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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. ...

Oil Spill in the Gulf

By Ron Showers
Nov. 14, 2010

Down Louisiana’s bayous are small towns where everyone knows everyone’s name, and many residents crab, fish and shrimp to put money in their pockets and food on the table. It’s a simple life that has been passed down from one generation to the next. But that way of life has been tested of late thanks to the continuing effects of Hurricane Katrina and, more recently, the nearly 5 million gallons of crude oil that gushed into the Gulf of Mexico from a deep-water oil rig that exploded on April 20.

Residents in these bayou towns have been living day to day wondering what the future holds for them, their families, their communities and the Gulf. Recently, Convoy of Hope partnered with Victory Fellowship Church in Metairie to bring community outreaches to three bayou towns via local churches. The following is a special report I filed shortly after the outreaches.

Difference makers
A few months ago Frank Bailey, senior pastor of Victory Fellowship, approached Convoy of Hope with the idea of targeting three communities on the bayou that were reeling. Bailey said the communities he had in mind relied heavily on the oil, fish, crab and shrimp industries to fuel their local economies and needed help. We agreed and dispatched a tractor-trailer full of groceries to Louisiana.

The plan was for each honored guest at each outreach to receive bags of groceries, a meal, entertainment, hygiene products and a Bible.

“This is an act of compassion,” Bailey says to me as the first outreach is getting under way. “We know that feeding them once and giving them groceries is not going to solve all their problems, but it will give us an opportunity to show them Christ and connect them with a local church.”

In St. Bernard — where the first outreach is held at Poydras Baptist Church — more than 200 people stand in line to receive food. Among those waiting for groceries is Frances.

“We came out here because we are low on food,” says Frances, 50. “Everyone in Poydras is hurting right now. If not for churches like this, the people here wouldn’t make it!”

John Galey, senior pastor of the church, says people were just starting to recover from Hurricane Katrina when the oil spill happened. Though many families in his congregation have been impacted by the spill too, Galey says his congregation was more than eager to help out fellow residents by hosting an outreach where groceries would be given away.

“It’s good for our church people to pass out groceries,” he says.

Concern for the future
The next afternoon we wheel our tractor-trailer into the parking lot of House of Refuge (Assembly of God) in St. Bernard. The sun is still high, and it will be at least an hour before the outreach starts, but already dozens of vehicles are lined up on the adjacent highway.

“The oil spill has been rough on many families in our community and church,” says House of Refuge Senior Pastor James Jeffries. “But the greatest fear among people right now is not that they will go hungry today; instead, they’re worried about the future.”

Tony, 40, is a perfect example of this. With tears in his eyes he speaks of his anger, frustration and fears for his family’s way of life.

“Besides our fishing community, where are we going to live, and what are we going to do for a living?” he asks. “I’m worried about my three kids. What good is having a shrimp boat if there are no shrimp in the water to catch? No one knows what will happen three to four years from now.”

Henry Ballard, a partner in the outreach and senior pastor of Christian Fellowship in nearby Violet, echoes Tony’s sentiments.

“Many families are wondering what they will do to take care of their families,” he said. “Every bit of relief helps these families.”

An eclectic mix of people have com to the outreach — several make their living from the Gulf or in construction, others own small businesses, and some are unemployed and homeless.

The eyes of one woman, with a toddler in her arms, tear up as she explains that she does not have a job or home. Another homeless woman tells of how the food she received gives her hope that everything will be OK.

“I am not afraid of working; I just need some help right now,” she says. “This food will help out a lot. I’m grateful for whatever I can get.”

Repeat visitors
During the third outreach, nearly 500 people come to Adullam Christian Fellowship — just outside New Orleans’ Ninth Ward in Arabi — for a meal and groceries. Randy Millet, Adullam Christian’s senior pastor, encourages those gathered by recounting how residents rebounded so impressively after Hurricane Katrina and that they are resilient and can make it through the tough times.

A handful of the faces at the outreach are familiar to me as they had attended the previous outreaches in Poydras and St. Bernard. Perhaps they are drawn because they desperately need the free groceries. Maybe even a sense of camaraderie that only comes when one gathers with others who are suffering. I like what Jeffries said the night before when asked why his church thought it was so important to help those who were hurting.

“As long as there are hungry people and we have food, we need to give it to them,” Jeffries said. “The people will remember the churches who were there for them in their darkest hours — feeding people cannot only have a temporary impact, but an eternal one too.”

RON SHOWERS is a U.S. Outreach director for Convoy of Hope. Visit his blog at

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