Local Churches and Ministries in Mississippi Uniquely Impacting Communities Affected by Hurricane KatrinaBy Jarvis Ward
When Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) officials finally began to better assess the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina they were amazed by the mobilization and compassionate response by local churches and partnering churches. Even the Mississippi Red Cross state director recently said to a group of government leaders that "if the church had not taken the initiative many more people would have died."
Churches and faith-based ministries in and around central Mississippi mobilized ministry vehicles and personal vehicles to transport water, ice and food to those in badly damaged areas. In many counties along the coast, local churches and faith-based ministries were the first to respond and because they knew the areas, the workers could respond quickly and could creatively secure needed resources.
Members and staff of local churches and ministries were also the first to take those displaced by Katrina into their homes and facilities. These groups and individuals accepted the inconvenience of transporting, housing, feeding and clothing other Mississippi residents and displaced Louisiana and Alabama neighbors.
In almost every Mississippi county, the church and faith-based organizations have been a source of continual comfort and compassion by providing love and prayer support to those in need. When other groups were not able to help Mississippians and other displaced neighbors, local churches and faith-based organizations, in collaboration with churches and ministries around the nation, have effectively and efficiently addressed pressing needs. All ministries that helped have been moved with compassion as they provide housing, food, clothing, transportation, counseling, medical and monetary aid to those impacted by Katrina.
Leaders of local churches and ministries are also providing advocacy to those displaced in an effort to get the attention of FEMA, MEMA and insurance companies.
Local churches and ministries did not wait for money or clearance to go in to remove trees; set up feeding, clothing and water stations; or erect medical clinics for those needing daily care. Local churches and ministries, in conjunction with thousands of Christians around the world, continue to pray, to care and to share with those in need.
Through these efforts we are seeing a clear demonstration and declaration of the gospel of Jesus Christ!
Jarvis Ward is National Facilitator of City/Community Ministries, for the Mission America Coalition.