The city of New Orleans is rather close to my heart. Although I never lived there, I did attend receive my doctorate from New Orleans seminary, and therefore visited the city several times. Some people dear to me don't really like New Orleans--it's not their cup of gumbo, so to speak. They feel uneasy with all the partying and the casinos and the general run-down nature of much of the city. I look at New Orleans differently. I love the history, the food, the Creole accents and the French Quarter. Mostly, I love the "differentness" of New Orleans. More than any other city I've visited, it has a unique character. It's the closest one can come to going to a foreign city without leaving the US or having to learn another language.
There are some wonderful people in New Orleans. One of them is a man named Joe McKeever, who I have blogged about in the past. He is the director of the Greater New Orleans Baptist Association, and writes an outstanding blog every week. This past Spring, I took our staff to New Orleans for staff retreat (yet another excuse for me to visit the city), and I was privileged to meet Joe for the first time. He took our staff on a tour of the city, including the devastated Lower Ninth Ward, as well as some areas that didn't get nearly the media attention, like St. Bernard Parish. He also told us some amazing stories about how pastors and churches were rebuilding lives and ministries.
Now another hurricane is headed into the gulf, and this one might hit New Orleans. As we all get ready for the possibility that Gustav might strike us, let's remember to pray fervently for the people of New Orleans. Joe wrote about this in his blog this week, and you can read his comments here. His post gives a very good perspective on how New Orleanians feel about this possible disaster. Here's an excerpt, if you don't have time to read the entire article:
One thing we can pretty much agree on: if New Orleans gets hit anywhere near the way we did in Katrina, it's all over for this city. The federal government is not going to want to invest another 100 billion dollars in rebuilding the city, the state government is going to tire of it, and churches and denominational groups around the country are surely going to say, "Sorry, New Orleans. Been there; done that. No more."
If we incur massive devastation again, thousands of citizens who are "on the bubble" about leaving will decide "that's it for me" and relocate.
You can see why a direct hit by a hurricane is the last thing we need around here.
Thanks for praying for us. Not that we wish a hurricane on anyone else. But in some respects, we're still on life support around here and do not need Gustav to unplug the IV.