Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

September 11, 2005


Katrina devastation continues to stir emotions


          In the year that Katrina destroyed New Orleans, I saw the Lord. He was not high and lifted up as when Isaiah saw him. He was low, down to earth, where people were suffering and dying.

          I saw him in the faces of emergency medical people risking their lives to rescue bewildered people from the rooftops of homes engulfed by raging waters.

          I saw him in the smiles of children selling lemonade on street corners in safe cities, raising money for victims of the horrible hurricane.

          I saw him on Interstate 85 as convoys of truckloads of supplies were hurrying south to aid the thousands who had lost everything but their lives.

          I saw him in the caring faces of nurses and doctors who had rushed to the coast to set up makeshift, field hospitals and provide medical assistance to befuddled men, women, and children.

          I saw him in the men and women of the National Guard who rushed so quickly to the rescue of desperate people begging to be saved from the unbelievable destruction that descended upon them like a shot out of hell.

          I saw him in the disciplined soldiers of the 82nd Airborne Division who were quickly bringing order to the chaos and violence that so often accompanies natural disasters. We have a fine grandson who serves with the 82nd.

          Through Garrett we have come to appreciate this terrific group of men and women who are tough enough to run five miles before breakfast every morning. Though they are stationed at Fort Bragg, they stand ready to go wherever they are needed, anywhere in the world, at a moment’s notice.  Little wonder they are known as the Army’s most combat ready unit of soldiers. To know them, and to know they are there, makes me proud to be an American.

          I saw the Lord in the familiar Red Cross emblem that is always so visible wherever disasters occur. Red Cross workers and volunteers risk their own lives, leaving the comfort of their own homes, to bring help and hope to helpless people robbed of hope by overwhelming tragedy.

          I saw him in the faces of thousands of other volunteers who have put their own lives on hold so they can help rescue people still trapped in their homes and assist those already evacuated to find shelter, water, and food. Who would not be inspired by the 100 police officers from New York City who are now wading in the filthy water and garbage of a city tarnished by the stench of death? They have not forgotten how others rushed to help them in the aftermath of 9/11.

          I saw him in the willingness of our church leaders to offer St. James Church as a Red Cross Shelter. Quickly the Red Cross guided refugees to the church and by Friday 43 persons were guests in our church.

          I marveled at the wisdom of our staff to speak of these people as “residents” instead of refugees or evacuees.  Our congregation turned over six Sunday School rooms to them, saying to each one, “This is your home, as long as you need it.” Church members were asked to respect their privacy since a wing of the church was now their home.

          I saw the Lord in the face of Penny McKee who has marshaled enough volunteers to prepare three meals a day for our residents. Like so many other volunteers who have manned the church 24-7, to meet the needs of these families who lost their homes on the coast, Penny has not
”grown weary in well doing.”

          I saw him in the faces of caring people who have come to the church in a steady stream to offer eggs, blankets, clothes, and whatever else was needed to care for our residents. People do become weary of volunteering their time and service for others, I know that. But so far, the help needed to maintain the church as a Shelter has been abundantly available.

          I saw the Lord in the kindness of two little girls, Ella Grace Sawyer and Sarah Albritton (my granddaughter), who brought toys and stuffed animals to a precious six-year-old girl among the residents.

          I saw him in the love expressed to our residents by Scott, John, Ray, Mike, Jay, Brad, Jeremy, Laura, Sarah, Joy, Abbie, Betty, Linda, Pat, and a host of others who stepped up to the plate to serve hurting people in the name of the Lord.

          Yes, in the year that Katrina wreaked havoc upon our neighbors on the coast, I saw the Lord.  Has he begun a purification of America?  As you view the carcasses of casinos destroyed on the coast, you decide. He is not dead. He is not asleep. And there is no “Mother Nature.” There is only God, the Creator of heaven and earth, the One to whom all of us are accountable.  + + + +