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
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, www.findshelter.org, 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 www.gospelmusicchannel.com 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 www.findshelter.org 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 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
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.