Hurricane Ida has not only mobilized local first responders to help out our neighbors, but the Christian and ministerial community as well.
Pastors in the area agree that the effects of Hurricane Ida were disastrous for those in central and east Louisiana, and galvanizing church congregations to help those affected should be a priority for people of faith.
The Rev. Zack Mitchell with the Iberia Christian Ministerial Federation said that after taking care of immediate family and friends and securing their safety, the next step of most pastors during hurricane season is to extend their services to their congregations.
“On a ministerial basis, what we desire to do and what we have put our efforts into doing is coming together,” Mitchell said. “We can do a whole lot more banding together with local organizations and pastors.”
The Rev. Wilfred Johnson with A New Chapter PUSH said that he and other local pastors have made the trip to the Thibodaux area, which met severe damage after Ida passed through.
“The damage is beyond anything you can imagine,” the Rev. Wilfred Johnson, an Iberia Parish pastor, said. “We’ve been reaching out to pastors and churches in that area to see their needs and lend a hand however we can.”
Collaborations with pastors from Lafayette to New Iberia have been in the works for the past week to help congregations and residents in east Louisiana who have been hit. Community donation drives are already planned over the next several weeks to provide a place where those who want to help have a chance.
“I believe we were blessed to be spared by this event, but we were spared so we could help others,” Mitchell said. “That’s what we do, and that’s the mindset we try to get across.”
“In these kinds of crises, helping and serving will help you deal with your personal problems.”
Mitchell also said that this area in particular is quick to come together for neighbors in need, not only from the churches but from everyone.
From a pastoral perspective, attending to the spiritual needs of those who have been hurt by the storm is also a necessity.
Counseling those in need during a natural disaster requires patience and devotion. Mitchell said that even if a pastor may not have the words, their presence alone can help.
“We all know we have various storms in our lives, and I think the quickest and the best way that we help people is to let them know we care and let them know we’re there,” Mitchell said. “We may not have the correct words but our presence can be a lot more important to them.”
Johnson said one of the best things a pastor can do for someone who has gone through a circumstance like Ida is to let them know God is in control.
“We basically just tell them just to hold on, God is still in control,” Johnson said. “Our help comes from the Lord. God has not left them nor is He forsaking them.”