Living the dream

January 29, 2006
Biloxi, MS

The question has come up more and more lately. Time and again as I travel the country and land back in NYC or on the Gulf Coast I am asked, what are you still doing in Mississippi? There are a lot of answers for that particular question, but in the back of my mind I want to say where else would I be? I remember sitting at home after the hurricane hit. It moved me to action. I was thinking, “How dare I sit here while others are suffering? God if you want me to go, have someone call.” I’m sure you can guess the rest of it. Well, that’s how I got here.

What am I still doing in Mississippi? Finishing what we started. Restoring hope and rebuilding lives for starters. ULM is a small band of dedicated workers who are sacrificing their time and resources to preach the Gospel through acts of compassion. If you ask me, it’s simple – We’re livin’ the dream!!! This is real and vital ministry. It’s the type of living where you may actually be saving someone’s life. We are serving people who can never give anything in return. We are not only remodeling their homes, but connecting them with churches and families across the country. These relationships are becoming stronger by the day. We have the opportunity to see how each of us can use our position in life to influence others, ultimately for God’s glory.

When I think of all the time wasted watching television or entering into conversations with no redemptive value and all the time talking about what others are doing, I now realize how ineffective that can be. There is nothing like the ground for your bed, working until every part of your body aches, eating meals in the draftiest tent in three states, but most of all looking into the eyes of some of the neediest people in America and seeing what should have been there all along…hope. Our hearts say thank you to the thousands of volunteers who have come to share the burden of the residents of Mississippi, our fellow Americans and to all those who have given of their resources to aid those in need.

What am I still doing in Mississippi – livin’ the dream!!!!!!!!!!!

New Years in Biloxi

January 1, 2006 Biloxi, MS
Looking back to the last few months, we are seeing a great deal of progress.
Phase 1 Emergency Relief: We are FEMA POD (Point of Distribution) #8. That’s where it all began. Then we expanded the territory to form seven (7) POD’s in four different cities. We brought in more than 950 tractor trailers of supplies to Biloxi, Gulfport, Long Beach, Waveland, Pascagoula, New Orleans, Gretna, and Metairie. Several cook trailers were set up in various locations and our cooks have fed over 400, 000 people hot meals. Counseling Centers were set up in four locations and three medical clinics.

Phase II Clean-up: The ULM Team along with thousands of volunteers cleaned out more than 800 homes and covered over 1100 roofs with blue tarps in 4 different cities. We have held classes for mold remediation as well as working closely with the east Biloxi Relief Center, managed by Councilman Bill Stallworth. We have distributed tents, coats brand new clothing, cleaning supplies and a host of dry goods.

Phase III Remodeling Homes: “One Church – One House” is the ULM nationwide project to help get people back in their homes. We are currently remodeling 16 homes simultaneously and have already gotten more than 30 families back in their homes for Christmas. This is everything from new kitchens and bathrooms to furniture and flooring and windows.

I left the building business for the call of God in 1989. Here I am in 2006 back in the building business. Yes it’s true – it’s like riding a bike. We are working day and night to move people back in their homes as most are still living in tents (Temps in the high 20’s at night) and FEMA trailers. There is still a great urgency to help bring relief to our fellow Americans. These are our people suffering, with little or no media attention. “It’s the worst natural disaster in the history of the USA”, is the quote we keep hearing. Then why do people think everything is OK only 4 months later? The need is greater than ever. We are here and have been here since the beginning. We are determined to see this effort through. ULM is not just another drop and run relief organization. The Team is caring and committed to finish that which was started. My many thanks to the Leadership Team of ULM: Kevin Beck, OH, Bob Appleby, CN, Don Barnett, OH. Andy Surace, NJ, Pat Mederios, NY, Phil Wentzell, AL. And many thanks to Rick Joyner, NC for partnering with us and lending us Nathan Plowman and a host of volunteers sent weekly.

We have work crews lined up to April and more who want to come. What we don’t have is money. We are still looking for churches to sponsor a house. One Church – One House. We are totally remodeling homes, which took on over 7 feet of water and putting them back together for under $12,000. Let’s start the New Year off right by giving your first offering to those who need it the most. Please, help us help them.

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