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Are We Listening for His Voice in Katrina's Aftermath?

  • Jill Rigby Guest Writer, Baton Rouge, La.
  • Published Sep 21, 2005
Are We Listening for His Voice in Katrina's Aftermath?

Jesus loves the little children,
All the children of the world.
Red and yellow, black and white,
All are precious in His sight.
Jesus loves the little children of the world.

In my 20 plus years of working with children and families I have come to understand that God doesn’t see the differences that we see.

He sees His children, all one in the same. He loves His precious children, all one in the same.

Think how different our world would be if the children of today didn’t see the differences. If they could connect with one another regardless of neighborhood or race. If the children that have, could know the children that don’t. If they could all grow up together. 

A storm named Katrina may be the instrument God uses to connect His precious children.

Growing up in Mississippi, now living in Baton Rouge, I stood by as Katrina turned us upside down and inside out. My heart shattered as the storm’s ferocious winds destroyed my beloved Mississippi coastline. I watched in disbelief as waters, ever so slowly, but ever so surely, flooded homes of those who already had more troubles than most of us can understand.   

We’re not going to discuss the reason why Katrina came…that’s God’s business, not ours. 

Our duty is to listen for His still small voice in the aftermath of the storm.

A Personal Story

I found myself sitting in awe of God in the darkness of the wee hours following the storm. His compassion flooded over me with a wash of His great love. His light came into my darkness. The gentle waft of His breath touched my face. 

“Take care of my children,” I heard Him whisper. “I tell you the truth, whatever you do for one of the least of these, you do for me.”

In the days that followed I found myself holding the untouchable, embracing His little ones, and loving the unlovable. After a long day, I stood in the middle of one of our shelters, exhausted, but not wanting to leave the children, when I felt a tug at my skirt. I looked down to see a dear child with arms stretching to the heavens pleading, “Hug me.” Not ‘pick me up’ or ‘hold me’ as little ones so often say, but 'hug me.'


When I lifted the frail body of this hungry child to my chest, she wrapped her arms around my neck and her legs around my torso. Her head fell on my shoulder as I squeezed her to me. After a moment she pulled back to rock her head from side to side while gently stroking the sweaty bangs that fell across my eyes.


“Have you come to stay with me?” she asked, as her tiny hands held my face near to hers.


Looking in those big brown eyes, starving for love, I muttered, “For a time… but there is Someone who has come to stay with you today, tomorrow and the next.”


Through tears, I shared the Good News of the only One who will never leave her.


I suppose I’ll never know (until I leave this place to go Home), if the words given from my heart to this child’s sank into her soul.  


It is our sacred honor, yours and mine, to love His precious children. To share the Good News of Christ’s love. It is our sacred duty to show our children how to love their brothers and sisters in God’s family.


A Personal Mission


Through Project: To My Friend, an initiative of Manners of the Heart Community Fund, children can send notes of encouragement along with a few school supplies and toiletries to the children of the storm. It’s a way of letting the distressed children know that another child cares about them. We’re asking the givers to include a self-addressed stamped envelope so the displaced children can respond. As the children are preparing for the school day, each can prayer for the other, connecting through Christ’s love. 


The “friend sacks” are being hand delivered by school children, volunteers, and Wise Old Wilbur, the friendly mascot of Manners of the Heart. Defining manners as an attitude of the heart that’s self-giving, not self-serving, this special project puts the principles of Manners of the Heart into action.


During a visit last week, comments from the children touched our hearts: 


"I love books about Jesus. He's my hero."

“Hey, I got a friend I don’t even know, yet. Cool…”

“When I wake up tomorrow, I’ll pray for her, too.”(After a volunteer read a card from her new friend.)

“I’ve heard about Jesus, but I’ve never seen a book about him.”   

"Can Wilbur spend the night with us?"

"One more story, pleaaaaaase? One more song, pleaaaaaase?"


The last stanza of that beloved old hymn should be our decree;


And Your cross I’ll always bear,

And for You I’ll do and dare,

For You love the little children of the world.

He’s whispering. 

Are we listening?

Jill Rigby, an accomplished author, speaker, singer and columnist, reaches into hearts – whether 10 years old in the classroom or 50 years old in the boardroom -- to teach God’s principles of respectfulness. As CEO of Manners of the Heart Community Fund, a 501(c) 3 non-profit, Rigby oversees “Project: To My Friend,” an opportunity for children to help children of the storm. Visit the website to find out how you and your children can be involved: www.mannersoftheheart.org