Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Where is Brad Pitt Now?

By David Horn, ThD
Director, The Ockenga Institute

Where is Brad Pitt now? I have just returned from a one-week missions project to New Orleans with nine Gordon-Conwell students, Jeff Arthurs on our faculty, and our wives. We had the privilege of serving post-Katrina New Orleans with a variety of building and recovery projects.
We, of course, visited the Ninth Ward of New Orleans on the first day we were there. A bomb hit it. It must have been a bomb, so devastating was the carnage, and this after five years since the hurricane. But right there in the center of the parish, like a Phoenix rising out of the ashes, were four or five futuristic-looking houses that can only be described through the lens of my own childhood Saturday morning television experience. The houses looked like they came right out of the Jetsons. Brad Pitt built them, I assume from the proceeds deep in the north side of his wallet. Much to his credit, he made an early contribution to the cause.
We stayed on the sanctuary and classroom floors of Faith Bible Church in neighboring Slidell. What a wonderful little, faithful church. When the storm first hit, they did the logical thing: They first cleaned up the two feet of muck and swamp water from their own church, and then went about the business of gutting and cleaning up the houses of their neighbors and others in New Orleans. They have been doing it ever since, hosting groups like us on a wing and a prayer for five years, even as their congregation gets smaller and smaller. To date, this little church, through the hundreds of volunteers they have hosted, has restored almost 60 houses, in addition to hundreds of other restoration projects.
I can’t begin to tell you how proud I am of our students and their contribution to the lives of total strangers this past week. In the grand scheme of things, I suppose, they didn’t sacrifice much other than a week of much needed study time. But they showed up, and on their own dime, and they didn’t have to. They were joined by students from two other schools as well. What an intense little community we became in just one week.
Which brings me back to Brad Pitt. Where is he now? One of the unsung songs in the national media, now that the television cameras are gone after five years, is that it is almost solely faith-based organizations—churches, Christian schools, and other religious organizations-- that are still packing their bags and heading down to New Orleans to patch the city back together again. Where did everyone else go? But why should the national media care? They already have their story. And the story is that apparently the church is full of hypocrites who think about little else but heaven.
I wish they would take five minutes to talk with my new friend, Sarah, as she tells, in her halting Korean-laced English, about her role in tearing down a storm-soaked trailer this week. She probably has never held a hammer before, let alone a crow bar. But there she was, swinging away, along with Sam, her husband, and Caleb and Joan, JK and Joseph, and Anna and Erin and Josh, and Jeff, Liz, and Cec. Just give her five minutes. Now that would be a story.

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