This Sunday will mark the 5th anniversary of the landfall of hurricane Katrina on the Gulf Coast region. Not only did the rains and floods wreak havoc on the communities affected, but once the levee system dissolved, all hell literally broke through. Over a thousand people perished, millions had to begin an exodus to drier ground and 80% of a great American city was drowned. This type of devastation is overwhelming, but faith communities and (to some degree) governmental agencies provided relief to this area and its people and along the way, we were all changed.
Many people have heard of an effort In New Orleans that is often referred to as the Brad Pitt Houses. This organization is actually called "Make It Right," a community-driven non-profit that seeks innovative, eco-friendly and hurricane/flooding-resistant houses for an entire neighborhood with the original neighbors included on the planning, developing and financing the project. While the organization is far from perfect, it has assisted one of the most historically-impoverished neighborhoods bloom with color and people. In the book of Isaiah, there are some verses from an author who was in the midst of the rebuilding of Jerusalem after the Babylonian captivity of Israel in the 6th century BCE. We have these words passed down to us:
Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin? Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry for help and he will say, Here I am. The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your needs in parched places, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water whose waters never fail. Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to live in.-Isaiah 58.6-7, 9, 11 and 12
Because there are still breaches to be filled, streets to be restored, oppressed people to be listened to, people cut off from their kin that need a sense of family and an ocean dangerously choking with oil, a group of us at Country Club choose to engage in a fast that God desires. We are doing this fast in two ways. First, a group of us are giving up a week of our lives to go down to New Orleans on October24-30 to listen to people seeking justice and we will attempt to be a helpful presence by acting on those conversations as well as helping to build houses in communities still needing to be rebuilt. The other way we are fasting is that another group (although many people overlap in these groups) will be giving up their Tuesday nights this fall to learn about what it means to respond to the needs of the world in a Christian manner in a group called "God and Neighbor." This group will spend the weeks leading up to the October mission trip conversing, studying, praying and having fun learning about New Orleans, it's culture and how we are connected to our brothers and sisters of the Big Easy. We would still welcome anyone who is interested in fasting with us to join however you would like. So, please, email me at
if you would like to join in. If not, please pray for our experiences to be enriched with God's grace and please pray for the people of the Gulf Coast that they may be strengthened by the words of Isaiah and to know that God still seeks wholeness and repaired breaches in our lives and in our world.