NEW ORLEANS (BP)–When New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary reopened its doors Oct. 4 after closing for a day while Hurricane Lili passed, some staff and students were greeted with power outages. Nearly a third of the campus was out of electricity during the onslaught of the hurricane, including the campus’ preschool education center, some residences and the Hardin Student Center, which houses many of the administrative offices and Leavell College classrooms.
“Today, we will be known as Bangladesh Baptist Seminary,” NOBTS President Chuck Kelley told staff and faculty assembled in the seminary’s cafeteria. “We are dedicating our day to the Southern Baptist missionaries around the world who constantly live under difficult circumstances to do the Lord’s work.”
Pointing to the ongoing challenges that missionaries face, Kelley reminded the seminarians that God’s mission would still be accomplished despite the difficulties of the day.
Seventeen classes scheduled in the Hardin Student Center were moved to other locations on campus that did have electricity, including the seminary’s Martin Chapel and the cafeteria. The campus’ library and cafeteria, as well as some residences and other offices, did have electrical power, although the Internet server was down.
Meanwhile, staff members met with coworkers in the cafeteria, taking advantage of the time to check on each other’s progress during the storm. The overwhelming response of the crowd was gratitude for how God spared lives and property during the storm.
“God answers prayers,” campus nurse Krystal Richard exclaimed. “To go from a Category 4 to a Category 2 — or even Category 1 — hurricane before hitting land is a definite answer to prayer.”
“I think we’re very fortunate,” agreed Francis Kimmitt, associate dean of Leavell College. “This could have been a Category 4 hurricane in our city [with devastating results].
“The fact that we’re not underwater is a real blessing,” he added. “We could be sitting in a parking lot instead.”
The storms over the past two weeks in Louisiana have served as a reminder that Christians need to be flexible not just on the mission field but wherever God has placed them, Kimmitt said.
“God is trying to teach us in every situation. The question is, are we willing to be taught?” he asked.
Like many seminarians, Vernon Worley, a computer technician for the seminary, traveled away from the city to get away from the storm. He and his wife, Michelle, went to Memphis, Tenn., and stayed at the same hotel they went to the previous week when Tropical Storm Isidore visited the campus.
Though the Worleys had no problems evacuating the city, they learned from his parents in Virginia the best way to come home. “My parents called me on my cell phone when I was driving,” he said. “They had watched the news and told me there was still bad weather over the way I had left the city, so I came home a different way.”
Jennie Heneghan, admissions secretary for the seminary, stayed on campus through the storm, but went to her family’s house afterward since they had electricity.
“We had the opposite problem than most people here,” she said. “Everyone was coming back to campus, and we were leaving.”