This encouraging report and plea for help comes from the Hemley Road church of Christ in Bayou La Batre, Alabama. This very poor congregation was birthed after the devistaton of hurricane Katrina. They began as the Bayou Relief Project and now against all odds they are making steady progress rebuilding lives in their community. Below is the email report as I received it. My wife Carol and I gladly recommend this congregation to you.
Subject: Hemley Road C of C Summer/Fall Report
Greetings from Bayou La Batre, Alabama and the Hemley Road C of C Family!As God has blessed this community here in BLB, we just wanted to share this with you! Here is some of what has been occurring with our every so rapidly growing congregation.
1. 15 kids from the BLB church went to church camp with kids from the El Campo, (TX) church in south Texas. Two of the older teenage boys were baptized.
2. A group of the middle school kids along with their leaders from the White?s Ferry Rd. Church in Monroe, (LA) did a 3 day VBS for the BLB kids and children in their neighborhood in mid-July. With virtually no advertising, more than 75 kids came each day. Since that time, two new families have been attending.
3. Several groups from around the country have been at BLB this summer, working on community relief projects and on the church facilities. The upstairs area of the main building has been re-furbished and showers have been installed downstairs. We are now able to provide beds for 2 dozen volunteers.
4. The church in Ada (OK) sent a youth intern to work with the BLB church for the summer. Tyler is a student at Oklahoma Christian University. He plans to come back for a week in October and again at Christmas.
5. Tragedy struck the BLB church family in early August when the husband of one of the members was swept overboard from a shrimp boat during a storm. The young man was the father of 3 children. Since that time, 13 of his family members have started attending services and are studying the Bible with us on Sunday evenings. Royce and Carol Ogle will be starting our grief support groups facilitation, and plan to meet with the families in September and help us begin an ongoing Grief Share Group. They are now able to meet in the main auditorium ? although there is no air conditioning. We’ve even had a wedding in there this summer.
Mid August our church kids started school. We were blessed to receive school supplies from El Campo C of C in El Campo, TX and a check for uniforms from South 11th and Willis C of C in Abilene, TX. Even with school occurring, we are averaging 50 or so children, with a high of 80 people at church on Wednesday nights. With this growth we have of course been picking up all of these people. We were blessed with a van from Central Church C of C in Ada, OK. With the increased number of trips and vehicles that we have been blessed with, as well as the wretched increase in gas prices, we are really suffering in keeping the vehicles running. If anyone would want to donate money for gas, that would be a blessing. Any money could be sent through the El Campo C of C elders earmarked toward our funding.
With Hurricanes Gustav and Ike, although we were not directly impacted by the storms, we might as well have been. We experienced constant flooding and wind damage to our community. Much of the damage however, has impacted the livelihood of the people down here in BLB. As you know, the fishing industry is what holds BLB and the surrounding areas together. However, the flooding and other damage here has not allowed the industry to get back for several weeks now. People are not able to work, therefore, their day to day pay is null, and they are not able to survive and afford food or anything else. There is still a need for food and personal care and baby items for our NEWLY FINISHED FOOD and PERSONAL CARE PANTRY. Thank you to the churches and friends of HR C of C that have donated thus far for this emergency situation. South 11th and Willis C of C, Hope Christian Church’s Genesis Community, and a friend from Louisiana have all donated food or money for our pantry. If anyone would like to make donations to that, please please please, let someone in your church family know so that we can continue to supply food and personal items to the people of BLB. As a result of our food pantry, PRAISE GOD, that we have 4 new families coming to church. We have created a very welcoming and inviting church family here where we encourage people to come as they are.
The needs of the infant Hemley Rd Church of Christ are many. The entire area is very impoverished and we believe it will be several years before our church is completely self sustaining. We are so very grateful for our many friends and supporters from across the country. And as we say, nearly everyone who spends any time down here falls in love with the BLB people and the mighty work God is doing down here ? both in growing our new church and being a source of the Lord?s light in our community.
Of course, there is an ongoing need for people who can come and preach and teach on the weekends. We pray that at some time God will send a couple who can come here and work in this ripe mission field and be supported by a home church or other independent means. God has blessed us thus far with preachers and teachers and we would like to name them and pray for more like them. They are Martin Fu, Fred Franke, Omar Smith and his wife Sandra, John Ash and his wife Donna, and of course this summer, many of you from Tennessee, Oklahoma, Texas, N. Carolina, and many others from all over have helped with the preaching and teaching. Last night the teenagers had a special treat from Boston, MA. Our very own Manny Carneiro taught our young and impressionable teenagers.
Among the most urgent needs are:
1. The installation of a baptistery ? estimated cost $7000
2. Air conditioning for the main building ? around $12,000
3. Funds for the parking area gravel or asphalt – $5000
4. Air conditioning for house of church property – $4000
If anyone would like to support us for 2009, please contact the elders at the El Campo C of C. Their information is as follows:
El Campo Church of Christ
311 E. Calhoun
El Campo, TX 77437
Please ask your church to pray for the sweet people of Bayou La Batre. Our needs at this time are great. We just replaced the radiator and the water pump on our new van and we have to pay for the insurance on the vehicles and building this upcoming week. Please keep us in your prayers as we try to raise the money to keep up these functioning parts of our rapidly growing church.
I apologize for the length of this message. I will try to do an up to date report from our church on a more frequent basis.
God Bless. Daphne German
Secretary for the HR C of C
Board of Trustee Chairman