ABHMS commits to rebuilding flood-ravaged Baton Rouge

Top: Inside Shady Grove First Missionary Baptist Church Bottom: Denise Ned’s neighborhood

Top: Inside Shady Grove First Missionary Baptist Church
Bottom: Denise Ned’s neighborhood

When American Baptist Home Mission Societies (ABHMS) helps communities rebuild after a natural disaster, the organization truly commits. Take, for example, the Baton Rouge area. It was August when unprecedented rainfall caused flooding that affected more than 55,000 homes in Louisiana. Since then, several ABHMS-coordinated volunteer teams from American Baptist Men USA (ABMen USA) have taken mission trips to the area. Now it’s January, and ABMen from West Virginia, Illinois and Massachusetts are serving in Baton Rouge.

The pastor and staff of True Life Baptist Church, Baton Rouge, have generously provided volunteers with food, shelter and fellowship, notes Lucky Ray, executive director of ABMen USA.

“I am overwhelmed by the humility and gratefulness shown by the victims of the disastrous flood that occurred in Baton Rouge,” says Ray. “They demonstrate great hope and patience concerning the time investment in getting their lives back to normal. We have been welcomed with open arms and great Christian love.”

Volunteers gutted the home of Kenneth Chandler, pastor of Shady Grove First Missionary Baptist Church, Baker, La. Chandler reported that his home had suffered up to 1 foot of water, while the church accumulated 22 inches of water throughout its sanctuary and Family Life Center. In addition, 39 parishioners’ homes were impacted by the flood, he said.

“We’ve had a lot of help from a lot of God-fearing people,” Chandler said. “I’m grateful and I’m thankful for all of the help, for all of the prayers, for everything that’s being rendered to assist all of us in this region.”

Although her home received up to 3 feet of water, Denise Ned, a member of Greater New Guide Baptist Church, Baton Rouge, sees the positives in the situation—not the least of which are the volunteers who are helping with restoration.

“I’ve had a number of blessings in all of this,” she said. “I had people come through and work feverishly to gut the house. I’ve never seen such love and care.

“And it didn’t matter if you were black or if you were white,” she continued, noting that her subdivision is multicultural. “The night the boat came to my door to get us out of here, we were working to help babies and the elderly off the boats. Nobody had any ill feelings about anything. It’s that, ‘I just need help, and I’m grateful for you helping me.’”

Ned cited new and strengthened relationships as additional pluses.

“We’ve gotten to know neighbors better. I see that people have restored relationships, which is so wonderful,” she said. “And some people will come to know Christ in all of this, which is another wonderful thing.”

The next volunteer work weeks in Baton Rouge are scheduled for March 12-18 and 19-25.

Join ABHMS in one or more of several upcoming volunteer mission opportunities.