“But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.” John 20:31

This is a question I have heard many times since it was announced that the 2010 Youth Gathering would take place in New Orleans. It is a very good question given the fact that in 2005, Hurricane Katrina nearly tore New Orleans apart. It was bad enough that Gathering planners were forced to move the 2007 Gathering, originally scheduled for New Orleans, to Orlando. In case you have some concerns, let me give you some information to ponder.

New Orleans was indeed hit with one of the worst storms we have ever seen. My youth group did a hurricane relief mission trip to New Orleans in the summer of 2008 through Camp Restore. We were able to see first-hand the damage that the storm did in New Orleans. It was one of the most eye-opening things I have seen in my life. The amount of destruction that Katrina caused is just amazing. And then with the levee breaking in the Lower Ninth Ward, the devastation left was truly unbelievable. Seeing acres upon acres of destroyed homes is such a humbling sight. Yes, the consequences of Hurricane Katrina are still very much evident. But, where the Gathering is going to be held, downtown, there really isn’t too much visible damage from Katrina. When I was there for meetings in July, I did notice some water lines on some buildings, but I didn’t see any other remnants from the storm. In fact, this area is functioning back at the level it was prior to the storm. Businesses are open, and life has been restored in this area…. Praise God for that!

And, not only has the area recovered, but this is a great chance for our youth to come and hear the stories, come and help with clean-up in the areas that still need help, and come to spread the great news of Jesus Christ to people who need to hear it. What an opportunity we have to continue to help this city recover from something as awful as Hurricane Katrina! More than 37,000 youth from the ELCA just attended their gathering in New Orleans this summer, and it went off with no problems; I know the Lord will do nothing but the same for the LCMS in July, 2010.

There is more information about New Orleans on the Gathering website, www.lcmsgathering.com.

Blessings to you as you travel the road to the Gathering!