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9/13/2005

TEXANS UPDATE

Bad news first. When I was in Beaumont I got to talk with a cousin of mine who works for Entergy, the electric company scrambling to get power back on in and around New Orleans. He's in charge of a group of guys doing the repairs and reported to me that looters had stolen a van of theirs and had made the repair efforts next to impossible in New Orleans proper because of attacks on Entergy's offices. A bad element had been shooting at their offices and repair crews in a fight for food and other supplies or valuables in the office buildings or repair vehicles. As of this past weekend (9.10,11.05) repair crews were being escorted by armed guardsmen and were still unable to get to some parts of New Orleans due to the imminent threat to their lives. The very people Entergy is trying to help, the poorest of New Orleans, are thought to be the very people making that help impossible to render.

More sad news. This same cousin, a heavily armed NRA card carrier and second amendment enthusiast, went to the gun range this weekend with a friend from the FBI. This agent reports that the FBI has snipers in and around New Orleans, on rooftops, and has been "picking off" looters and other criminals. The FBI, he says, will not release their "kill count" to the media but claims "it is very high."

GREAT NEWS! Brian and I visited his brother Chris while in the Houston area. Chris is a pastor at Ecclesia (a church in Houston) and is personally housing 20 volunteers from Erwin McManus' church Mosaic in Pasadena, California. These volunteers are primarily twenty-somethings giving their time and skills to the care of evacuees in Houston: visiting the Astro Dome, distributing food and clothing, organizing donated items at a warehouse etc, through Ecclesia. And sleeping on Chris' floor.

Chris reports that the main need at this point is not housing, since the bulk of evacuees relocated to Texas are already being absorbed by Church families taking them in or finding them apartments or other suitable housing. The greatest need is funding for these efforts. A family in Houston who has decided to put an evacuee family in an apartment will eventually need help paying that rent since evacuees are believed to be displaced for at least a year in some cases. Churches like Ecclesia are also operating on budgets and tithes not designed for such massive relief endeavors like this. They are buying supplies and paying staff at a pace most churches could not sustain without outside financial help of some kind. Any church hit by the storm or involved in caring for those affected by it now needs churches in the rest of the US and the world to help them financially. Findhelter.org is working on ways to connect such churches in need with churches willing to give assistance. I'll keep you posted.

Central Baptist church in Bryan/College Station, TX, where I played Friday night (9.9.05) has placed approximately 300 people so far and reports that city officials enlisted the help of local churches like theirs in finding homes for displaced families. Now there's a welcomed change: The government asking us to do our job instead of us asking the government to do it for us. Hope that trend sticks when the debris clears.

So there's news from the front-lines of the Texas relief efforts.

18 Comments:

Blogger Kathryn said...

wow that's a lot of news!

I can't believe that people are shooting at their rescuers/repairers/helpers. Its just mind boggling.

guns. . don't get this Canadian girl started on gun control or 'rights to bear arms'. . that whole 'thing' is something else. I could say that Canada is much safer because its citizens don't have the right to bear arms. . but who am i kidding? there are guns in this country, my ignorance precludes me from giving stats. I guess its not something i think about?!

That's cool that you mention Erwin McManus' church. . . I'm reading "The Barbarian Way" at the moment. I like what he says, it reminds me a lot of primitive Salvation Army words and deeds.

9/13/2005  
Blogger Shaun Groves said...

I have a question for the Salvation Army shlogger:

Salvation Army is a denomination (something I truly didn't know until a couple years ago) so how does it's relief efforts tie into the larger denomination? In other words, is the work being done by the Salvation Army (ringing bells outside stores at christmas, feeding and clothing people in Louisiana etc) supported by every Salvation Army church or do these efforts rely heavily or entirely on donations from individuals? Is the work of the SA part of the churches that bear it's name? To what degree?

Curious.

9/13/2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Alright, I'm going to say something controversial - I think it's good that the FBI is picking off many of the looters. Sad, yes, but not necessarily bad (as long as they are just picking off people who are raping, murdering, etc). I normally would not support this type of action, but if something is not done, help will never be brought because people providing the help are in fear for their lives (as you mentioned).
So, is my attitude not Christ-like? I don't know...

