Baton Rouge Update 7

“Moreover brethren, we made known to you the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia: that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality. For I bear witness that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely willing.” 2 Cor. 8:1-3

As we depart Baton Rouge for home I am remembering the different people that we encountered on this mission.

Chaplain/lieutenant Duren Boyce, tasked with loving and caring for the families of police officers gunned down in cold blood by a ruthless killer intent on their destruction. A killer that stole away their husbands, fathers, sons and brothers. A chaplain who had to walk their fellow officers through the trauma of seeing their partners and friends die on the streets of Baton Rouge. Then, just after laying them to rest went to work helping the people devastated by the worst flooding in the areas history. A man who was hurting himself because he was not just a chaplain but a fellow police officer. Yet, he didn’t have time to grieve, there was too much work to do. He worked morning, noon and night, not just because it was his job but because the love of Christ compelled him. I know that he was way beyond his ability to continue and even to cope with the reality of all that was going on around him; yet not only did he cope but he continued to serve, to give and to help in all liberality. True, he had sworn to protect and serve but he answered an even higher calling to be the peacemaker that Christ had called him to be.

Daniel Beadle, a Denham Springs police officer, who left the safety of his own home as the flood waters rose to go to work. He had not been called in, but he knew he would be needed so he went. For the last month he worked 12 or more hours a day to help the victims of the flood and then tirelessly to repair his flood damaged police station. He, along with a lone city maintenance worker have worked to demo walls, treat mold, hang drywall, texture and paint so his fellow workers can get back to their jobs. Yet with all this he was worried about our comfort, whether we have eaten or we had a place to sleep. Even more he was concerned for the citizens that he cared for. For many that don’t know Christ as their Lord and savior, he knew that whatever suffering they experienced in this world it is nothing compared to what is to come in an eternity without Jesus. They had lost homes, clothing, cars, all their worldly goods. He knew that very soon the anger would come followed by overwhelming hopelessness. Alcoholism would rise, as would drug use, suicide and violent behavior. Some of it would be focused on them as the most visible representatives of a government that they thought was failing them. He knew the only answer was Jesus and he wanted to help us get the message out.

Then there was Mike and Oga Jordan. Tony and I had spent a few hours at their house the other day helping them gut their house. Mike was a 19 year Navy veteran. A decorated Navy seal who had reached the rank of commander, gone repeatedly to war for our nation, only to be compelled to retire with a small pension and a 10% disability. What was his disability? Two holes in his heart from the concussion caused by his vehicle running over a land mine. His wife, Oga is a dedicated dispatcher for the Baton Rouge Police Department. They were already struggling to make ends meet when the rains started. They were not worried, because their neighborhood never flooded. Then a lightening bolt struck the tree in their front yard.

Soon after the waters began to rise on their street. He recounted to us how they first saw the water down the street, then running in front of their house, 20 minutes later it was coming through the walls and the had to flee to higher ground. They didn’t have flood insurance because their house had never flooded. In fact the house was in her father’s name so FEMA disallowed their claim for rebuilding money because they were viewed as renters. Her dad did not qualify for FEMA money because it was considered a second home. What struck me was that inspire of all this they looked to God for their strength. Though they didn’t know if they would be able to keep their home they knew that the only certainty in this world was the Lord and His word. We ended our time holding hands in a circle in their driveway for prayer.

Last but not least Keshia Gerold. A wife and mother, whose husband and the father of her children was a decorated war hero and Baton Rouge police officer. When a call came out of a “dude with a gun,” he ran to the problem, not away from it. He ended up sacrificing his life. Now, left to raise her children alone she finds strength only in Jesus and in His word. She has to start there every day or she would not make it. She worries for her children. They miss their father terribly. It was humbling to meet this woman of faith.

There were countless others, many who did not have the faith of the people above. Many in need of the hope that only Jesus can give. A hope that rises above flood waters and a savior that walks you through the fiery trials. That is why we go. Of course we want to help physically but even more to give them a hope that transcends this life. A hope only found through a personal relationship with Jesus.

Pastor Gary I Kusunoki

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