Saturday, May 15, 2010


Saturday night and I'm in my usual place, making sure my brain and the powerpoint for tomorrow are both ready. But this time last week, Bunny and I were in New Orleans and were off the "grid." Normally, I'd have written all week about what we experienced, but for some reason I didn't feel that I could adequately do that without some time to look back and reflect on just what we saw and did.

New Orleans got to me.

The picture above was of the Cathedral as the sun was going down. Last Saturday night we happened to be down there on the square as a wedding party came out of the cathedral. The bells rang in joy and the whole effect was almost magical. That area was just stunning, and yet it also was a place where the people who seemed to be "lost" in every sense of the word congregated. There were several fortune tellers at any time, people who dressed weirdly and people had their pictures taken with them, musicians (including one guy on a recorder that was awful), and street people.

Despite the location near to the most beautiful church exterior in NOLA, it seemed to me that the "light of the world" was unplugged. We were down there every single night and at no time did we see any hint of Christian influence and only heard one attempt at "Amazing Grace." Hint - it helps to know the words. The darkness especially in the French Quarter really bothered me while we were there and still does. I was frankly stunned by it and woefully unprepared to "do something" about it. I've wondered since that given the churches in the area, the presence of seminaries including New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary just a few miles away, why groups of musicians couldn't come down every night and sing. Why couldn't compassion teams check on the street people - build relationships with the fortune tellers and the like - why couldn't Jesus be seen down there every day.

If you remember, a while back I wrote about how many children are dying from lack of clean water, from treatable illnesses, and I posed this question: Are you okay with that?

Fair enough? Given we can do something about it?

Well, are we okay with giving the devil the French Quarter in New Orleans?

We (the Church - all of us) have to do better. We have to be great at the Great Commission - everywhere.

Pray for New Orleans. Pray that God would raise up a mighty wave of grace and love that would flood the French Quarter and bring glory to Jesus and people to faith in Him.


  1. Anonymous10:06 AM

    look closer. Christians all over New Orleans including the seminary students and faculty are doing tons to pierce the darkness. It is way more than just a song. What would people see if they walked into your community. Better yet, when you stood in the square in New Orleans what did you do to pierce the darkness or were you just a tourist?

  2. I did. And there may be tons going on in NOLA as a whole, but I didn't see anything in the French Quarter, which to most of the world IS New Orleans. If there is, then it needs to be done in a way where people like me who come there for a break can plug in - if only for an hour, a day, or whatever.

    We do a lot here. We do a lot around the world. But yeah, I suppose in s snapshot visit like ours if you came you might miss it.

    Still, I am not letting anyone off the hook for the darkness all around us in the quarter. Don't belittle music either. Music is language to people. We as a small church have had youth through Mission Lab at NOBTS who went down to the quarter and handed out sandwiches. Someone needs to be there every day, every night. There needs to be a church - a relevant, modern church - IN the Quarter. Maybe it's a coffee house deal/bookstore with a performance space and arts wall. Maybe it's something else. But it's dark down there.

    On your "better yet" comment, I'll confess that I was "just a tourist" and once my wife and I got home we realized we had both missed the opportunities God had placed before us. You can read her blog and see and feel her anguish over one of those we missed.

    I could say that after 4 years without a vacation, I was fried and focused on restoring ourselves through that time. But no excuses satisfy either of us. We failed in our responsibility. Pray for us as we pray for the Christians in NOLA.

    We are planning to go back and take some of our people with us. Soon as we can.