Reporters covering the evacuation of New Orleans last week have noticed an interesting phenomenon. People who have lost everything are staying in shelters. And who are running those shelters? Churches.
Christians were the first to arrive on the scene—literally the first responders—the first to help with the devastation in New Orleans, even before the first government assistance arrived. And Christians shouldn’t be surprised at this, even if reporters are.
Because throughout history, Christians have been passionate about human dignity. We believe all humans are made in the image of God. This is why Christians throughout history have rescued abandoned babies, fought slavery, and passed child labor laws. Today, we care equally for the mother dying of AIDS in Africa, the six-year-old sex slave in Thailand, and the homeless family in New Orleans.
In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Prison Fellowship staff and volunteers are also caring for a segment of the population that hasn’t gotten much sympathy: prisoners and their families.
Angola Prison, a huge, maximum-security prison near Baton Rouge, has faced the burden of housing several thousand displaced prisoners from New Orleans. Most of these prisoners will live in tent cities set up on the grounds of Angola. Richard Payne, Prison Fellowship’s national director of Operation Starting Line, along with a group of volunteers are driving a trailer filled with toothbrushes, soap, towels, socks, blankets, and water from North Carolina to Angola.