Saturday, August 20, 2016

Opportunities abound

An article by Lex Talamo in The Shreveport Times tells how our church extended a helping hand for some displaced youth during last week’s flooding down south. At the end of this post I put a link to the actual article (pop-up ads made it a little difficult to get to, so I copied some excerpts here to make it easier to read).

Juvenile flood victims stunned by Caddo Parish hospitality


Saturday morning, Caddo Juvenile Service Administrator Ted Cox got a telephone call from AMIKids Acadiana, a group home for teen boys. Thirty-five juvenile offenders in the custody of the Office of Juvenile Justice needed immediate placement; could Caddo Parish Juvenile Services help?

Cox called staff at Broadmoor Baptist Church at 4110 Youree Drive, who agreed to provide their gymnasium as an emergency shelter.

Isaac Williams, executive director of AMIKids Acadiana, said the sudden severity of the flooding caught the organization “off balance.”

An unexpected welcome

“On Saturday, we were watching the rain but we didn’t feel threatened. Sunday, the water came in so fast,” Williams said. “We just wanted a safe place to stay. We never expected to be received as well as we were.”

The youth arrived the next evening to a welcome their director said he never could have expected. Williams said the response from the Shreveport community was “unbelievable.”

“They had taken the time to make up the 50 cots [cots, bedding, and “hospitality bags” were provided by the local Red Cross chapter] and give it a home touch. It’s amazing what Broadmoor Baptist Church did for us,” Williams said.

“That entire afternoon, people were buying supplies,” Cox said. “One lady even went around and put chocolates on every pillow to make them feel welcome. They really opened their arms.”

Broadmoor Baptist Church members and staff partnered with Broadmoor Methodist Church to help keep the youth engaged once they arrived. Staff chaperones watched while the youth played basketball in the morning at Broadmoor Methodist and then transferred to Broadmoor Baptist’s second floor youth department to play pingpong and video games or watch movies.

One Broadmoor Baptist church member bought enough pizza to feed all 35 teens. Another paid for the boys to attend a movie in the community, while seven more chaperoned the outing.

Rev. Tom Harrison of Broadmoor Baptist Church said the congregation saw the youths’ situation as an opportunity to extend God’s love to those in need.

“The Word of God tells us to take care of our neighbors,” Harrison said. “Our pastor has asked everyone to be a missionary, and this gave them an opportunity to be missionaries in their own city. People were crazy enthusiastic to help.”

A lasting impact

The youth returned to their group home on Wednesday, after the waters had receded. Cox said almost every young man thanked him and shook his hand before leaving. Flood waters had reached the home’s threshold without creating any lasting damage, Williams said. The experience, however, made an impact on several of the youth.

“A lot of people wouldn’t have wanted to help out juveniles who had gotten in trouble. These people at Broadmoor treated us as somebody.”

The church members did more than provide necessary care and shelter in a time of crisis, Williams added. They also sent the message to these youth that someone in the wider world cares about them.

“We asked for help, and these people showed us tremendous love,” Williams said. “I hope everyone at Broadmoor Baptist knows they made a difference in our youths’ lives for that short amount of time that will have a lasting impact.”

1 comment:

Leslie Bishop said...

I have no doubt the young men will always remember the kindnesses. That's the kind of seed that grows within. I love it.