Thursday, May 04, 2006
Back to New Orleans
I've just wrapped up another week in New Orleans. I wasn't there for recovery efforts this time, but for a "Planting and Growing Movements Training" conference. I joined with about 70 other Campus Crusade staff from around the country to discuss what it means to plant and grow new movements on campuses. The conference was made up mostly of staff who are new to our Catalytic ministry, which is comprised of staff who lead ministries in metro, state and distance situations. I was able to lead a session on "The Basics of Crossing Cultures" and also participated in some Q and A sessions.
One of the best parts of the conference was the lift that we were able to provide to our staff here in New Orleans. We have not had a staff team there for some years, but have a team that will be in place for the upcoming school year. We will be able to capitalize on the contacts that we made with students and churches through the Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts as the team seeks to help launch a number of ministries in the fall. We spent Wednesday this week out on the campuses of New Orleans -- Xavier, Tulane, U. of New Orleans, Dillard and Delgado Comm. College -- doing what we call "decoding."
Decoding is when we take time to prayer walk a campus, learn about the demographics, gather valuable information and talk with students and administration. I joined with a few others to go to Dillard University. Dillard is a historically black college that was severely hit by the flooding after Katrina. Having a normal enrollment of 2,200 students, only about 1,000 students are now attending. Students have classes at a hotel, some of the administration meets in one building and the top officials meet in another.
We met with some of the administration in the downtown building that currently houses their offices and got some contact information of some leaders on campus. We then drove over to the actual Dillard campus to walk the grounds and pray for the students that would be on the campus in the fall. After that, we drove through some of the areas of the city that have yet to recover from the hurricane. None of those that were with me had seen the city since Katrina, and we prayed for the residents and the city as we drove through the neighborhoods.
When faced with realities like what currently exists in New Orleans, you wonder what you can do. Campus Crusade has contributed significantly as we've sent over 10,000 people to the gulf coast since the hurricane, and these thousands of workers have gutted over 3,000 homes. Our efforts have saved residents literally millions of dollars in costs of what they would have had to pay professionals to gut their homes.
In addition to the manual labor that we've provided, the prayer walking we've done is also significant. God hears our prayers and answers and it is a valuable way that we can contribute to the spiritual renewal of New Orleans. And that renewal is needed. I spent one evening this week in the French Quarter on Bourbon Street and I couldn't believe the sin that is there. I can't imagine what it must be like during Mardi Gras. Without going into details, the debauchery there is severe and the move of God's Spirit is certainly needed. Please continue to pray for God to move among the heart's of those in New Orleans and those that will be moving back into the city.