17 men and women from Evergreen Baptist Church left California to travel to Biloxi, MI on the Gulf Coast Relief team between April 22 to May 6, to work on building homes with Habitat for Humanity. We were assigned to work in Pascagoula as part of the recovery efforts from Hurricane Katrina. 10 went for a single week and 7 stayed for 2 weeks but all returned changed! Why did we go? Eph. 2:10 says "For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." But we didn't go just to perform good works. We were going in answer to a personal call from the Lord. We went to be servants but God blessed us with more than we expected.
It's hard to express the level of fellowship we experienced in 350 words or less. The moments of sweet sharing during worship times, the poignancy of the daily devotionals that we exchanged, the new relationships we forged and prayed for, and old ones renewed or deepened all go beyond what I can say on paper. It seemed that all of us were met by God at some point on our trip and it was excellent!
It didn't matter if we had no experience, we all jumped in eagerly to do what we were asked to do. Hands and backs were put to work and no complaints were heard. I marveled at the hard work and self sacrifice that were evident in the whole team. In spite of the busy-ness, opportunities to share the gospel of God's goodness were found and efforts were made to stretch ourselves out of our comfort zones! I truly witnessed Col 3:23 in action: "Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men." For though we were physically laboring to build a home or improve the church site that we lived at while we were in Biloxi, we did it all with our eyes on the ultimate goal of reaching out to share the love of the Lord with His beloved people.
Even when there was a chance to rest on the 2nd week when it rained the team chose to bless the friend of a friend by painting their home. Even the toughest of the guys showed a true tenderness for the Lord and the most timid spoke boldly with strangers in the airports in order to spread the gospel. It seems that we all miss that special time we shared while in Biloxi, it was our Mt. Zion, our moments of divine appointment. Don't be afraid to step out in faith and take God's challenge. What is he calling you to? Grab hold and go with it, you'll be blessed with more that you can hope for or imagine!
(List of Gulf Coast Relief Team: Chris Chan, Kelly Chan, Art Fong, Pam Fong, Gary Ho, Craig Kakihara, James, Kim, Peter Lau, Lorin Lew, Millie Liao, Gary Murakami, Carol Nakatsui, Mo Nakatsui, Kenny Nishida, Roy Noritake, Steve Ogata, Tommy Yamada.)