In September of 2005, I picked up the phone at the suggestion of Hugh Hewitt on his radio show and I called a church in Biloxi, MS. It was answered by Gary Taylor and he and I began a conversation that started a friendship–that led to a large series of efforts to help rebuild and restore the Gulf Coast. Since then, I set up partnerships between Bethel Lutheran Church in Biloxi, Beauvoir United Methodist Church and my home church, Westlake Lutheran Church. Together with California Lutheran University, my alma mater, we have sent two sets of students and countless numbers of supplies–including a donation of 35,000 pounds of food from Fiore di Pasta in Fresno, CA to the area. We have worked hard to help the good people of Biloxi rebuild. My commitment was highlighted by my trip to Biloxi in September of 06 with my friends and fellow parishioners, Joe Bulock and Ray Chodd. We were there merely three days–but we learned a lot.
One of the people we met on that trip was Judy Bultman. She is the wife of Pastor Jerry Bultman of Bethel Lutheran Church and she is also the Lutheran Disaster Relief Coordinator for the Biloxi Gulf Coast area. Tonight, when I spoke to her–she was here in California. She’s on a two week tour of the west coast and it is her first time ever west of the Mississippi River. In September, we set into motion events that would bring her here to talk about what is happening on the Gulf Coast, to raise funds and to talk about the face of God in areas of such need today. She is a powerful speaker, a dynamo with boundless energy and a deep and abiding faith in Christ.
What knocks me out is that ultimately, she’s here because of me. I put the ripple in the water and we’ve begun something powerful. Many, many people have joined me and been instrumental in getting supplies, creating awareness and ultimately going to Biloxi to help rebuild. I too will go back–though I am not sure when.
I have been reminded by my own Pastor and by some recent reading–that love is not a noun. It’s not an emotion. Love is a choice–and it is action. Biloxi needs a lot of love.