New Orleans Blog
Thursday, March 30
Written by Connor Hughes
This Thursday, we woke up and spent time in God’s word for our morning quiet time. It has been amazing to see our students really lean into this time and enjoy having some stillness as a part of each morning. We then loaded up the buses and headed downtown to serve alongside Greenlight ministries. This nonprofit serves the homeless population of the central area of the city. We were able to hand out waters, food, toiletries, socks and other items. It allowed our students to have some great conversations with the people there. Ines, as well as a few other students, commented on how humbling it was to realize all they have back home. The Holy Spirit laid a powerful conviction in our students’ hearts about being thankful for what they have, but also the need to consider the needs of others back home. I’m so proud of how our students boldly walked around and engaged with these people in need. You could tell that our students knew that they weren’t just there to hand supplies. They knew that it was all about making the people there feel loved and seen, showing the love of Christ.
After our service time that morning, we headed out to a much needed pizza lunch. Once we were refueled, we went over the the National WWII Museum for a few hours. It was hard to leave because there was just so much to see in it! Caroline commented on how she could have stayed for a couple more hours! Though we tried, there just wasn’t a way to see everything! My personal favorite parts were the Boeing section with real WWII planes and the Medal of Honor area, which honored and shared the story of all of the recipients of this medal during the war.
After coming back to the seminary for the evening, we ate some dinner and had some fun free time to nap, play basketball, go to the gym and just relax. Later that evening we made a spontaneous trip to Burger King and had an opportunity to really love on the under-staffed crew there. The main cashier commented on how we made her day and how she felt so blessed to have been able to serve us. Our kids really made sure to be complimentary and kind. Unplanned moments of sharing Jesus with strangers. I love seeing these students jump in with boldness!
The night finished with a powerful group devotional time led by Gabe and Christian. They walked us through the morning devotional and talked about the image of Jesus washing His disciples’ feet. Gabe asked a meaningful question, “Why can’t we be the ones to really step up at our school and live like that?”. God moved in big and little ways this week and our students have really been asking themselves and each other about revival in their age group and how they can be the ones to really step out in faith. Please join me in praying for these sweet students as they head home. Pray that Jesus would radically encourage and prepare their hearts for the boldness and courage they need to serve and love others in this world. Pray that they would step up as leaders of the faith and boldly proclaim Christ to their friends, classmates, teammates and strangers. Thank you for trusting us with your son or daughter. It has been such a powerful week. I can’t wait to see how God continues to use this trip to draw these students closer and closer to Him.
Tuesday, May 28The New Orleans team had a very FAT Tuesday (filled with memorable experiences, of course) today! For some of us, it was a VERY long day! Madame Dignon's alarm went off at 5:10 a.m. (much to her dismay), and she leaped from her slumber to accompany an exceptional group to Grace at the GreenLight. This is an organization that specifically serves the homeless population of New Orleans. They provide clothing, feed breakfast, and even provide steps for people to reunify with their loved ones and get off the street for good!
So, at 6:15 a.m., our kiddos began the privilege of serving breakfast to these amazing and gracious community members. Some handed out water, some served coffee, some filled the breakfast containers, some worked at check-in, and some began to organize the clothing pantry! All in all, we served breakfast to over 125 people! What an amazing gift to see our students fill others with joy, even if it was only for a moment.
Here's what some of our students said:
Gabe Fortson (senior): "I saw God's love today through feeding the homeless and seeing the pure joy from them made my day 10X better."
Christian Hernandez: "God worked today by the way He made everything to His plan and seeing the joy in the homeless people we served by just giving them food, made me see God's glory."
Madame Dignon: "It was precious to see my students sad...which sounds awful, but it isn't. My students were sad when we finished our breakfast service and they realized that they had to stop serving. How great is that? When they want to keep serving, you know God is working!"
When we returned to the school, we participated in Gospel Training with Send Relief. We explored these questions:
- What does context actually change about following Christ?
- What questions should we be asking?
- How do we affect change in our communities?
While I would love to give you answers to these questions, you should know that this was some of the best Gospel Training any of us have ever experienced. It sparked some of the most amazing conversations, and our kids are so excited to start putting pen to paper (so to speak) when they return home.
