Like many houses and camps near the gulf, Vic’s house sat atop 14 foot stilts. About a half mile from the beach, in the picture, Lynn, Vic, and I stand where wide wooden steps used to lead up to his front porch. A balcony walked all the way around both sides to a back porch. Vic has not cleared his property. Katrina left nothing to clear. The water didn’t simply push the house from its perch. It completely washed it away. We looked for miles for the remains of his house and found nothing but a few miscellaneous items. If you did not know a house stood there, nothing but the concrete drive way and wooden pillars suggest it. Vic, his wife Tammy, and Lynn live in tents while they await their long promised FEMA camper and make plans on where to go from here.
For the first five weeks after the storm Lakeshore Baptist Church held Sunday worship services on the rough cement slab where our church building used to sit. We enjoyed the shade of a blue tarp for three of those weeks as we sought encouragement and strength from the preached Word. Habakkuk 3:1-19, Luke 7:11-17, 2 Corinthians 1:3-11, and Psalm 57 gave us hope in our sovereign God who never fails.
We have now erected a couple of 24X50 air-conditioned quonset huts. One serves our food and clothes distribution and the other as a multipurpose structure. We packed about 80 people into it for this past Sunday’s worship service. I preached Psalm 40:1-3. During the week, rotating volunteer teams will use the building as a make-shift dormitory.
First Baptist Church of Clinton LA and Emmanuel Baptist Church of Boca Raton FL have partnered together to provide a temporary building while we construct our permanent facilities. Lord willing, they will put up a 36X90 metal building on our church property in the next 4-6 weeks.
FBC Gaffney SC has offered to head up the planning and construction of our permanent facilities. Before the storm we had been looking to build a 3,500 sq ft. fellowship hall and educational space to replace our cramped buildings. My sister, an interior designer is using those sketches to layout a floor plan for the all new structure which will put the sanctuary, fellowship hall, Sunday School classes, nursery, bathrooms, kitchen, and office all under one roof. If Mrs. Juanita is reading this from Virginia – yes, we plan to include plenty of closet and storage space.
God has reinforced to us that the church doesn’t need buildings to fulfill its purpose of magnifying and marveling at His magnificence and glory. At the same time He has shown us that buildings do sure serve as handy tools in the fulfillment of our chief end. As we move from a shadeless piece of concrete, to a blue tarp, to a quonset hut, to a metal building, to a fully equipped beautiful new facility, we pray that we will continue to “rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.” (2 Corinthians 1:8-9)
Lakeshore Baptist Church began in 1911 in the home of R. C. Crysell. Shortly after erecting a church building a hurricane pounded our community leaving the structure in ruins. Ninety years later we find ourselves in a similar situation. Like then, the generosity of fellow believers came to our assistance to rebuild and move forward to the glory of God. The following article appeared in the Alabama Baptist paper in November of 1915.
Church Destroyed By Storm
November 4, 1915
Many will regret to hear that our mission church at Lakeshore was destroyed by the recent storm upon the coast. Its history reads like a novel. It was organized by only a few members, under the leadership of Rev. Buchanan, who, no doubt, was killed, as he mysteriously disappeared. They were greatly opposed and persecuted by the Roman Catholics.
After Mr. Buchanan’s death, the little band was like sheep without a shepherd until Brother McCardle and another minister started the work again and succeeded in securing several members among whom was a Roman Catholic who was baptized, regardless of the many threats made. Then again for several months they had no pastor, yet kept busy erecting them a house of worship. Our State Board came to their rescue by sending the writer to them as pastor and assisting them some upon their house of worship. We found only thirteen members, many of whom were children waiting our arrival. God alone knows our struggles yet within six months after arriving, our number had grown above thirty members, several being heads of Roman Catholic families. Owing to the combined opposition of the Roman Catholic priests and a Methodist minister who was recently killed by a train enroute there, the work has had but little growth since, save they have been holding the fort for God’s glory. Brother and Sister R. C. Crysell, who have done so much for the church, paid the balance of debt upon the building just before the storm. This they did by great sacrifice. Some of God’s most faithful on earth are among its members. Many of these have come into the Baptist church under great persecution. They occupy one of the greatest missionary fields on earth, being the only Baptist church on the L. & N. railroad east of New Orleans, for a distance of fifty miles, surrounded by Catholicism and the godless atmosphere of the coast. No place is in greater need, yet today their building lies flat upon the ground with their organ and seats broken, yet criticized no doubt by their godless and merciless persecutors.
