i received a ginger plant on behalf of the youth ministry today. let me tell you why.
hurricane ivan scared a bunch of people around here and started a MASS evacuation from new orleans, which is below sea level. tuesday afternoon, september 14th, i received a phone call from covenant house, a run-away teen shelter in new orleans, asking if they could stay with us. i told them that would be great but i would have to check with our pastor of administration first. turns out he had already told the red cross that we would gladly be a shelter for any needs that the red cross had – they put us as a secondary shelter asking that we stay open, ready, and available for them – most likely to be a meals location. this meant we had to be open for the red cross and i had to call the shelter back and tell them we couldn’t. turns out this wasn’t a problem because within the 10 minutes it took me to find out we couldn’t host them and then call them back they had already received a call from a camp in texas saying they could stay there. i was pretty disappointed. i really wanted to be a part of helping them.
wednesday morning, september 15th, i went to substitute teach in our church school. during the day jessica, my administrative assistant, came running into class with a smile on her face and said “they’re here!”
“the teens from the shelter … and the have babies!” she was extremely excited about the chance to help the teens and the chance to hold the babies.
it turns out that they had left new orleans soon after our conversation the previous day and it had taken them 13 hours to make the usual 1 hour trip from new orleans to baton rouge. they needed a break, saw the church, and thought “they’ll help”.
this was great. what was even better was that my leadership team, teens, and parents had already stepped into action. some of them had driven by at the right time, noticed the vans, and stopped to ask what was up. before i could ever get over to see out visitors (it took me about 30 minutes) our parents, kids, and leadership had already taken care of them. food was found. toiletries were brought. diapers were purchased. it was all done before i could even get over there. everyone encouraged them to stay and rest as long as they wanted to and every need was met. i was actually a little disappointed because all i actually got to do was go buy some water – every other need was met before i ever got there. these teens and their leader were refreshed and it wasn’t because we had set up a program or trip for the adults and teens. nope they saw the need and decided for the glory of CHRIST they needed to do something about it. 7 hours later they left to finish their trip.
this would have been good enough but there was more. after our youth service last night i received a call from stephen, one of our youth. he said he had just heard from a former boss at jason’s deli that help was needed in making meals for emergency workers in the area east of us that don’t have power. he had already called some of our youth and wanted to know if i wanted to come. “sure” i said and i told him i could get some more.
“nope. i’ll take care of that. you just come if you want to.” is what he told me. today i took my wife and kids with me to the warehouse to find that 15 youth were already there making 3,500 meals. they had set the whole thing up. they called. they organized. they reacted.
i thought that was the end of both of those stories but i was wrong.
friday i drove to mountain home, arkansas with stephen and several other people to watch alan lusk’s wedding to rebbecca cooper. on the way up to mountain home i noticed that stephen looked pretty tired and said as much. he sheepishly said “my brother and went back up to jason’s deli this morning at 4:00 a.m. to prepare some more meals. WOW!
yesterday morning i received a call from renee the director of the covenant house. she said that she and her director wanted to come up from new orleans and thank us personally for the assistance we had given them. i told her i would love to meet here but she really didn’t have to come an hour to meet me because it wasn’t really that big of a deal. i told her that i had only wished that we could have let them stay at our church, rather than merely giving them a place to rest for 7 hours or so.
“you don’t know then do you?” she said.
i asked her what she was talking about and that’s when she told me that a few of our youth parents had found them a place to stay in baton rouge. the place said they could stay there but they wouldn’t be able to provide any food or anything. that was fine because my unknown youth parents hooked them up with dinner that night and breakfast the next morning. this had all been done without me ever knowing about it. the parents involved within the youth ministry saw the need, knew it was something we would want to do, and they jumped into action taking care of things. this is the way it’s supposed to happen. the minister gives the ministry over to the church and the church responds.
the people i’ve talked about here didn’t do these things so that i would brag about them. they don’t even know that i have posted this but i wanted to put it up for the world to know what kind of church parkview is. parkview is a church that sacrifices, serves, and loves because of the fact that we were first loved by CHRIST. that’s why i received a ginger plant. renee & stacey (her director) came from covenant house to give us the ginger plant and and two “thank you” notes (one from the staff and one from the teens). i’m going to plant the ginger plant by the student center as a reminder. i think i’ll post the thank you note here for all to read. it says:
dear minister terrell,
thank you and your youth so much for ministering to the needs of my staff and kids. they were tired and hungry and you took them in and gave them food and rest. i am so glad my kids got to see people who practice what they preach in the face of disaster. i am forever grateful to you and your church.