As we bid farewell to the oh-so picturesque modular buildings that have graced our campus for more years than intended, my mind takes a walk down the wooden, memory lane that runs down the middle of them. I have experienced many wonderful fellowships, Bible studies, and meetings. I recall Dr. Platt announcing to the elders of his resignation in one of the modulars, times of sharing with fellow believers what God has done and continues to do, and small group gatherings with joyous declaration and heart wrenching confession. All of these things and many more have been part of the ministry that has occurred in "Modular City.”
However, one specific memory stands above the others for me from late summer of 2005. This was the time when Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, killed dozens, and displaced tens of thousands. We all watched it unfold on the news. Many prayed and donated money, but I was particularly proud of our leadership because they huddled up and began to live out James 2:17: faith without works is dead. They prayed and dreamed of what we could do at Brook Hills to ease the suffering of those affected by the storm. The plan unfolded that "Modular City" would be transformed to "Refugee City.”
We purchased bunk beds and set up facilities. Student Life, a ministry that was owned and run by one of our members, had just finished up their summer camps, so they provided all the additional beds and mattresses we needed. Eventually a shower trailer and a laundry modular were set up. The church gathered and donated food, water, toiletries, clothing, and whatever else we could think of that would provide some of the basics of comfort that those displaced by the hurricane would be lacking. Then, proper authorities were contacted and we let them know that Brook Hills was open for ministry. And they came, many forlorn, many thankful and joyful to have a place to lay their head, and many angry and sullen at their plight. But whatever their attitude, we knew we were serving the Lord through the shelter of our, then brand new, modular buildings.
Our faith family volunteered their time and energy in numerous ways. Volunteers handled the check-in process, keeping a list of all who were housed here. They answered phone calls of family members searching for their loved ones. Groups gathered offering to pray with these families, eventually leading to bible studies and some families joining our Sunday worship gatherings. Nurses and other health professionals freely gave of their skills to address any medical needs or arrange referrals if needed.
I recall one specific instance in which a woman had traveled from New Orleans with not much more than what she could carry. Unfortunately, she was diabetic and was without her insulin, among so many other necessities. Jim Houston and the rest of the team sprang into action. They arranged for her a ride and an appointment with a healthcare professional that very next morning to secure her insulin and other medical supplies.
Jim remembers this time after Katrina, and the decisions they faced in light of it. “The question was not are we are going to do something, but what?” We just did what we had to do at that time.” He recalls a particular family with several children from New Orleans. “They were so very grateful. If they asked me once, they asked me a dozen times: ‘What can we do to help?’” They just lost everything they had, and they wanted to return the favor they were being shown.
I heard many stories and saw many faces over those few weeks while God's people at Brook Hills were the hands and feet of Jesus. Few of them specifically populate my memory now, close to 20 years later, but I pray that those souls were directed toward their Savior in the process. And so, we bid farewell to “Modular City” and strain toward what lies ahead for future ministry that will occur on that piece of ground.
Bill Christenberry his wife, Kim, have been members at Brook Hills for 29 years and have 9 children.