Thursday, September 08, 2005

A Tale of Two Journeys

This morning I went to Cisco. Sounds mundane to many, but when I say this morning I mean this morning. At 2:50 A.M. I went with 3 students and 4 professors to meet evacuees of Katrina in Cisco, Texas.

As I rode with strangers from ACU on the way to this new home for several people from Louisiana, I wondered what I would see. As I was in a van silently pondering what the campsite would be like and unsure of what my task would be, I could only imagine how different my life would be if I were an evacuee on a bus with strangers to an unknown place I would call home for months. To evacuees without a map, Cisco, TX, must be just as foreign as another country. They were in a bus with people who they didn't know trusting that they were going some place where they would be taken care of.

This was truly a tale of two journeys. I came knowing I would go home to see my wife hours later, while these evacuees went with their families to a new home with every unknown imaginable.

When I got there, one busload had already gotten there and the people were already sent off to bed. An hour later another busload of about 30 got out. These were the faces of a tragedy I had seen on tv. TV never does justice. Their eyes were yellow and red, they smelled terrible and their stories were amazingly vivid.

One family I spent time with was made up of a husband, wife and 7 kids who were all under the age of 14. As we talked to these people we heard their amazing stories. This family was from New Orleans and was evacuated Tuesday of this week. They had spent over a week in the second story of their flooded house. Halfway through the week, the roof collapsed on them. After a week, finally they were airlifted to Baton Rouge and shipped off to Cisco. What a journey it had been? They were not bitter. They were not desiring to loot as many of the television stations might portray them. Rather, they were thankful people who needed people to talk with and share their amazing stories.

Now, I have faces to go with this tragedy. I will go back, you can be sure of that. Money is a good thing to give, but I believe this morning was the first time I actually gave a cup of cold water to a thirsty man and his son. This morning was the first time I had ever personally given clothes to the near naked. This morning was the first time I was able to give shelter to a family who had none. It feels good to give people hope and give in the name of Jesus.

Is social justice important? Just ask this family who thanked us over and over again for just water, sweaters, blankets, and a roof. You could tell clearly from the looks on their faces that they would say, "Yes, it does matter!"

As I came back to Abilene, I realized how blessed I truly am. I was able to go back to my warm shelter, comfortable clothes and cold water, but these people remain all over the United States. Get involved in the lives of these evacuees because I can tell you that Jesus is waiting to be fed and clothed!

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