watching Christians from other areas unloading donated supplies at his facility, he said, “I am really seeing the Church be the Church.” Government and social officials acknowledged that even as other agencies failed in their early response to the storm, it was the followers of Jesus Christ who leapt into action, stood in the gap, gave generously of their time, money, and energy, opened their homes and hearts, and poured out their love, making a vital difference in untold numbers of lives.
It is for times such as these that we have been born. Let us pray to the Lord of the harvest, that He would continue to anoint and send laborers into His harvest field. This is not the time to sit on the sideline and point fingers. I believe that out of great tragedy and sorrow, we will see thousands of precious hearts and lives saved by the power and love of Jesus Christ.
CSM has already distributed tens of thousands of dollars to affected churches along the Gulf Coast, as well as helping to network resources with needs. Please continue to stand with us. We not only ask for donations for hurricane relief, but we need special offerings for CSM’s ongoing work in ministry and publishing. We have taken a significant hit in our regular income, and we cannot continue in our mission without fresh funds (see www.csmpublishing.org for more details or send gifts to P.O. Box 850067, Mobile, AL 36685.)
Please keep us in your prayers and in your giving during these days. God spared our facilities and He has given us a job to do. By His grace, we will be faithful to carry it out and see His Resurrection life poured out along the Coast and among the nations.
Scripture Reference: Matthew 9:35-38
STEPHEN SIMPSON is the Editor of One-to-One Magazine and the Director of CSM Publishing. In addition to publishing ministry, Stephen has served in leadership for churches and ministries in Costa Rica, Florida, Mississippi, Texas, and Michigan, as well as being the Senior Pastor of Covenant Church of Mobile (2004-2013). He continues to travel in ministry across North America and in other nations.