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Faith blossoms in Mobile amid Katrina’s challenges

MOBILE, Ala. (BP)–Mobile resident Tony Sarradet had a lot on his mind the Thursday after Hurricane Katrina struck. The stress of his job as a flood insurance adjuster was compounded by a yard full of debris and a tree blocking his driveway. But a “divine intervention” changed all that.

“I was out here in the street looking at the oak tree, kind of in shock, trying to figure out what I was going to do because I had to go to work,” Sarradet said. “Then two people from your convention pulled up and said, ‘How would you like us to take care of that for you?’ It was like it was meant to be, that they were sent to me.”

A chainsaw/cleanup and recovery team from Alabama’s Autauga Baptist Association was assigned to tackle Sarradet’s yard. While the cleanup crew was hard at work, Bill Morgan, the association’s director of missions and chaplain for the team, struck up a conversation on the porch. “We talked about critical incident stress management,” Morgan said, “which opened up an opportunity to share the plan of salvation.”

Sarradet recounted, “I had turned my back on God and was mad at Him. It’s taken me five years to ask forgiveness for being mad at Him. Bill told me about the Lord and how to ask for forgiveness.”

Sarradet accepted Christ as his Lord and Savior, and it has begun to change both his outlook on his life and the opportunities he’ll have through his profession. “Now I’m a witness for Jesus Christ, and I’ll be more than happy to let everyone know that He’s there with you,” he said.

Meanwhile, Stella Lewis responded to the hurricane with a desire to help. Feeling blessed that she and her family were safe, she stopped by Moffett Road Baptist Church, a staging area for Alabama Baptist disaster relief work and site of a feeding unit, and asked what she could do.

While unloading supplies from a truck, Richard Smith, a disaster relief volunteer from Etowah Baptist Association, noticed Lewis. Moved by her compassion, Smith asked if she was a Christian. “I told him I was not,” Lewis said. “I was brought up in the church but through time had gotten away.”

Smith and Lewis went to the church’s chapel, where he shared the plan of salvation and she found faith in Christ. “I told her we walk by faith and we’re not perfect but the bottom line is I want to see her in heaven,” Smith said.

Lewis spent several days volunteering her time on the feeding line, and now has a new motivation for serving. “When I look back at this tragedy, I’ll also see and remember that out of this tragedy for me came an admission to myself that I had been putting off coming back to Christ,” she said. “Out of this disaster, now I feel like my life is whole.”
Doug Rogers is communications coordinator for the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions.

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