Mike Cope's blog

Friday, September 09, 2005

I received an e-mail from Wayne Barnard this morning that inspired me. I asked his permission to share it. The time is 11:26 p.m., and this may not be very coherent (I’ve only slept 2 hours during the past 55 hours), but I must reflect my thoughts as I conclude two of the most significant experiences with our students. I met more than thirty of our students yesterday at 8:00 a.m., along with Val Mascari, 6 of our WFF gentlemen, Mark Lewis, Charla Farrell, and Steve Sargent. We cleaned for four and one-half hours until the old Wal-Mart Store was ready to receive potential displaced persons. My heart was warmed as I worked alongside students and staff, sweeping, vacuuming, mopping, and wiping down walls. We were quite the team, and I was blessed by the surprise and amazement of the Wal-mart regional manager when he came to the store at 12:00 noon and saw the sudden transformation. I also swelled with pride as Abilene officials marveled at the energy, spirit, and fortitude of our students. Last night, Todd Ormsby, my son (Colin), and I drove to Lake Cisco Christian Camp to deliver a big-screen TV and 4 other TVs and DVD players donated by Best Buy and Circuit City. (Earlier that evening, Mimi and I had spent almost two and one-half hours with managers of both stores as they so willingly donated TVs, DVD and VCR players, and movies.) We set up the big-screen and one DVD player in the larger dining room for the displaced families (54 persons) to enjoy watching movies. We placed a smaller TV and DVD player in each of the cabins so that families could watch movies at night after it was dark. Todd and Colin returned home at about 11:00 p.m. and I remained at the camp to receive the families who traveled by bus from Baton Rouge (a 14 hour trip). The first bus arrived at 3:15 a.m. The people were exhausted, but very thankful to be out of the chaos of Louisiana. We immediately met their physical needs by feeding them, caring for their illnesses, and providing them with brand new pajamas and underwear. Mark Lewis, Steve Rowlands, Jeff Arrington, and 4 of our students (Collin Packer, Chris Field, Clint Askins, and Jeremy Webb) arrived at 4:15 a.m. before the second bus arrived. They were quite helpful as we continued to meet the needs of these additional families. After we got everyone to bed at about 5:30 a.m., we stayed up drinking coffee and planning our processes for the day. Jeff Arrington and three of our students left early for a 9:30 a.m. class. Jeremy stayed to help out. Families started waking up and coming to the dining hall for breakfast at about 8:30 a.m. Our MFI and Clinical Counseling Graduate students arrived for training with Bob McKelvain as we implemented our plan for interviewing our guests and assessing their needs. By 10:00 a.m., 22 of our finest undergraduate students arrived on the ACU bus to help play with and take care of the children while others of us interviewed their parents and began helping families with their plans and expectations. At one point during the morning, Bob stopped me and asked if I had noticed what was happening. We stood in the middle of the dining room and marveled at our students playing with children, holding children, changing diapers, sweeping floors, serving drinks and food to families, interviewing parents, showing concern for peoples’ experience, and ministering God’s grace and mercy to a tired and devastated people. All I could do was weep. It was an overwhelming experience that I was missing because I was equally caught up in the sheer pleasure of being used by God to bless these amazing people. Their stories of survival, loss, and triumph were astounding. Their faith and hope were riveting. I was blessed beyond measure. Our students were literally connecting with people, spirit to spirit. I wish you could have been there. I wish you could have witnessed this awe-inspiring scene. The day only got better as we developed close relationships by listening to stories and connecting with deep and contradictory feelings of devastation and victory. What blessed me most was the faith and resiliency of these worn-out people. Fathers who pulled their families to safety in small boats; mothers who lovingly cared for their children on cold floors, in crowded shelters, and on long, exhausting bus rides; and children who trustfully followed their parents on a bus to the little West Texas town of Cisco. One of my greatest blessings was holding little two-year old Bernard both early Thursday morning when he got off the bus crying, and later Thursday morning when he awoke crying. Both times, I was warmed by his quieted soul snuggled safely on my chest as he slept in peace. Providing him with such safety and security was absolutely overwhelming. I could only imagine the complete and amazing love of God for us all as He holds us in the safety of His arms, close to His breast. The day ended with our new friends going off once again to their cabins to sleep in soft and safe beds. As I loaded the ACU bus with our wonderful students, I was struck by our coexisting exhaustion and blessing. We were spent, but we were full. God has truly been gracious to us in our experience today. Tomorrow I will wake up a different person. I’m not certain what may lie ahead for my new friends, but I know that I have been touched by God’s grace, and I am not the same. Lord, please bless my friends with your presence as they sleep. May their thoughts be protected from the devastation of their recent memories, and may their hearts be filled with all that is strong, so that they make awake tomorrow with a deep resolve because of your promise!


  • Those who only see the hurricane as God's judgement on an evil city need to consider Jesus' words:

    "Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them — do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish..."

    I need some repentance myself...


    By Blogger mchristophoros, at 9/09/2005 06:47:00 AM  

  • Mike - thanks to you and Wayne both for sharing this story. As stated in your last post, this is a prime example of the church as "a story-formed, story-living people." The fact that these students "developed close relationships by listening to stories and connecting with deep and contradictory feelings of devastation and victory" was probably the biggest gift they had to give. I anxiously await the day we really begin to understand how important our stories are and we become willing to both tell them and listen to those of others with no condemnation. Maybe that day is here. Who knows? Time will tell whether we speak His truth or put our masks back on.

