As you can imagine, there are many stories from the Hurricane Katrina mission trips to Bayou La Batre, just south of Mobile, Alabama. On this trip, we were working on the new construction of a Habitat for Humanity house. While we were there, some other professionals were working on the house too. When lunch time came, we all took the break to eat our peanut butter and jellies at the same time.
One of the professional workers was pretty young, perhaps in his twenties. With his Creole accent a clue, I asked if he was local. He was. Then I asked him a simple question that was a tough question for him – I asked where was he during the storm.
He said that he and his girlfriend were living in a house about a mile from the gulf. He convinced her to stay at the house during the storm with him. At night, the water started to rise and enter the house, from under the front door. They were mad as they put their TV and other items up higher in the room. But the water kept on coming. By daybreak the water was up to their necks and still coming. They pulled down the step ladder to the attic and climbed up. He brought his hammer with him in case the water would continue to rise and he would need to hammer through the roof.
There they sat. Cold and scared. In the attic, with the water rising. The young man confessed to his girlfriend. “I am so sorry that I did this to you. I am so sorry that I put you in a position that could harm you or take your life. I am so so sorry.” The water continued to rise to the attic, and he took his hammer and banged out a hole in the roof and his girlfriend and he crawled out and three hours later, they were rescued from the roof.
They are married now. He works on Habitat for Humanity houses as service in thanksgiving for still being alive and in the hopes that these houses will withstand the unwanted drama that he faced.
When I think about it, the happiest times in my life have been when I am serving, especially doing something for someone that they can’t do themselves. Sure, it may make us feel needed, but it also makes us feel purposeful and kind and those are two things we need to survive. Think about your willingness to serve the church or outside the church. Sometimes it is hard to sign up, but when we get engaged in the project, we do so happily and joyfully—and we make a difference. Somewhere, Jesus is in all of that. After all, he told us he came to serve.