Celebrating Hope in New Orleans
January 1, 2006 - I've visited New Orleans and the Gulf Coast multiple times since Hurricane Katrina. In spite of the heartbreaking destruction and overwhelming needs, I'm always encouraged by the faith and hope of Christians who survived the storm and by those who have come to help.
by Franklin Graham
We need to spread this hope. That's what the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association has been doing in cooperation with churches all along the Gulf Coast. Our Rapid Response Team has sent more than 700 chaplains who have prayed with more than 20,000 people and led more than 1,000 to life-changing commitments to Christ.
The Rapid Response Team is working alongside volunteers from Samaritan's Purse who are repairing houses and alongside churches in Louisiana who are offering new mobile homes to displaced families. We continue to receive calls on our special crisis line from first responders who are struggling with how the disaster has affected them and their families.
This spring, we want to reach out to all of New Orleans with a message of hope—the hope that the Bible calls "an anchor of the soul" (Hebrews 6:19, NIV).
At the request of local churches, BGEA is organizing the Celebration of Hope March 11-12 at the New Orleans Arena, across the street from the damaged Superdome. Less than two weeks after the end of Mardi Gras, this will be one of the first citywide events in New Orleans since before Katrina hit the Gulf Coast Aug. 29.
As residents and visitors trickle back into New Orleans and seek to deal with the unimaginable losses, God is working through the examples of Christians and churches to demonstrate His love and to prepare hearts to respond to His Word.
Since Katrina, pastors have seen people turning to prayer as never before. "This continuing tragedy has brought our city to its knees," said David Crosby, pastor of First Baptist Church.
"After the worst natural disaster in the history of this nation, never has this area been more open to spiritual renewal," said Bishop J. Douglas Wiley, whose Life Center Cathedral has been meeting under a tent since Katrina damaged the sanctuary.
Praise God—Christians always have hope, even when the world seems to be falling apart. The Apostle Paul wrote, "We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us" (Romans 5:3-5, NIV).
Our prayer for New Orleans is the same as Paul's for Rome: "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit" (Romans 15:13, NIV).
Pray with us that thousands will find that peace as we celebrate the hope of Christ in New Orleans.
The Celebration of Hope—March 11-12, 2006, at the New Orleans Arena—will feature worship, a time of prayer, testimonies, a word from Billy Graham, and a message of hope from Franklin Graham. Learn more