All over the country, churches will be taking special collections tomorrow to help people in the Gulf Coast area. If you've been reading the comments in this blog for the last few days, you recognize how unclear it is right now as to how we can best help. The situation is just so bad that strategies are murky--though there are several agencies and churches that we know we can trust. Incredible acts of Christian service are going to happen in many places. And we trust that the money given will be used by God to aid the victims. We've identified places in Baton Rouge and Houston where we believe some money can be sent to help immediately. But this is just a beginning. Contributions tomorrow are just a first step. One of our councilman (a Highland elder) left me a message yesterday that 500 evacuees are on their way to Abilene. Surely this is happening all over Texas, as centers in Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio fill up. I received e-mails from members wondering if we could use Highland's gym and our Southside building (where the Freedom Church outreach is about to take place) to house some of the people. We'll be looking into all that. As the mayor (also a Highland elder) said in the paper today, it's uncertain when they arrive or where they'll stay. But the main thing is that we have some hard cash ready immediately and that we stay prepared to offer gifts of cash, housing, and labor as the opportunities arrive. By the way, after what I wrote Wednesday it's a bit funny to read in this morning's paper that Sri Lanka has made a pledge of aid--along with Cuba, Dominica, and Venezuela (despite Pat Robertson!). It's a time for us to give sacrificially. Final note: already I'm hearing reports of ministers announcing that this is the judgment of God on the wickedness of New Orleans. Can someone please tell me how they know that? And if God hasn't explicitly told them that, would they please SHUT UP and get busy with acts of compassion?