Even if you've become weary of all the "hurricane news," read this brief article. It's amazing what God has done!
When Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, people from all over the world donated generously to help victims. Very soon, AiG-through a unique set of circumstances-also got involved in a very direct way.
We initiated a special relief effort to help thousands of public school students in Ocean Springs, Mississippi-an area especially devastated, and where I was scheduled to conduct a major seminar the weekend after the hurricane hit. (The seminar, of course, had to be postponed.) How did this relief project all come about?
Once we were finally able to contact the pastor of the host church after the hurricane roared through, we asked if there was a way AiG could be of assistance. He shared that it would be a great blessing and witness if we could provide school supplies and backpacks to the thousands of public school students in the area, many of whom had lost virtually everything their families owned. AiG initially committed to raise the funds for 1,000 sets of backpacks/school supplies.
Well, after we made an appeal on our website for funds for this special outreach, hundreds of AiG supporters donated enough money to supply all 4,000 students in the area-3,000 fully equipped backpacks plus a mountain of supplies for the other 1,000 youngsters, and needed personal items (e.g., toiletry kits). A team of 12 staff members from AiG, using a donated tractor-trailer and other vehicles, rushed these supplies directly to the schools and agencies in southern Mississippi.
At a staff briefing, I told our staff and volunteers that in giving these supplies to the thousands of public school students, we were "heaping coals of fire" upon their heads, according to Proverbs 25:21, 22: "
If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; For so you will heap coals of fire on his head, and the LORD will reward you." (Of course the dear students are not our "enemies," although the public education system certainly can be.)
The sense of such verses is that as metals are melted by placing coals of fire upon them, so people's hearts will be melted as we show kindness to them … and thus make them more open to the gospel.
As our staff, the local school teachers and parents were unloading 27 overflowing crates of supplies, one teacher said to an AiG staff member: "So, I suppose you've stuffed all your literature in here too?" The AiG person replied, "No, we didn't actually. We just included a card saying 'Given in the love of Jesus Christ … by your friends at Answers in Genesis.'" The teacher went quiet, and then asked what AiG was all about.
It is our prayer that the kindness shown will open many hearts there to the gospel. Who knows how many of them will visit the AiG website or attend our future seminar in Ocean Springs.