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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

God in the Storm

By Michael Parker
Aug. 29, 2010

She stood and thanked God for what He did in the midst of the largest natural disaster to hit our region in years. It was Wednesday night during the praise portion of Bethel Assembly of God’s midweek service in Monroe, La. With all of the misery and strife experienced by tens of thousands of people in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, how could anyone be thankful?

Let me tell you her story.

Inez and Steve Becnel and their youngest daughter lived in a second-floor apartment in the Gentilly section of New Orleans. When Katrina approached the city, this family prudently heeded the warnings from state and local officials and traveled some 300 miles to our north Louisiana town of Monroe. Acquaintances here opened their home to the family. They could only watch on television in horror as scenes of destruction and devastation unfolded on the Gulf Coast region.

The Becnels’ host family invited them to church on Sunday morning. Now you must understand, these folks who had fled the storm had never before attended an Assemblies of God church. As they settled into the back seats of the sanctuary, it was as though they had entered an alien environment. This was nothing like the services to which they were accustomed in New Orleans. The music was loud and up-tempo, the worship was energetic, and there was plenty of praying aloud and folks who prayed in a “foreign language.”

All of this was new and contradictory to anything they had experienced in church before. You might expect this would be a place to visit once and never return. But return they did. As Pastor B.F. Sellers and church families extended a gracious hand of friendship, Steve and Inez began to feel more and more at home.

When after several weeks the Becnels were finally able to return to their home in New Orleans, they discovered that floodwaters had reached a level of at least eight feet and widespread devastation lay across their community. While water had not actually flooded their apartment, the long days of heat and high humidity had damaged almost everything. Precious few of their personal items could be salvaged. Clothing that was not irrevocably damaged had to be washed several times before it was suitable to be worn.

It was impossible to return to their apartment. They decided to come back to Monroe — leaving their two older daughters and their families behind in the New Orleans area — to make a new life in north Louisiana. Steve had worked for the school board as an IT tech in New Orleans and was able to find employment with the school board in the Monroe area, transferring all of his employment and retirement benefits. They found a house to live in and slowly did their best to return to pre-hurricane family routines.

With one exception … they had received a taste of a new church life and the genuine fellowship of Holy Spirit-filled worship. Regular Sunday morning and evening and Wednesday night church attendance had become part of their lives. They soon accepted Christ as their Savior and have now become active members of Bethel Assembly. In 2008, they both received the baptism in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in other tongues.

It was shortly after her Holy Spirit experience that Inez stood in church to give her testimony.

“I left my family and friends behind in New Orleans,” she said, “but I now have a church family. When I came here for the first time, I was surprised by what I saw, and yet I felt at home. I look forward to going to church for each service. I am 51 years of age, and yet I had never read the Bible. For the first time in my life I now read my Bible.”

God has certainly intervened in the lives of this family. What was a tragedy has been turned into good for Steve and Inez. And your Heavenly Father has the ability to turn your greatest storms into sources of blessing.

I hope you will let Him.

MICHAEL PARKER is an ordained Assemblies of God minister in Monroe, La.

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