Hurricane-Devastated Lake Charles, LA
Hurricane-Devastated Lake Charles, LA

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Sharing Jesus’ Love in Hurricane-Devastated Lake Charles, LA

Story by Margot Bass
Photos courtesy of Promise Child Ministries

Glenda, a widow and grandmother living in an impoverished neighborhood in Lake Charles, LA, approached a team that had been cleaning up debris and tarping roofs in the devastating aftermath of two hurricanes. “How much do you charge? I have a tree that’s fallen,” she asked. Those hurricanes, Laura in late August and Delta in early October, caused massive damage to her neighborhood. One of the team members responded, “We’re here to share the love of Christ and to be a blessing to the community, so we’re not charging.” Glenda began to cry in disbelief, adding, “Nobody comes to this neighborhood to do that.” She admitted later, “I didn’t know what to say. You don’t ever hear ‘free’—there’s always money involved.”

People work on trees

Promise Child volunteers remove a fallen tree from Leslie's backyard. Calvary Chapel Chino Hills, CA, member Dianne Krylo encouraged her in the aftermath of recent hurricanes in Lake Charles, LA.

Brent Kaser, founder of Promise Child Ministries and leader of the team representing Calvary Chapel San Juan Capistrano, CA, surveyed the damage: “The inside of her house had been severely damaged, there was mold, and the roof had to be completely replaced. She got a FEMA settlement for $13,000, but her roofing estimates alone are coming to $22,000,” Brent explained.

Promise Child, a faith-based non-government organization (NGO) serving children internationally and domestically to bring them to a saving relationship with Jesus, has since organized Project “Let’s Rebuild” to raise funds to pay for Glenda’s roof and other projects in Lake Charles. They are returning in mid-November with a team from Calvary Chapel NorthGrove in Anaheim, CA, to repair her roof and drywall.

Woman carries log

Talia Jankowski from Promise Child moves tree stumps to the side of the road for pick up. The team spent many hours cutting huge trees uprooted in recent hurricanes.

“At Promise Child, we have a heart for the really broken, … in the hard places. I was so encouraged that God led us to this community,” Brent revealed. “At every single home we’ve gone to, the homeowner, either male or female, has literally wept because someone came to help.” Promise Child is partnering in these efforts with Anchored International Relief, a ministry based at CC San Juan Capistrano; its CEO is Missions Pastor Gary Kusunoki. The two organizations are working extensively with other ministries to help the hurricane victims.

Bolstering Hope and Faith

Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:5

Brent shared their priorities: “When we come to work, we’re coming in Jesus’ name. The main goal is to encourage people and build them up in the Christian faith. Our secondary goal is to repair roofs, put up tarps, cut down trees, and pull out fences.” The team shared Christ with—and prayed for—anyone who was willing, he emphasized.

At one home, they met Leslie, who was still grieving the prior death of her mother just two months earlier. One hurricane caused a massive tree to fall, destroying her backyard patio. A police chaplain, Dianne Krylo from Calvary Chapel Chino Hills, CA, began to talk to her as the team went to work. Brent recounted that they talked for two hours. “We pointed her right back to Jesus. She felt so hopeless, and she was having anxiety. We were able to tell her, ‘You have to feed on the Scripture and [the knowledge] that God’s going to be the lifter of your head. He sent us here for this time just to be with you and encourage you.’ By the time we cleared it up, her whole countenance changed.”

Group prayer

The Promise Child team ministers to each homeowner through practical work and through prayer. Here the team prays over a first responder (in orange T-shirt) in Lake Charles after laboring hours at her home.

Brent observed that people in the Lake Charles neighborhoods were open to hearing about Jesus Christ. “The most important thing I’ve realized is that it’s God’s Word that brings hope. People need to be reminded of that. I told the team, ‘We didn’t come to Leslie’s house to bless her by taking out a tree.’ It was about encouraging her to get back into the Word and having that close relationship with Jesus.” Team members, he said, could sense if those they talked to had a relationship with the Lord or only a background of religion. “I encouraged them, ‘Be the Good Samaritan who takes the time to talk, to stop and listen to somebody. It’s not about the work—it’s the fact that we care for people in Jesus’ name. When you take the time to stop and listen and let people know you care, it’s having an impact.’”

A woman representing FEMA encouraged the team after they finished working on Leslie’s home. Brent recalled, “She said, ‘You guys are here at the perfect time because people are needing hope. After the first hurricane, there was support. There hasn’t been the same level of support with Delta.’”

Man walks by tree

Pastor Brent Kaser of Promise Child Ministries evaluates how best to use a chainsaw to remove a large tree that had fallen on a roof.

