News Articles

Post-Katrina journey of faith continues for seminary family

ATLANTA (BP)–Starting over might discourage many seminary students, but Emmanuel Georges, 40, sees new opportunities on the horizon.

Hurricane Katrina ripped many lives apart last August, but Georges, his wife Guirlene and their five children, ages 5-14, took the tragedy in stride as they looked to God for direction. After evacuating the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary campus the morning before Katrina hit, the M.Div. student found many ministry opportunities in the tragedy’s wake.

“This is not the time to have droopy eyes and to start dying over the things you lost,” Georges said. “You’ve got to imagine there are new beginnings. I feel for every single person that hurt there. But that’s the word God gave to my life: Sometimes calamity is also an opportunity for new beginnings.”

The family weathered the storm at a Christian camp in nearby Eunice, La. Georges and other believers there ministered to some of New Orleans poorest residents, including those from the city’s Ninth Ward.

Many of the evacuees were worried about friends and family left behind. “We could not tell them everything would be OK,” Georges said. “But we told them God is in control. There was nothing we could do except to trust in God. If we were to lose everything and still have Him, that’s all we really have anyway.”

The Holy Spirit moved in such a way that even the non-believers took notice.

“They were listening to the Gospel and the Holy Spirit was convicting people,” Georges said. “It was a joy for the Christians there because we had the opportunity to serve. The Christians were crying too, but there was that peace that passes all understanding.”

Putting his faith to the test, Georges and his family packed their bags again and left the shelter after a week. They were en route to New York City where Georges had lived most of his young adult life, but God intervened.

Georges and his family decided to travel through Georgia on the way to New York and stop at the Atlanta-area NOBTS extension center in Decatur. When Georges reached Georgia, he decided to call an old college friend, Thomas Carrenard, to tell him he would be returning home. To Georges’ surprise, Carrenard now lived less than an hour away in Douglasville.

Carrenard, a seminary student himself and a minister to Asian-Americans, invited the Georges family and another seminary couple traveling with the Georges to take refuge. The other couple traveled on after a few days, but the Georges family stayed for three weeks.

“It was a tremendous time of fellowship,” Georges said. “I couldn’t have found a better place. The very short time we spent together in that little reunion served nothing but to build us.”

After the extended stay, Georges called the NOBTS student services office and requested more permanent housing, with a good school district for his children among the priorities.

Mount Vernon Baptist Church in nearby Stockbridge, Ga., contacted Georges soon afterward. The church furnished its vacant parsonage, stocked the house with food and allowed the family’s children to attend their Christian school tuition-free.

Not knowing what the future holds for his family, Georges is trusting God again to provide for their needs. Faith guided Georges from New Orleans to Georgia. Now he waits for God’s further direction.

    About the Author

  • Ronnie McLellan