BATON ROUGE, La. (BP)–God wants to use Louisiana Baptist churches in ways they never imagined in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Rick Warren said Sept. 6.
“I came from California to say don’t miss this opportunity,” Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., told a Louisiana Baptist disaster relief worship rally Tuesday evening at Florida Boulevard Baptist Church in Baton Rouge in which he was among the guest speakers, who also addressed an afternoon session for pastors and others impacted by the unfolding evacuee crisis.
“People will be more open to the Gospel over the next 90 days than they ever have been in their lifetime,” Warren told the evening rally. “God is looking for people to use. If you say, ‘God use me and my church,’ He’ll use you in amazing ways.”
In the days ahead, discouragement could affect those who are impacted by the hurricane, Warren said, encouraging such individuals not to succumb to that temptation.
Citing the Book of Nehemiah, Warren listed four causes of discouragement:
“Some of you have worked really long hours,” Warren said regarding the hurricane’s aftermath. “And some of you are fatigued.”
“You’ve seen physical rubble in this state,” Warren said. “What is the rubble in your life? It’s the trivial things that waste your energy.”
Halfway through the rebuilding process of New Orleans, Warren said people will feel a sense of failure. “Their confidence could then go down the drain and they’ll become discouraged,” he said.
When people are fearful, they tend to criticize, threaten and ridicule others, Warren said. “When you have fatigue, frustration, failure and fear, you then have a good case for discouragement,” he noted.
However, Warren said the Old Testament book also offers four cures for discouragement:
— Rest one’s body
Resting on the Sabbath was so important that God included it as one of the Ten Commandments, Warren noted.
“When you see a state so devastated by a natural disaster, it’s easy to work each day,” he said. “But there will always be people in need and you need a day off.”
— Reorganize one’s life
When Christians become discouraged, Warren said they may be doing the right thing but in the wrong way. The solution is to try a new approach, he said, noting, “I never call anything a failure. I call it an experiment.”
— Remember the Lord
“Remember His goodness, power and closeness in your life,” Warren said.
— Resist the discouragement
Warren pleaded that when people begin to repair their homes or minister to hurricane evacuees, they must not let Satan prevail.
“You don’t have to give in to the devil,” he said. “Great people are just ordinary people who refuse to give in to discouragement.”
Brian Blackwell is a writer with the Baptist Message, newsjournal of the Louisiana Baptist Convention.