The calendar at First Baptist Church in Ocean Springs, Mississippi (a close neighbor to Biloxi, MS) says there was to be an Answers in Genesis conference on September 10-11. Because Hurricane Katrina flattened parts of this coastal city and destroyed much of the Gulf Coast, that didn't happen.
The Ocean Springs community calendar says that area public schools will reopen on September 26. That, with your help, will happen as members of the First Baptist Church (fittingly referred to on their website as being Anchored to the Cross) help their community of approximately 18,000 to rebuild lives and reestablish routines. For many families, seeing their children return to school is a big part of that.
Even though as many as 50 families at this Bible-believing church lost their homes and everything imaginable, Pastor Mike Barnett and the First Baptist Church family (thankful that their brick church held up well to the storm) immediately opened its doors and parking lot to those in need, serving as a beacon of light and an anchor of hope to those in need.
As Pastor Barnett told The Baptist Standard (September 6), "We want to honor the Lord and give thanks," he said as he readied the church's activity building to house out-of-town police officers on their way to help.
As part of their plan to share the love of Christ (in a very practical way) with their hurting community, First Baptist Church has set a goal of providing over 4,000 backpacks, filled with the necessary supplies, to public school children from kindergarten to high school. Even the most basic supplies, bought just a few weeks ago by parents, were lost in this catastrophic storm. Because of the devastation, families are literally unable to repurchase materials, let alone other basic necessities.
That's where we need your help. As Ken Ham, AiG-USA president, wrote last Friday, Answers in Genesis stepped out in faith with its commitment to fund and deliver at least 1,000 of these backpacks, and possibly more. AiG is also supplying "toiletry/hygiene kits" to the nearly 500 people in Pastor Barnett's congregation.
As of this morning, after having just announced this outreach effort over the weekend, supporters (from USA and other parts of the world) have already given enough to provide nearly 2,000 backpack kits. After hearing the exciting news about how God's people have responded so enthusiastically, Ken Ham sent an email to the AiG-USA leadership team, saying, "Who knows, maybe we will be able to provide all 4,000-that would be something! Let's pray we can do that!"
While the AiG conference can be rescheduled (and will be at the encouragement of Pastor Barnett), the opportunity for AiG and friends to help this pastor and his church is now! Schools reopen on the 26th and supplies are needed immediately.
As an apologetics ministry, our main mission at Answers in Genesis is to equip Christians with answers, as 1 Peter 3:15 commands us to "always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have." As Christians, we need to be ready to give answers to life's tough questions such as, "Why would a loving God allow death and disaster?" Ken Ham recently addressed this issue in his article, A Lesson from a Hurricane.
But as Christians, we also need to always be ready to show Christ's love to a hurting world, as Mark 12:31 commands us to love our neighbor as ourselves. What an opportunity to help share the love of the Creator to those in Pastor Barnett's community. What an opportunity to show that the real anchor in life is Jesus Christ. It is Him in whom we put our trust!