9/13/2005  
Blogger Amy said...

There are supposed to be evacuees arriving in my area of California this week. I know a lot of families from my church are planning on housing families, but are evacuees being sent to other locations in the states? I'm going to Red Cross training tonight and I hope to be able to help out at the convention center when they come.

9/13/2005  
Blogger Shaun Groves said...

Evacuees are being sent numerous places. I don't have a complete list of locations but I know of evacuees being housed in Birmingham, Dallas, Houston, Florida, the Carolinas and Tennessee - just to name a few.

Anonymous, I'm not answering your moral question regarding the FBI shooting people. Id' rather that become a conversation here rather than a monologue by me. But I do know that your views in the future, if you participate in that discussion, will be more readily welcomed by me at least if you don't post as "anonymous". Probably not intention cowardice on your part but it does make comments feel like drive-bys. Just drop some initials or a web site link or something so we feel like a person has arrived willing to discuss with us instead of an intellectual gangster pumping some lead into our world-view and not sticking around for the clean-up. Fair enough?

So, to anonymous' question...anybody want to chime in with a thought on the morality of FBI snipers killing looters and other criminals in New Orleans?

SG

9/13/2005  
Blogger GrovesFan said...

IMHO the FBI is wrong. I firmly believe in justice and that we need to be protected and relief workers need to be safe in order to do their jobs. However to say that it's OK as long as "they're picking off rapists, murderers" makes no sense. A crime is a crime and a sin is a sin. We have varying degrees of punishment for crimes, but God says sin is sin. BOTH sides of this situation are sinning, plain and simple. Who starts it doesn't make a difference. There is a process involved in law here in our country. It's not always perfect of course. The saying that innocent until proven guilty means that EVERYONE is entitled to a trial by a jury of their peers. Not a jury of FBI agents, etc. That makes those agents and anyone else participating in this type of behavior, vigilantes, not lawmen. Of course, if they are fired upon first or there's an crime taking place at that moment, they must respond, but the first response should NOT be gunshots. Snipers are not a first response in any case. Contrary to what tv portrays, 95+% of law enforcement personnel (all branches, divisions and levels) have NEVER drawn their weapon in the line of duty, for any reason, much less taken a life. This is a sad day for America for many reasons. This is a big one.

Beth

9/13/2005  
Blogger Shaun Groves said...

Wow, Beth. I guess your answer surprised me because of your support of some wars and for the death penalty. Of course your point about our legal system insuring folks citizens accused that they'll get a trial by their peers clarifies for me what you see as the difference between war killing, death penalty killing, and this killing in New Orleans. Hadn't thought of it quite that way yet.

Anyone else? Is Beth right? Is the use of snipers denying rights to "sinners"? Or is it swift justice, trial by FBI and therefore wrong? Or is it another necessary preemptive strike on the part of our government against "evil doers"? Whatcha think?

I'm always being lectured that war is right if it protects innocent people and our freedoms and way of life. Is that true when the war is against our own countrymen?

SG

9/13/2005  
Blogger GrovesFan said...

I guess I don't see what's going on in the South right now as a "war" as I'd define it. I'm not debating what war is at this time either. It's people taking advantage of others during a crisis. Looting is stealing, plain and simple. People "justify" it by saying they're taking what they need to survive, but the last time I checked, tvs, stereos, computers, electronics, and the like are never neccessary for survival. Looting that took place right after Katrina that was for food and water, diapers, baby food, was probably a desperate effort by people to get what they need and for the most part, the police overlooked it. It's understandable, but not right either. For anyone to take the opportunity to rape or murder another, and in any way blame the hurricane, is insane. Hurricanes don't breed rapists or murderers. They are merely taking advantage of the fact that law enforcement personnel are themselves overwhelmed and often traumatized themselves to properly react. These people would do this anyway. Try spending EVERY HOUR OF EVERY DAY since the hurricane hit on duty and often busy milling through buildings and debrie looking for and finding dead bodies by the hundreds, all the while knowing that you too are homeless, penniless, hungry, exhausted, may have family members missing or dead, etc. Some have taken their own lives because they couldn't cope. However, this also does not justify "swift justice" or vigilanteeism by law enforcement either.

