New Orleans Residents: God's Mercy Evident in Katrina's Wake
By Jody Brown and Allie Martin
September 2, 2005
(AgapePress) - Two Christian leaders in New Orleans are testifying to God's mercy in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. One suggests that the death toll could have been much higher had it not been for God's mercy -- and the other that God may have used the hurricane to purge wickedness from the city.
Chuck Kelley is president of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, with facilities located near the southern banks of Lake Pontchartrain and in Chalmette, east of the city. Baptist Press reports that Kelley now finds himself homeless and with only a few personal belongings following Hurricane Katrina's devastating blow to the New Orleans area. But the seminary leader says he is able to discern God's hand in the situation.
"Imagine what would have happened if [New Orleans] had taken a direct hit," he tells BP. "The levee did not break until after the storm was clear and the winds had died down and the rescue workers were able to get out." Had the levee given way during the hurricane, he says, "untold thousands of people" would have been killed.
"It's a terrible tragedy," Kelley says of the devastation in and around New Orleans, "and we still don't know the scope of it -- but the evidences of God's mercy are there. We rejoice in the fact that He has got the whole world in His hands, including the city of New Orleans and [the seminary]."
Kelley's faith, despite his personal situation, remains steadfast. He explains to Baptist Press that he is confident of God's provision. "When we get to the end of this story," he says, "the last paragraph is going to be a testimony to the greatness and glory of our God, who is able to do all things well, and able to provide every need."
Rev. Bill Shanks, pastor of New Covenant Fellowship of New Orleans, also sees God's mercy in the aftermath of Katrina -- but in a different way. Shanks says the hurricane has wiped out much of the rampant sin common to the city.
The pastor explains that for years he has warned people that unless Christians in New Orleans took a strong stand against such things as local abortion clinics, the yearly Mardi Gras celebrations, and the annual event known as "Southern Decadence" -- an annual six-day "gay pride" event scheduled to be hosted by the city this week -- God's judgment would be felt.
“New Orleans now is abortion free. New Orleans now is Mardi Gras free. New Orleans now is free of Southern Decadence and the sodomites, the witchcraft workers, false religion -- it's free of all of those things now," Shanks says. "God simply, I believe, in His mercy purged all of that stuff out of there -- and now we're going to start over again."
The New Orleans pastor is adamant. Christians, he says, need to confront sin. "It's time for us to stand up against wickedness so that God won't have to deal with that wickedness," he says.
Believers, he says, are God's "authorized representatives on the face of the Earth" and should say they "don't want unrighteous men in office," for example. In addition, he says Christians should not hesitate to voice their opinions about such things as abortion, prayer, and homosexual marriage. "We don't want a Supreme Court that is going to say it's all right to kill little boys and girls, ... it's all right to take prayer out of schools, and it's all right to legalize sodomy, opening the door for same-sex marriage and all of that.”
Shanks heeded warnings to evacuate New Orleans, and is currently staying with friends in the Jackson, Mississippi, area.
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