Shall the Baptists of Mississippi see the good work they have so gloriously begun now stop and progress be hindered forever, or will they go at once to their rescue? No doubt God put it into the heart of our editor to make that noble appeal for Roman Catholic territory which he made just before the storm. Here is your opportunity! The land is before you. Will you possess it? To delay is half to fall! Although we are in another state, we desire to join God’s faithful in Mississippi who are upon the firing line to send a prayer meeting or Sunday School offering to those dear saints who are in so great need. However small the offering from each may be, if given by each church, we all shall share the victory even from the jaws of defeat.
Brother pastors and superintendents, our people will gladly respond if given an opportunity. Will we do it for Jesus’ sake? God grant we shall! God bless you!
Yours in Christ,
Carl M. O’Neal
Like then, we plan to rebuild and continue ministering and proclaiming the glorious gospel of God’s sovereign grace to the residence of the Mississippi gulf coast. With your help we can erect new church facilities that will expand the good work God accomplishes through the church at Lakeshore to his glory. You can send contributions to our new building fund to:
Lakeshore Baptist Church
1451 Great Oak Drive
Baton Rouge, LA 70810
If you followed my blog before the storm, you might recall a couple of controversial entries concerning “Johnny Hunt on Election” and a follow up entitled “Johnny Hunt, Election, and Mathew 18.” Through those discussions I met Nathan White, a member of Grace Bible Church near Atlanta. When his pastor, Dave Stephenson, expressed an interest in their church helping a sister church hit hard by Katrina, Nathan pointed them to us.
Wasting no time, the church loaded a truck with much needed supplies and sent Greg London to Lakeshore. Greg has become my right hand in the recovery efforts. He has already made three trips and plans to be here again tomorrow morning with another team from Grace Bible Church.
Nathan and Pastor Dave came down last week. Nathan posted to his blog before coming down and then again after his Trip to Lakeshore. His buddy Colin accompanied the team and you can also read Colin’s account. They have several pictures, so check out their sites.
Help has flooded in from all directions. Last week we had two church teams from Georgia, one from Texas, and another from Kansas. Later I will try to post in greater detail about these wonderful folks. This morning I’d like to mention one of our earliest contacts after the storm. Dan Hodges, former Director of Missions of the Washington Baptist Association of GA and current interim pastor of the Sisters Baptist Church of Sandersville GA traveled down to offer assistance. Hodges stressed to me the fact that he is not retired, just retreaded.
btw, Bro. Hodges found us via my long time online friend Richard Dickson, who serves as Interim Associate Pastor for Sisters Baptist Church. I know Richard through the SBC-D discussion group.
Sisters Baptist Church,
Hurricane Katrina hit Lakeshore Baptist Church hard. She took our church buildings and almost all of our church member’s homes. Even with such a devastating blow, we know that Christ proves himself stronger than any storm. The body of Christ has come to our aid in overwhelming ways. We especially thank God for the Sisters Baptist Church. Your financial assistance lightened our financial burden and enabled us to continue ministering in the greatest time of need. We praise God for Dan Hodges, Grady, and George who made the long trip down to meet us face to face and provide physical help even before most of our church family were able to return to the area. We believe your timely response and gifts magnified the Lord our Provider. Lakeshore Baptist Church extends our gratitude and thanks. Please remember us in prayer as we move forward to the glory of God.
Pastor Don A. Elbourne Jr.
Lakeshore Baptist Church
My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly trust in Jesus’ Name.
When darkness seems to hide His face,
I rest on His unchanging grace.
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.
His oath, His covenant, His blood,
Support me in the whelming flood.
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my Hope and Stay.
When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh may I then in Him be found.
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.
On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand;
All other ground is sinking sand.
by Edward Mote, circa 1834