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Hurricane Katrina-Two Christian Responses

I don't need to give you the details of the tremendous tragedy that beset hundreds of thousands of people in the Southern United States as a result of Hurricane Katrina so I won't. But I do want to share what part of the Christian music industry is doing to aid in the relief efforts in the United States and Canada. 
Most of us tend to think of the United States as a very wealthy country that doesn't need anyone else's help, however, no country can sustain the kind of losses that have occurred as a result of Hurricane Katrina and not feel the impact. As you read about two of the relief efforts underway, I encourage you to examine your hearts and ask if there is anything--no matter how big or small--that you can do to assist families and individuals who have just watched their lives shatter. 
I took the opportunity to speak with Charley Humbard who co-founded the Gospel Music Channel with Brad Siegel and is spearheading a benefit concert to be aired September 22, 2005, at 7 pm Eastern Standard Time in the United States. For those in other countries, use New York City as your reference point to calculate the difference in time. I also spent a few minutes with Rocketown Records recording artist Shaun Groves who has partnered with Carsie Denning to form Find Shelter,, a volunteer group that has been acting as a conduit to connect families in need of homes, jobs and so many other things, with potential sponsors.
The role of the church in all of this cannot be underestimated. Says Shaun Groves, "The tendency when you travel around and see as many Christians as I do, you see this overwhelming eagerness to just turn over so many jobs of the church to political parties or business institutions. (People say) that person over there will take care of it or that group over there can do better than me. This is a wonderful object lesson that everybody else doesn't have the compassion or the solution that we have. 
"There are lots of good people who have come to help with the result of this hurricane but their help can only go so far. Our help can go all the way to the soul of the person. It's been really encouraging because as I have traveled around the past four years doing this job (singer/songwriter/musician) I go through small seasons maybe a day or two at a time when I feel like we just don't get it. I just don't get it. Why can't I live this Christian life? Why can't I be less selfish and more serving? I find myself pointing fingers at everybody including me and asking when are we going to clue in and do something about our faith. When are we going to be the loving compassionate people that God made us to be? This has been an incredibly encouraging time for me to see that we really are (compassionate). 
"When the big one hit the church responded. The church all over the world is pouring out compassion for people affected by Katrina. I am very proud to be a Christian right now. There have been many times in my life when I haven't been but I am extremely proud of the church (now) that she is being what she is supposed to be. We are meeting needs in a way that really nobody else can meet. I am going to try and hang on to that and next time I get frustrated with myself or with the church I am going to try and remember Katrina was the time the church showed up and we loved people, we served we dropped everything else in life and it didn't revolve around us anymore it revolved around the very least."
Charley Humbard of the Gospel Music Channel says, "We really felt strongly we needed to help with organizing an event to do our part in the community to help with the victims of Hurricane Katrina and more specifically the evacuees. It will be simulcast on the Paxson Communications Network nationwide as well as the Worship Channel. It will also be on as a live streaming cast that night. I think for folks in Canada, Australia and other places overseas where your readers might be, it is great because they will see it (the concert)," says Humbard. At the time of our conversation several other cable operators were expressing an interest in broadcasting the concert. XM Radio will also be carrying the concert.
Using Atlanta as the hub for the broadcast, the concert will feature artists from virtually every genre of the Christian music industry. The artists who have already committed to participating in the concert include; Nicole C Mullen, Natalie Grant, Blind Boys of Alabama, BarlowGirl, Aaron Shust, George Huff and NewSong.
Donations will be received throughout the concert and will go directly to World Vision's efforts to feed the children who have suffered as a direct result of this natural disaster. No matter where you live in the world you will have an opportunity to respond to the need.
"When you see tragedy on this large a scale you heart aches because I just want them (the victims) to get help and I don't really care where it comes from," says Groves. 
During our conversation, Groves expressed frustration at not being able to physically do more "hands on" because of previous commitments. "I was praying that God would show me what I could do besides write a check to somebody. I wanted to go and serve a meal. I wanted to go there so bad and work in the Astrodome or a shelter or somewhere. I couldn't and I was frustrated by that. After a show, a man walked up to me that I had met a couple of years before. He is a business man and a Christian. His name is Carsie Denning and he said, 'I have a plan and I need your help.' So I said, okay, hit me. He said, 'we have this website going up tonight and here is what we are doing.' All he had to do was to say the first sentence and I was hooked. He said, 'We are finding families who lost everything and need our help. We are connecting them to churches who can give them help. We are helping churches help people.'"
Groves said he wasn't content to be just a spokesperson and wanted to be a partner in the venture. He is directly involved with Denning and the volunteer seminary students from several Christian schools who are assisting the families and sponsor churches in connecting. "We need to find long-term solutions for these people. We are looking for churches that can either pay to relocate a family and provide all their needs or we can find a church closer to the disaster who can meet their needs." says Groves. "We asked how do we find families and we finally started using seminary students who went to the shelters with clipboards and take names. We have partnered with the North American Mission Board to get more churches involved." Some of the solutions in addition to finding shelter for the families include finding clothing, providing food and employment.
As some of you know two years ago, my only child a teenage son died suddenly from an undetected heart problem. In the days and months following that tragedy, it was interesting to watch so many of my non-Christian friends disappear but those friends both old and new who are followers of Christ stood by me. Also I discovered new friends I didn't know I had. That tremendous outpouring of love sustained me in my time of need. Today hundreds of thousands of people from the southern United States have been traumatized by the worst natural disaster to affect this country in our lifetime. Will you be counted among those who made a difference? 
A very long time ago as a theology student, I had the opportunity to spend the better part of a week with teacher and author Reuben Welch who was often fond of saying, "We really do need each other."
By Joe Montague, exclusive rights reserved

Joe Montague is an internationally published journalist / photographer. His ministry is dedicated to the memory of his late son Kent David Montague who went to heaven at the age of 18. All copyright and distribution rights remain the property of Joe Montague. 


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