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Help still needed building New Orleans seven years after Katrina

By June 18, 2012

USA (MNN) — Think of all that has happened in your life since 2005. There could be big moves, job changes, new friends, marriages, deaths, births. Seven years is a long time.

Yet that time has still not been sufficient to complete rebuild efforts in New Orleans. The work remains overwhelming.

"Believe it or not, we still have a major effort ongoing in New Orleans following up on Hurricane Katrina," says Mark Lewis, director of the EFCA TouchGlobal Crisis Response. "There are still over 20,000 Katrina-blighted properties in the city. So there continues to be an ongoing effort there of recovery and working with families."

The needs are not only ongoing, but they're urgent. Lewis just spoke with one woman who has been living on couches of friends and family since 2005. She just wants to go home.

"For those homeowners who are still displaced and still trying to get back into their homes, it's just an ongoing impact that has been totally forgotten," Lewis notes.

For the last seven years, TouchGlobal has been using volunteer labor to build one home at a time in New Orleans. But the rebuild effort has been much more than physical. Emotional and spiritual needs continue to be significant. TouchGlobal has been working with multiple local churches and has even been planting new churches in response.

"With the church-planting work that we're connected with, it really provides a very rich opportunity not only to invest in the lives of individual homeowners, but to be part of a broader metro strategy for church planting and disciple making," says Lewis.

It's been a great opportunity to build relationships and continuously share the message of Christ. But many hands are still needed to just bring people back home.

"We need hands that would be able to come and help. It doesn't have to be skilled folks in any of our locations, but just willing hands, open hearts that can help on the physical side, but also help with the relational ministry pieces as well," says Lewis.

If you live in the U.S., consider taking a team to New Orleans. Lewis says there are slots available every week this summer if you want to embark on a last-minute road trip and service project with a small group, friends, or family. Otherwise, teams can come in the fall or even up into next summer.

Help is vital. To learn how you can go and serve, click here or e-mail touchglobal@efca.org.

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