09/12/05 — Prayers, supplies sent to evacuees

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Prayers, supplies sent to evacuees

By Dennis Hill
Published in News on September 12, 2005 1:51 PM

The devastation of Hurricane Katrina is a tragedy, but it also is an opportunity for people of faith "to show their Christian love," said the Rev. Dr. William Barber at a prayer service Sunday evening at Rebuilding Broken Places community center.

Pastors from a dozen churches in Wayne and Lenoir counties and more than 100 people attended the service, which was held to both promote donations to the victims of the storm and to unite the Christian community in its response efforts.

The Rev. Louis Leigh of First African Baptist Church quoted the Bible and Jesus' teachings about helping those in need.

"I was naked in New Orleans, and you clothed me not," he said, paraphrasing the biblical passage. "I was hungry in Mississippi, and you fed me not.

"Don't keep blaming the president and FEMA," Leigh said, referring to criticism that the government has been slow to respond to the disaster. "We have a responsibility. It's more blessed to give than to receive. If you don't understand that, then you don't understand Christianity."

Donations of food, water, backpacks filled with school supplies for children and cash donations were made.

The Rev. Christian Umeofia of the Episcopal Church, who is a native of Nigeria, said he has seen suffering in many parts of the world in his travels. He said he lived in Mississippi for eight years and has many friends there who have been hurt by the storm. He also reminded those present of the Bible's call to help a neighbor in need and of the promise to repay the helper.

"There is no way the Lord will not pay you back for your compassion," Umeofia said.

David Brindle of Goldsboro Friends Meeting said one of his members who is 91 years old said "he can't drive a nail or drive a truck anymore, but he can still write a check."

Barber said area ministers were to meet Tuesday to discuss a plan that would make available six permanent homes in Wayne County for victims from the Gulf Coast.

Kenneth and Tina Toussaint and their son, John, who lost their home in New Orleans, attended the service and thanked the people who have helped them.

Kenneth Toussaint said his family was overwhelmed by Katrina but that the kindness shown to them by the people of North Carolina, and especially Wayne County, has proved even more overwhelming.

The Rev. William Ordelt of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church delivered the evening's keynote address.

"Our task this evening, my friends, is not to sit here and posture and pontificate and placate and procrastinate. Our task here is to share, from our gifts given to us by the Creator, with those who have no gifts. Our task here is to become the voice of God, the hands of God, the feet of God, the heart of God, the love of God, to the people of God who stand in need of the even the most basic gifts from God."