10 February 2006

we're in outreach magazine

big thanks to outreach mag's lindy lowry (editor) and keri wyatt kent (writer) for the great article on hurricane relief outreach by churches here in the gulf coast. i honestly mean it when i say that i'd be grateful they ran this as their cover story in their most recent issue even if healing place wasn't in it. it is a report on what we've said a thousand times has one of the best examples of churches being what the church is supposed to be.

here's some excerpts:

The fourth most powerful hurricane recorded in U.S. history, Katrina killed more than 1,300 people, displaced more than 1.3 million residents and exceeded property damages of $125 billion—directly affecting an estimated 3 million people (about one-fourth of the combined populations of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama). No single church or even denomination could’ve met the staggering needs. Instead, churches and ministries worked together to quickly respond not with blame, but with a flood of compassion greater than the 30-foot storm swell recorded in Biloxi, Miss.

Together, churches of different denom-inations and cultures reached out—and are continuing to do so in a way none of them could have possibly done alone.

and here's the part where they interviewed dino rizzo:

“The storm did not discriminate,“ says Dino Rizzo, pastor of Healing Place Church (healingplacechurch.org) in Baton Rouge, La., located about 60 miles west of New Orleans. “It hit affluent areas and poor areas. And the response from the body of Christ has been the same: It knew no difference.“

Historically, Rizzo’s non-denominational church, with six different area campuses, has aided the low-income community. The church often helps the poor, typically serving 100,000 to 150,000 meals a year.

But in response to these disasters, Rizzo says, the whole body of Christ “took on a massive serving towel.“ “This has been the body of Christ’s finest hour,“ he asserts.

More than 450 Louisiana churches were already connected by PRC (Pastor’s Resource Council), a coalition of churches and ministries Rizzo and other pastors had formed several years ago to address social and economic challenges throughout the state.

So as the magnitude of the devastation became clearer, PRC pastors and ministry leaders began calling each other and as a result formed PRC Compassion (prccompassion.org), an official expression of PRC. They also received calls from national ministries and churches across the country as 80 to 90 Baton Rouge churches turned their buildings into shelters. “About 800 to 900 people stayed at Bethany World Prayer Center, which is a very large church, but we also had tiny local churches that would take 20 people,“ Rizzo says. “Some churches had members take people home with them. Others served people with special needs. We were all calling and talking to each other.“

PRC and a large informal network of hundreds of churches and ministries have donated funds and sent volunteers. Some of the money has been used to pay the salaries and operating budgets of those churches, so that when their members return, the pastors will be there to help. “It’s amazing how much gets accomplished when no one cares who gets the credit,“ Rizzo says. “We said, ‘You need to check your ego and your logo at the door.’“

lindy, keri - thanks for the hard work, and for your heart to share this story through your great magazine.

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