A Devastated Neighborhood

Brent’s team of nine, which included members from other churches, worked for a week, largely in Glenda’s neighborhood. Initially, they were sent by Anchored International Relief to help at the homes of six first responders in different areas of Lake Charles. “As an ex-police officer himself, Pastor Gary has a heart for first responders,” Brent declared. “We worked for firefighters and deputy sheriffs who have been serving the community since the hurricane and have not had the time to [make repairs].”

Russ, a volunteer firefighter who lives in Glenda’s neighborhood and also works a full-time job, could not enter his home for two weeks because a neighbor’s roof had blown off and landed at his front door. In addition, the back yard was a mess—a tree had fallen onto the back of his house, and a shed was thrown, effectively blocking entry. The CC San Juan Capistrano team worked simultaneously in both front and back yards for two days clearing the entire property.

Man works on fence

Justin Manntai, a Promise Child volunteer, removes one of the many destroyed fences the team encountered.

As they finished that work, they looked for more opportunities to help in that neighborhood. “In Russ’s area, I knew right away: That’s where my heart was, to love the people. I said, ‘Let’s go evangelize, talk to people, hear their stories.’ I really think it was the Lord [leading us here],” Brent marveled.

“Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14b

One of the homes they worked on had flooded, and the entire ceiling had caved in, Brent recalled. “The owner had a cross on her front porch that said, It is well. I walked up and said, ‘It is well, indeed.’ And she said, ‘Praise the Lord.’”

The team brought much-needed hope to this devastated neighborhood, where Brent was told that six people had died tragically as a result of the hurricanes. Glenda, a strong Christian, related, “Everything was torn apart. No one knew which way to go, what to do. But the main thing was all the good folks I knew who passed away in all this. Thank God He sent [help] down here, and now everyone’s feeling much better, feeling grateful and thankful. Leaving your families and friends to come take care of strangers—is that not God’s work?”

Promise Child seeks to work with smaller Calvary Chapels that haven’t developed mission programs of their own. Talia Jankowski, international program coordinator, challenged believers to serve alongside the work at Lake Charles. “You can pray—for Glenda and this community, and the entire area of Lake Charles—that God would intervene, meet people, and provide miraculously.” For more information about helping financially or by being part of a mission team, go to PromiseChild.org.

People work on trees

Although the Promise Child team met merely hours before departing for Lake Charles, God allowed them to quickly develop efficient teamwork. The team included several people from Calvary Chapel San Juan Capistrano, CA.

An Extensive Ministry

But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? 1 John 3:17

Promise Child Ministries is most often known for its international ministry of bringing hope to children through a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. Its monthly sponsorship program meets the basic individual needs of children in Uganda, South Sudan, South Asia, and Asia. It also provides disaster relief both in the U.S. and overseas.

Promise Child America, a division of the ministry, works in the U.S. in many ways: sending kids to a camp for abused and neglected children; supporting the work of the Whosoevers, who share the Gospel at high school campuses; supporting a pro-life pregnancy center; and helping churches in the inner cities. Recently, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization partnered with Calvary Chapel Hope Central Watts in Los Angeles, CA, to bring food and essentials to communities notorious for poverty, gang violence, prostitution, and drugs.

PromiseChild.org

Men cut tree

Pastor Brent Kaser (right) and his friend Brent Crone serve the Lord together at hurricane-devastated Lake Charles. They have been friends for over 40 years.

 

Men cut board

The team dismantles and removes a neighbor’s roof that fell on firefighter Russ’s home during hurricane Delta.

 

Men work on fence

Anchored International Relief volunteers work side by side in Lake Charles. Promise Child joined Anchored Relief, a ministry of Calvary Chapel San Juan Capistrano, CA, to serve the hurricane victims in October 2020. The two organizations have worked together all over the world responding to disasters like these hurricanes in Louisiana.

 

Man works on wall

Brothers Ryan and Kyle Gocan tarp firefighter Russ’s home to prevent a predicted rain from causing any further damage.

 

Men tape roof

“No task is impossible with Christ. Despite facing new challenges, we nailed it!” exclaimed Brent Kaser of Promise Child. Volunteers complete tarping a roof in Lake Charles, LA.

 

People carry branches

The Promise Child team finds new and innovative ways to get the job of clearing debris done.

 

Men roll jacuzzi

125 mph-winds during hurricanes Laura and Delta displaced so much in Lake Charles, even blowing jacuzzis a long way from their homes.

 

Men tape wall

The Promise Child team finishes clean up and patch work at firefighter Russ’s home in Lake Charles. After working on his home, the volunteers stayed to work on more homes in the devastated neighborhood.

 

All verses above are quoted from the New King James Version.

© 2020 Calvary Chapel Magazine. All rights reserved. Articles or photographs may not be reproduced without the written permission of CCM. All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.® Used by permission.

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