By Sharon Mager, BCM/D Correspondent
PASADENA, Md.—Lake Shore Baptist Church’s Executive Pastor, Ed Blizzard, was perusing through the North American Mission Board’s “Bridge” website looking for possible mission trips for the church when he found what seemed to be the perfect match.
Blizzard said for several years Lake Shore Church sent teams to help a church work in an impoverished community in Tallahassee; but this year, the church, which is revving up for their own building program, was looking for a ministry where they could hands-on help build a church.
“Imagine my surprise! While looking for new mission opportunities on the NAMB’ “Bridge” website to come across another Lakeshore Baptist that could use a hand rebuilding their church,” Blizzard said.
Lakeshore in Mississippi is just a mile inland and was destroyed in Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Thirty feet of water covered the property. The only salvageable in the debris were the church steeple and pulpit.
Don Elbourne, pastor of Lakeshore Church, Mississippi, said as the congregation gathered on the property where their church building once stood, He asked who had lost a family member or close friend in the storm. “Every hand went up,” he said.
A storage building was donated to Lakeshore Church and the congregation used it as a small meeting place. Rather than quickly rebuild the church, the congregation decided instead to use their resources to rebuild their community.
They helped with roofing, plumbing, wiring, and painting. They also built “Mercy House,” which serves as a community center, and a food and clothing center. It was a life giving resource for years and even now, “Mercy House” opens three days a week and weekly serves up to 300 people.
Elbourne said what has amazed him the most throughout the ministry is the response of volunteers.
“Close to 700 different churches have helped in the past eight years, staying on the church’s property and helping in the community,” Elbourne said.
Lake Shore, Pasadena, will send a team of 19 men and women, including one youth, to hang sheet rock in the sanctuary and entry way, and help with the food and clothing distribution at “Mercy House.”
The Pasadena Church’s team will leave for Mississippi on February 15 and will stay on the church property in what has become a relief workers’ camp site. Blizzard said the church is looking forward to working with their Mississippi namesake church.
For more information, see the rebuild lakeshore website: http://rebuildlakeshore.com.