This is an opportunity straight from God for the church to respond just as Christ would. It is not our job to judge right now, but to serve. I'll leave the judgement to God as I would have to cast the first stone right at myself if I started that.

Beth

9/13/2005  
Blogger Mark said...

First of all, I just found your blog the other day, been a fan since CD 1 and look forward to hanging out around here more.

Looting is defined by law as taking non essentials during a crisis. So taking food, water, etc. in a situation like this is not looting and is perfectly legal according to federal law. You are expected to pay once the disaster has passed, however.

This is something I learned myself during the last couple weeks.

Part of me says the FBI is right to be sniping criminals in NO right now. We need to get control of the situation and this seems more and more like the only way to do it.

Part of me says that it's too much force. While I have no problem with the death penalty, I also have no problem with the appeals because I don't want the government to kill the wrong person. Not knowing the criteria used by the FBI in this case makes me nervous about giving it my full approval.

I certainly don't consider this murder. The government's job is to protect its citizens. While this certainly isn't a war, I'd say this falls under protecting people from theives and murders. Now if you and I were to go down there to kill the looters ourselves, that would be murder because we don't have a God given mandate to protect citizens.

9/13/2005  
Blogger Shaun Groves said...

Well thought out Mark. Everyone agree? Anyone here think this is wrong?

9/13/2005  
Blogger Kathryn said...

To satisfy your curiosity, Shaun. I can link you up with official websites. There are FAQs on the sites, along with much more.

International S.A. :
www1.salvationarmy.org/

United States:
www.salvationarmyusa.org

Canada and Bermuda:
www.salvationarmy.ca

U.S.A Southern Territory:
www.uss.salvationarmy.org

You can check those out to get information.

To answer your questions. . money we collect from the public helps in public ministry. It does not get siphoned into the 'church' *we call them corps*

The public donations fund the lion's share of the Christmas Appeal (clothing, food, toys, etc), but each corps does contribute a portion of its budget and 'personpower' to the Christmas Appeal (which is a big operation and is conducted in conjunction with other local charitable organizations in each locale). There are other appeals. .
Harvest Ingathering, the World Missions Appeals, Self Denial, etc. We have 'campaigns' in which S.A. soldiers and corps attenders are invited to give over and above their normal tithe to give a push for certain needs at certain times, needs are determined by National and International HQ. The public can donate at any time of the year to the S.A. online, at the corps (churches), of course at the 'kettles'.

The corps (churches) house 'family services' and day care centres, etc. within their facilities, from which various types of assistance are provided to those who need it. The corps' tithes can be directed by each giver to Family Services, World Wide Missions, corps upkeep, youth work, etc. The tither (soldier/adherent) can earmark their tithe and gifts however they choose. Public donations are NOT used in the operation of the corps. . the corps are self sufficient. However the corps may give towards the public ministry funding. Corps members are also strongly encouraged to roll up their sleeves to assist in the Army's many avenues of service.

All monies collected are transferred to Divisional, then Territorial and International Headquarters. Its a well oiled machine, for the most part. Super organized.

The 'church' part of the army and the 'service part' are largely separate, which i personally think is unfortunate, in that its created a rift between the average 'soldier' and the person on the street in need. Soldiers can tend to think "Oh, that's the officer's job to deal with them, so i don't need to get involved." However i know many fine soldiers who do volunteer and get involved - because there is so much to do.

The S.A. orphanages, hostels, drop in centres, day care centres, Family Services, young mother's homes, senior's homes, halfway houses, job retraining facilities, missing persons location service, etc. . are run by officers (pastors assigned by the S.A. to a particular 'command') There are also paid workers i.e. social workers, counselors, lawyers, etc. (who may not belong to the S.A. church) and volunteers who may or may not belong to the S.A.

