Monday, December 18, 2006

“You won’t be prepared for what you are about to see”

The words of Jim Sullenger, co-founder of Restoration Point Foundation, as he spoke to me by cell phone when I was exiting I-10 in Gulfport heading in to Pass Christian. I thought back to what my 16 year-old son said after he had been to Bay St. Louis earlier in the summer with his church youth group. He came back to say, “Dad…it looked like it happened yesterday”. In reality it happened 13 months before when I arrived September 22, 2006. Certainly 13 months, millions of federal dollars and all the volunteer help I heard about had made great strides to make Pass Christian whole again. But I was not prepared for what I was about to see…..and to live for the next few weeks.

I drove west on US 90, where the concrete road was heaved into uneven slabs and it made me think there was more to come. And there was. I arrived around dusk and Jim immediately put me to work, putting shelving into Patsy and Leonard’s closets. He didn’t want to assume I had any real construction experience, which I didn’t, so I liked Jim’s approach right off the bat.
I came to appreciate the approach to the ministry of Restoration Point Foundation as the week went on and we talked about the struggles they encounter, the vision they have and their Christian ideals that are lived every day.

I found in Pass Christian the ideals Jesus lived; helping fellow man, especially those without, those in true need, those who seem to be left behind. I also found a wonderful ‘can-do’ attitude. I realized this when I was tossed the keys to a back hoe that had to be driven 10 miles out in the country to a construction site. Never having driven equipment like this, I hopped up, figured out how to start it and drove away behind Jim’s pickup with his flashers going.

That is what so many people I met there are doing. Helping in ways they know and working to figure out ways to help they’ve never done before. Restoration Point is a case in point. Jim and his co-founder Erin are talented and wonderful people, but had they done what Restoration Point is doing? No……..but they saw the need and dived right in. Ask the people of Pass Christian who they have helped if experience is important. No. It’s in the doing for them all that is important.

The people…….the people helping, living it every day touched me in ways I have only imagined. Randy of Randy’s Rangers, Conrad of Lagniappe Church, Jim, Erin. All people who were living their lives elsewhere in the U.S., all immediately touched by the horror of Hurricane Katrina and all going to Mississippi in hopes of helping those less fortunate.

The common theme of these people is “Lord, they need my help, help me find a way to go and stay TO help them.” And He is providing a way. Believe me, it is a day-to-day existence for them, but they are being given the sustenance of a life of Christian living and knowing they are helping. All of these people are Angels on earth. They deserve more than thanks, they deserve all of our help, all of our prayers and our continuing support.

I was in Pass Christian, Mississippi from September 22 through October 2, 2006. I stayed days longer than I had intended, as the need doesn’t diminish, the hopes of better lives for the people increases with the help of people like Jim, Randy, Conrad, and Erin, and, the real and visible Love of Jesus Christ grows each and every day there that groups like Restoration Point Foundation continues their work.

I am helping in some small way, working to assist Restoration Point Foundation in securing new sources of funding, building Restoration Point Foundation through development of an Advisory Board, trying to help them make contacts that strengthens and solidifies their efforts to help all those in true need in Pass Christian. And more importantly, in some small way, reach out and touch more people who can help build a future for those in need who have called Pass Christian home.

- Bo (Charlotte, NC)

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