Sep 282005
Authors: Amber Baker

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, victims and bystanders alike are plagued with questions of "Why?" and "What will we do now?"

Many people of faith are actively seeking ways to help Katrina victims. Individuals and groups are heading to the Gulf Coast to offer their time, energy and resources to aid in any way possible.

Pam Pastore, a nurse practitioner and parishioner of local Saint Paul's Episcopal Church, traveled alone to a town 10 miles outside of New Orleans that wasn't flooded with water, but with evacuees. For the first part of her 10-day stay, she debriefed firefighters and police officers that had just come out of New Orleans.

"The most spectacular thing was their feeling of helplessness. Here they were trying to help … they expected outside help any day – and it never came," Pastore said. "They watched people die; they watched the righteous anger of the people … and nobody ever came."

Pastore also worked in a clinic where she saw 40 evacuees in six hours.

"I hooked them up with a pharmacy that would give them their meds, counseled them, and hugged them and prayed for them … My only goal was to bring Christ's love," she said. "I, as a mere human being, can't fix anything in such a huge catastrophe."

Kevin Rilley and his 15-year-old daughter Alyssa Rilley, members of Foothills Assembly of God, joined up with the founders of a relief ministry called Christ in Action, and spent two weeks in Gulfport, Miss.

During their first week they supplied 10,000 to 15,000 meals a day. They also distributed water, food, clothing and toiletries, and worked with a chainsaw crew to clear away debris from people's houses so they could get inside.

"It was definitely awesome to go down there and help the people in those communities and see the church really work together," said Alyssa Rilley.

Summitview Community Church, Vineyard Christian Fellowship and Grace Place have also organized trips to send people to the Gulf Coast.

On Sept. 19, Summitview Community sent a Greyhound bus that holds 42 people to Slidell, La.

Grace Place's team will head to Gulfport, Miss. on Sept. 23 and plans to return Oct. 1.

Vineyard Christian Fellowship has sent a crew of a dozen people to help with clean up. They plan to continue sending crews for the next several months.

Kyle Swanson is a member of Vineyard Christian Fellowship and sophomore geology major at CSU.

"It's an issue that's heavy on our hearts," he said of the Katrina disaster. "There is a lot of work to be done, and it is not a short term relief effort. We'll be spending a lot of time and energy and resources through the end of the year and perhaps into the next to do what we can to help."

Many other churches have responded by contributing portions of their congregational offerings to buy food, diapers, clothing and other necessities, as well as donating money to organizations such as the Salvation Army and other Katrina relief funds.

Life Spring Covenant Church, Hope Community Fellowship, Spirit of Joy Lutheran Church, Vineyard Christian Fellowship, Grace Place, Foothills Assembly of God, Summitview Community Church, Saint Paul's Episcopal Church and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints are among those donating money, supplies and providing assistance in the devastated areas of the southeastern United States.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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