Hope that answers your questions?!

9/13/2005  
Blogger Kathryn said...

wow, Mark's comments. Geez. . i dunno what's the right thing to say about all of that? Of course order must be kept. . but couldn't the shooters just be wounded and apprehended and arrested? Must they be killed? I'm sure that there are extenutating circumstances, in which government protectors are placed in 'kill or be killed' situations. Who I am to say how it goes down? i'm not there.

I'm still trying to wrap my head around the whole snipers/government snipers thing.

9/13/2005  
Blogger Mark said...

I think that's one of the biggest things for me. I'm not there. I don't have all the facts. It's hard to make a ruling without knowing everything.

Of course, that doesn't stop journalists. :)

9/13/2005  
Blogger Dave Haupert said...

I saw the Mayor of NO saying something early on that the drug addicts are starting to go crazy because they can't get their drugs. That is why they were looting hospitals looking for medications and then gun shops to find more persuasive ways to get what they felt they needed. I kinda felt like it was a poor excuse for crime, but at least it gives it some perspective.

For me, the bigger surprise is that the FBI is doing sniping- I thought they were mostly detectives and investigative work, and the other areas of goverment handled things like this- secret service, army/marines, etc.

9/14/2005  
Anonymous Kris said...

Why can't we wound people and have the courts take care of it later? I think the answer is that there are not sufficient facilities to give each of the perpetrators a trial by jury and just sentence. Every judge would probably be working for the next six years non stop to get everyone tried and convicted. Not to mention the fact that there aren't enough citizens to go around for 1000+ trials.
What I'm trying to say is that our laws were written and have largely been kept under the presumption that we live in a civilised society. What makes our judiciail system work is the ability to maintain the laws, and thus maintain the status quo. When that status, however, is changed, our way of doing things also must change in order to maintain peace and saftey. While it isn't ideal, neither is a gigantic flood, raping, murders etc.

9/14/2005  
Blogger Shaun Groves said...

My understanding, dave, is that these snipers in question are part of the FBI's hostage negotiation team.

9/14/2005  
Blogger Shaun Groves said...

It's interesting to me now, looking back, that the only thing we've commented on so far are the snipers. Probably my doing. I lead things that way. Any thoughts on the rest of it?

9/15/2005  
Blogger GrovesFan said...

I know that the Salvation Army is a denomination only because the lead pastor called to our church in England used to belong to SA. He and his wife both were very heavily involved as were their families. Later on as he became more interested in digging deeper into the Bible, he was lead away from that organization and headed to the Baptist church (spurred on by finding the truth (his words, not mine)). Baptists are a growing denomination in the UK. He served in the Army, then worked as a youth pastor in a church while attending Spurgeon Seminary fulltime. This man is not only a very brilliant teacher, but a very gifted speaker and he's got a real heart for the UK's lost. He is saddened by state sponsored religion, the fact that the vast majority of people under 60 do not attend church anywhere, or claim to really have a faith other than the official "Church of England" christen the babies and bury the dead philosophy. "If you're a good Englishman and love the Queen, you'll go to heaven." I realize there are many wonderful Christians there as there are in other places, but the general public have always placed much more faith in the monarchy than God. That's changing slowly as the monarchy seems to do less and earn more, and live lives of pure oppulance while others barely make it. Nothing's changed in thousands of years there as far as that goes. Many UK citizens felt that when the Queen Mother died, the last great one had passed. She was a woman of great faith and genuine love for God.

We were blessed to be in a very involved and very evangelical, missions oriented church. In a nation where the government is expected to provide EVERYTHING for it's citizens, the church has even less impact there when trying to help others. I never really saw it in action or ever heard it mentioned in that capacity. I know very little about the Salvation Army's theology or doctrine and have never really viewed them as a church organization, but rather a relief and community help organization with "a little gospel" on the side. Maybe that's my fault as I've never really looked into it.

Sorry for rambling and getting off topic (my Concerta hasn't kicked in yet!). BTW, I'm not criticizing the SA in any way, just telling what little I know.

Beth

9/15/2005  

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