NEW ORLEANS (BP)–Early Saturday morning, Sept. 6, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary announced that power had been restored to all campus housing units. The news, delivered via text message and the Internet, cleared the way for all members of the seminary family to return to campus.
“It is time for all NOBTS saints to make plans for marching in,” NOBTS President Chuck Kelley wrote on the seminary’s website. “We had a great day on campus today. As of 7 a.m. Saturday morning, all students, staff, and faculty, including those in temporary housing, are invited to return at your convenience.”
Returning students encountered a campus with little evidence of a storm. The operations staff had cleared much of the debris and repaired the slight roof damage on campus buildings. The only visible signs of the storm were two broken shutters on Leavell Chapel and a pile of tree limbs and trunks near the back of campus.
As residents returned Saturday and Sunday, impromptu meetings began throughout campus. Neighbors greeted returning neighbors and shared their evacuation experiences.
The mood of returning residents was tempered by the presence of Hurricane Ike in the Caribbean. Kelley began working to reassure campus residents. Kelley’s first online post regarding Ike came Sunday, Sept. 7.
“Hurricane Ike appears to be moving on a track farther and farther to the west of New Orleans. It is still too early to know with certainty, but most models now show it making landfall south and west of Houston, Texas,” Kelley wrote. “We will continue watching it carefully.”
By Monday, the National Weather Service had moved the official forecast track of Hurricane Ike well south of Houston.
In his second and last post regarding Ike, Kelley called on students to pray for people in Louisiana, South Florida, Haiti, Cuba and Texas who have been affected by tropical storms this year and the ones who are facing an impending evacuation. Kelley also encouraged students to trust God even in the midst of trials.
“It is in the fire of life that God does most of the shaping of our souls. Jeremiah tells us that God is like a potter shaping and reshaping our lives (Jeremiah 18:1-10),” Kelley wrote. “It is the choice of trust in the fire of doubt that roots the habit of trust in our soul.
“The touch of our Potter can feel heavy and rough at times, but He assures us the vessel that emerges will be beautiful (Psalm 143),” Kelley wrote.
Seminary officials moved computer operations back to the main campus on Monday, Sept. 8. Offices reopened and classes restarted Tuesday, Sept. 9.
Gary D. Myers is director of public relations at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.