Holy empathy? Perhaps not as much as there once was. The Katrina catastrophe came with profound repercussion leaving most of us, well, stunned. As the category four hurricane was preparing to make landfall, all eyes were glued to television coverage--amazed by the enormity of the storm.
New Orleans was described as a possible "Venice" in the making, should the hurricane break the levees and loose a flooded lake Pontchartrain into the lower lying city. The damage and number of lives lost was estimated at unthinkable numbers. But how quickly did the shock and awe drop intercessors to their knees to pray? How rapidly was curiosity overcome by compassion?
"I couldn't take my eyes off the TV," stated Jonathan Cooper of St. Louis, Missouri. "Katrina was huge. I didn't think New Orleans had a prayer." Cooper, an active member of Towers Baptist Church, St. Louis, when asked to elaborate, explained, "Of course, that's just a figure of speech. I'm sure there were thousands of people praying." Yet, Cooper confessed that he himself had barely prayed at all. "I guess we could all do a little better," Cooper sheepishly concluded.
"Let's remember those in New Orleans," stated Rev. William Tanner (pastor of New Hope Church, Little Rock, Arkansas), concluding his Sunday sermon with some semblance of an obligatory expression of compassionate Christianity. In a post service interview, Tanner explained, "We really have enough problems of our own here in Little Rock, but people expect us to make mention of the hurricane situation, so I try not to forget to include it." Tanner's church struggles with a high financial debt for a church building already in need of considerable renovation. "Don't get me wrong, I think it's important to remember them, but the good Lord only gives us so much, and I have levees of my own to hold together," Tanner added.
"I think it's the wrath of God," exclaimed Theresa Martin of Houston Texas. "That city is so full of evil--like a modern Sodom and Gomorrah if you ask me." When questioned about her prayer response in regards to the victims, Martin explained, "I think they got what they deserve. I love Jesus, and I have no intention of prayin' against His will in the matter."
"I just spend too much time thinking about myself," John Hudson, of Denver, Colorado confesses, "Something like this reminds me what's important." Hudson, a young Christian, seen as "a bit unorthodox" by his peers at Central Community Church, has resided in Denver his entire life; yet, "that doesn't mean the people hundreds of miles away are any less important," he expressed. "Prayer? Absolutely!" Hudson exclaimed, "It all starts with prayer, and prayer is what those people need." Hudson claims to set aside no less than thirty minutes each day just for prayer. "When I pray for people, Jesus inspires me to do more," Hudson continued, "He causes me to think of their needs and gives me wisdom on how to help."
"As a result of years of neglect, New Orleans has suffered terribly," Isaiah Thomas indicted. "We as a church have left New Orleans, and many cities like it, without the proper prayer support. The levees collapsed long ago, and our apathetic hearts are to blame." Isaiah, a missionary/prophet, of sorts, lives in a small shanty just north of New Orleans. Isaiah has been busy from daybreak to dusk everyday, working with relief efforts, attempting to do his part to mend the broken lives in a broken city. But, "I can't do it alone," Isaiah explains, "There is such a small number of people seeking God at all as to what to do. Most seem to want to fade into the background and wait for it to pass."
This story's validity cannot be confirmed, except by each one of us as we look within our own hearts. You know how you responded personally--if you gave more attention to the TV than to prayer--if you considered God's wrath more than His compassion. Perhaps you were more involved in talking about the event, than in praying about it. Or perhaps you responded as the Spirit of God led. We know that each of us must answer according to our actions. In the aftermath of Katrina, the United States will reflect on the events and evaluate how well the government responded--hopefully, we, as Christians, will do the same.
[NOTE: The names and places in this article are fictional. Any resemblance of information in this fictional article to actual information is purely coincidental.]
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I have been guilty of more CNN coverage than Knee Coverage, for the time I spent watching the devastation I could have been praying for the healing and recovery of the victims of this devastation, thank you for shining the light in my direction and allowing me the opportunity to turn inward to see sincerely, and with all humility what it is I can give. Thank you for this dear, compassionate beautiful library of words beckoning our compassion to rise and take notice. Bravo, to God be the Glory for the things He has done!
Randy, this is an outstanding piece that definitely does make the reader stop and reflect. I'm so glad I saw it - I just popped into the "What's New" list to see if a 500 member had written anything on Hurricane Katrina. I was actually looking for the front page feature, but would prefer to use this in the October Issue of FaithWriters' Magazine. Would that be okay with you? Definitely fits "Take it to Heart." Love, Deb