Len Miller was only supposed to be dropping off a delivery of clean water tanks to Lake Charles, Louisiana, after Hurricane Laura made landfall in August. Four weeks and 6,000 gallons later, Len was still onsite with the Louisiana Baptists, making sure volunteers and survivors had safe drinking water and going on delivery runs as needed.
Len was saved when he was 35 years old but, because of his transient lifestyle, he never had the opportunity to join a home church and be baptized. While working with some Arkansas volunteers and having gospel conversations with survivors, Len came under the conviction of the Holy Spirit and asked if Gibbie McMillan, Louisiana Baptist’s Disaster Relief Director, would baptize him.
Len also asked if he could have a study Bible. Driving his 18-wheeler all day, Len was used to listening to Scripture passages on long stretches of open road, but he wanted to dive deeper and begin studying the text himself. Trinity Baptist Church provided a study Bible that response workers and volunteers signed and gifted him after his baptism, which was held in a cattle trough that had been used to wash relief tarps.
Yesterday, after delivering a load of ice and staying for a meal with volunteers, another trucker—Ray—followed in Len’s footsteps and committed his life to Christ.
Since response efforts for Hurricanes Laura and Delta have been underway, more than 200 similar professions of faith have been made—the most salvations in one location that the Louisiana Baptists have recorded in the past 20 years.
Many of these professions came after chaplains working the food lines shared short gospel presentations as families received their meals. As of this month, there are three main feeding sites being operated by volunteers from over 26 states, including Alaska and Hawaii. Amid all the reconstruction work being done, these volunteers are serving 10,000 meals a day in a drive-through line for hurricane survivors.
Volunteers are taking every social distancing precaution, including wearing masks and gloves at all times, and Director McMillan shared that there has not been a single COVID-19 case reported among volunteers since the efforts began.
In addition to food distributions, volunteers are distributing tarps, removing fallen trees, replacing insulation and conducting mud-out projects following Hurricane Delta’s floods. The Southern Baptist Convention of Texas has also been holding food distributions extending in a 50-mile radius around Lake Charles, with some teams staying as long as two months. Director McMillan shared, “The work has been very labor-intense, but volunteer teams have been such a blessing—especially considering the pandemic’s extra barriers.”
McMillan further commented on response efforts, “Many people call and ask what we need right now, and my best response to that is if you want to help and be a part of every aspect of disaster relief, the best thing to do is give an offering. Every dime goes towards helping real people recover, and there are many unexpected costs. For example, a shipment of ice—which is much-needed in 100-degree Louisiana weather—is $10,000, and that’s just one expense. There’s a lot to be done yet, and we expect to be in recovery at least through the first of next year.”
The communities affected by recent hurricanes are hurting and fatigued. While volunteer teams get to come and go, residents of the regions most impacted are burnt out from living in survival mode for so long. Pray for supernatural strength and the ability to take a Sabbath.
Leadership in Louisiana are overwhelmed with decision-making. 140 churches were damaged in Hurricane Laura, with 38 being beyond repair and 12 being completely destroyed. The pastors and disaster relief directors need your prayers to make the best choices for these congregations as they recover and rebuild.
As Director McMillan shared, “We are not trying to fix the whole world, but we are helping people stay on their feet so that they can begin again. That’s part of the help, healing and hope that we offer. Our prayer is that people would know that even though these storms have marked them forever, they will be met by God and people who love Him.”
As hurricane relief efforts continue, you can help families recover by giving at sendrelief.org/projects/delta.
Published October 25, 2020