G. Todd Williams is minister at New Covenant Christian Church in Houston, Texas. A week after Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, Williams wrote about his experience providing relief to those arriving from New Orleans. Below is an excerpt.
Like so many, we were waiting. Where would the storm end up? How much damage would there be?
Having ridden out Tropical Storm Allison, I remembered the hopeless feeling, the vulnerability, the self-humbling moments.
New Covenant's mission has been to work with homeless youth. Calls began coming into my cell phone Thursday. One woman said to me, "You're the one who knows about homelessness. What can I do to help?"
On Thursday evening, youth from Covenant House in New Orleans began to arrive. Covenant House is a place for runaway youth. The stories they shared gave me an idea of what people had been through.
There's an odor I don't believe I will ever forget.
I once heard a veteran of World War II describe what he saw, but mostly what he smelled, when he entered a concentration camp. Even 50 years later, he could smell the people and see death.
A man asked if I had seen his brother. I asked him who his brother was. "Have you seen my brother?" he repeated.
Exhausted, confused, unable to focus on anything else, he could only repeat the question.
A man called about a gay couple with children who needed help. "The Red Cross won't recognize them as a family."
A short time later, the Montrose Counseling Center called: "We have a house for a family, if you know of one.
Crisis settled for the gay family.
We have services tomorrow. My series on Isaiah will have to wait.
Images flood me, and I can't stay focused. Yet, one scripture creeps into my mind:
"Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?"
In my journal, I wrote this reflection today:
Each day we must choose to walk from desolation.
Today I must be patient. Start again. Small steps will have to do now for the brokenness that we all must face together... It is time to stop lamenting and live.