    By Blogger Candy, at 9/09/2005 07:35:00 AM  

  • Mike--All I can say is "WOW!" What a testimony. No classroom will ever be as beneficial as what those kids experienced there at the camp. I am thankful they were willing to just listen to the stories. I saw the story on the news, but it did not come close to giving the picture Wayne painted for us. Thanks so much to you both for sharing. The people of Louisiana and the other states continue to be lifted up in prayer.
    Thanks again.

    By Blogger Nancy Kirk, at 9/09/2005 07:55:00 AM  

  • Wow - thank you.

    By Blogger Kate, at 9/09/2005 08:09:00 AM  

  • Mike and Wayne, Thank you so much for sharing this personal view. It is so hard to wrap our arms around what each of these survivors has experienced. I am so thankful that Jesus was in Cisco to welcome them-through each of you. Thank you for being His hands and feet. May we all get to experience that exhausted fullness of serving our neighbors.

    By Blogger songbirdintl, at 9/09/2005 08:25:00 AM  

  • Yet again, my ACU pride has soared. I couldn't be more prouder. =) I knew that our students would no doubt do something magnificent and be blessings to many others during this difficult time. Thank you, Wayne and Mike, for sharing this inspiring and encouraging story. ~Debbie Leong-Villarreal

    By Blogger Malaysian Debster, at 9/09/2005 09:19:00 AM  

  • Thank you so much for sharing this inspiring and heart-warming story! I,too, am proud to be an ACU Alumni!

    By Blogger Leah, at 9/09/2005 09:33:00 AM  

  • Hats off to Wayne and all his team who gave of themselves! I am reminded of one of my favorite verses. 1 Cor. 14:33, "God is not the author of confusion, but of peace."

    If you want to read about a really unbelievable account from a 34 doctor with one of the nine Disaster Medical Assistance Team (DMAT) medical groups set up at New Orleans Airport go to:


    He is an emergency room physician in Dallas, Texas, and joined a Dallas-based DMAT just two months ago. What a life-changing experience for him!

    By Blogger Michelle, at 9/09/2005 12:43:00 PM  

  • We were priviledged to attend church at Cornerstone Baptist Church on Sunday. The sermon focused around storms in scripture; some storms were acts of nature that come because we live in a fallen world, some are the judgment of God. No one knows the mind of God or exactly what He is doing with the happenings going on around us. But in Pastor's conclusion he used the same segment of scripture that Michael referred to and came to the same conclusion - the need for all of us to repent. I don't want to waste to much of my valuable, God-given life trying to decide how God is punishing others instead of asking God to reveal the areas of my own heart that are evil and are in need of repentance.

    I could hardly read Wayne's email through my tears of gratitude for God's goodness and for the quality of leadership these ACU students will bring to the church now and in the future.

    By Blogger monniecoco, at 9/09/2005 01:02:00 PM  

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    By Blogger L, at 9/09/2005 02:39:00 PM  

  • Mike, today's entry really blessed me. Thank you so much for sharing Wayne's email. May our LORD graciously bless those involved in the Cisco shelter/camp.

    I read this early in the morning and like Monnie, could hardly read the narrative through streams of tears. I needed the day to reflect, pray, give thanks, and beg for comfort for all involved in the wreakage of Katrina's fury.

    While reading Wayne's email I couldn't help wondering what young people the naysayers know that cause them to constantly harp that this new generation is totally lost. Wouldn't it be wonderful if they could meet these 20+ students from ACU?

    Thank You, LORD, for these young ones of yours from ACU that have given so much of themselves while reflecting Your love for this group of evacuees.

    By Blogger Kathy, at 9/09/2005 07:10:00 PM  

  • I love that man and his heart...and I love working and living in a place that seeks to do God's will through service and relationships...what a blessing!!

    Thanks for sharing...

    By Blogger Katherine, at 9/10/2005 01:59:00 PM  

  • nice informative post .... keep it up...

    By Blogger Me, at 9/10/2005 02:44:00 PM  

  • So encouraging! I agree with my brother-in-law, FAJITA, who blogged last week about Katrina saving the church. Is God working through this? CERTAINLY! Look around us. It's incredible to see people pulling together and pouring out their lives to benefit others. Praise God!

    By Blogger Brandon Scott, at 9/10/2005 06:02:00 PM  

  • What Would Jesus Do

    When the struggle to stay alive
    As the storms of life blow through
    And everything’s been lost
    What would Jesus Do?

    When hope and courage wane
    And the fight is gone from you
    Devastation all around
    What would Jesus Do?

    When all you see is suffering
    And your heart is bleeding blue
    When prayers are not enough
    What would Jesus Do?

    When anger cries out loud
    And blame is leveled too
    When some just want to rant
    What would Jesus Do?

    He’d open up His heart
    And help His children through
    So they could regain hope
    That’s what He would Do!

    He’s hug them with His love
    And say, “I believe in you”
    Then He’s start the healing
    That’s what He would Do!

    He would comfort the suffering
    Lift their hearts so blue
    And give them to the Father
    That’s what He would Do!

    He’d open people’s hearts
    Not play the blame game too
    But offer hope and love
    That’s what my Jesus would Do!

    September 7, 2005 © Jim Ness


    I hear so much talk about “God’s Wrath” on the city of New Orleans, which just seems to stir controversy, which makes me wonder why the rest of us missed “God’s Wrath”. When I see Christians and Christian leaders going out of their way to help, this is what I see Jesus doing. People are seeing love on display and this influences people for Jesus more than anything. May the Father give them the strength to continue to give with the heart of the Father, sharing hope and healing and love.

    By Blogger Jim, at 9/11/2005 09:24:00 PM  

  • Loving this post!!
    Romans 8:28 'ALL things for good..''

    By Blogger WES, at 9/20/2005 09:44:00 AM  

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