I had the opportunity to go with a group of women to New Orleans in April. Part of the group partnered with the Baptist Friendship House. This is a wonderful ministry that help the homeless. This particular trip was to partner with Kay Bennett for their Annual Health Fair. Some of the women who went were able to give haircuts, manicures/pedicures, blood pressure checks, things like that. The rest of us went to serve at the Global Maritime Ministries. This ministry provides ministry to international seafarers and port related personnel. Most of the ships that port are only there for a few hours. This gives the crew opportunities to make phone calls, check email, receive mail or take care of any personal needs. With this facility near the port, seafarers are able to walk to the center. They also provide transportation to and from the terminals as well as the local Wal-Mart. Resources are available to them for free! The goal is to provide bible study, prayer time counseling, encouragement and fellowship!
The first day we deep cleaned the facility and I baked cookies and treats for the next day! I was so excited to be able to talk to so many from all over the world about Jesus! I met some great people! One particular girl stood out to me. She was looking at the bookshelf for a book. I asked her if I could help her find something in particular. She told me she was attending a bible study on the ship she was working on. She said she needed help with finding direction and God’s will. I gave her a copy of the Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. She also said the bible translation the pastor read from was hard to understand (KJV). I gave her a bible that was NIV. She went and sat down by herself and began to flip through the book while eating lunch we prepared for them.
This day, most of the visitors were from the Philippines. Awesome! My great grandfather is from there so I thought, this will be a great conversation starter. I went and sat down by her. We exchanged names (hers is Theresa N.) As we began to talk, she told me how she was an accountant on a cruise liner and she missed her family terribly. She shared with me that her husband who was working had to quit his job to take care of their children because they couldn’t afford to pay for a sitter. She has a daughter and two sons.
She started to get tears in her eyes. I asked if I could pray with her. She said yes so we went into the chapel. We sat facing each other and continued to talk. She took my hands in hers. I began to pray and she started to weep! I can honestly tell you the prayer I prayed was the most beautiful, encouraging, Holy Spirit filled prayer I have ever prayed! God had given me the words to say and I know they were specifically for her to hear! After we said Amen, I looked at her and with tears in my eyes she gazed back at me and said, “I feel like I have known you my whole life!” “We’re friends now!” We stood up, hugged and laughed! I had made a new friend! The best part I was able to pray for her right where we were and God knew I would be in that place at that very moment! What a blessing I received and I know she was blessed beyond measure.
I went over to a group of guys sitting on the couches and I could see the television flipping through channels. I asked if I could help him find something and he said he was looking for football and not the American kind! I am so glad I got to chat with him! He was truly amazing! He showed me pictures of his home, mother and family back in Zimbabwe. He educated me on a few things about his country. His name is Owen! We are friends on Facebook!
On Friday we partnered with Franklin Avenue Baptist Church with their street ministry team. We went door to door conducting surveys and witnessing to the people. We wanted to let them know that the church was there for them. They have a food pantry and also give free meals during the week. We passed out flyers informing the neighborhood about the services the church provides. Most people were willing to speak with us. They knew about the church which shows the church is being the light in darkness! We came upon a man sitting on his front porch steps smoking a joint. Yes, we told him about Jesus anyway!
Most of the people have rebuilt after Katrina but there are houses still standing with the markings of her destruction. The people of New Orleans have lost hope! Most of the people evacuated have now relocated in other states. They won’t be back. So, what is left is decay and hopelessness! It breaks my heart! Pray for the members at Franklin Ave that they may show these people that there is hope! It can only found in Jesus!