Jaden Rivera: "My favorite part of the day was the training we had earlier in the day. I liked the questions we had to answer because it really made me think about myself as a person and what I should be doing to continue serving."
Freddy Harrell: "My favorite part of the day was hearing how context can change how you serve other people."
From there, we headed out to our AIRBOAT TOUR through the Swamps in Lafitte, Lousiana! We met our new school's mascot, Frank. He's a 7-foot alligator! I think Mr. Clingman is going to love this!
In all seriousness, John Michael Meadows put it best, "Today, when we were on our airboat tour, seeing all the nature, I saw how powerful God is and how He created the world perfectly."
It really was an amazing tour! Our day ended with devotions led by Dom Zackery and Colby Meyer. These two guys led us through the highs of the day and hopes for the rest of the trip. They challenged us to think about how we can use the Beattitudes from Matthew 5: 1-6. As we continued through the devotion, the conversations became so deep and we could really see a revival in our students. It was truly monumental, and we can't wait for the rest of the week to be unfolded for us! (Oh...and Madame is cooking tomorrow.....) See you then!
Monday, March 27WRITTEN by Andrea Dignon, Upper School Faculty
Monday was our first day of service, and it was a doozy! We are certainly physically exhausted, but so jazzed spiritually (see the New Orleans reference there?)...
We woke early to breakfast (provided by the MissionLab volunteers), and then headed out to the west side of the city to Giving Hope New Orleans. Giving Hope NOLA is a Christian-based food pantry that provides food and essentials to in-need families in the area. They work solely on donations and volunteers. We met Mrs. Dawn, a strong servant, who started serving the people of New Orleans during Covid. We loaded cars full of food, shrimp, hand sanitizers, cereal, Ritz Crackers (the kids LOVED the Ritz Crackers!), and more! From here, I'll let Mrs. McCain take over...
Written by Cindy McCain Upper School Faculty
Here are some thoughts from the point our group split into two teams. Half of the New Orleans team hit the hot and humid streets of Kenner, a western suburb, this afternoon to help spread the news that a (fairly) new church is in town. We likely placed door hangers on over 200 front doors inviting people to the nearby church. Hopefully some families will now find a church home, which will be a blessing.
It was a very quiet van of weary teens which then headed to City Park. There we spent time in private devotions and relaxation, enjoying the nearby lake and ducks under Spanish moss covered trees. The day had started by working with a ministry operation which utilizes dozens of partners and feeds 2,000 families each month. In contrast, our day’s work ended coming alongside a faithful pastor and wife who are trying to be a light and serve their community through their small community church.
Our hope is that, for both, the increase of laborers today lightened their load and brought them encouragement. It is after 10:30 p.m. as I write this. We have just returned from our team devotions where we discuss the scriptures from our personal devotion time earlier in the day, as well as where we saw God show up today. It was so sweet tonight as students eagerly shared specific examples where they saw the servant model of Jesus reflected in each other. We talked about the attitudes of a servant we saw today, the sacrifices of a servant (especially those with the pastor today, as well as the volunteers at the food pantry), and the compassion of a servant. Mrs. Dignon mentioned the etymology of the word compassion that she researched during her quiet time at the park. She found that compassion's word history is from the word "compati," which means "suffer with." Isn't that interesting? Please continue to pray that God will do a work in and through us!
Sunday, March 26WRITTEN by Andrea Dignon, Upper School Faculty
Sunday was EXTRAORDINARY! We drove back into Slidell for church service at Camellia City Church. NCCS alums Brenn and Kristen Butts (class of '04) started this church in September of 2020 online, then opened the doors to their church in February of 2022. Brenn and Kristen have both faithfully served the Lord since graduating from NCCS. They have 4 children, 2 foster children, and one on the way. We ask you to please pray for this precious family. For their health, and for the health of their church.
After service that morning, we spent some time with Brenn, who charged us to still our minds and truly listen to God. We were listening for God to provide us opportunities to pray for specific members in the Slidell community. There were several instances where God seriously showed up, and we listened! Our students stopped and prayed with the people they met and delivered food to those who were in need. It was such a blessing to see these kiddos step out of their comfort zone and meet people right where they were, showing compassion, and praying with them.
From there, we drove to the French Quarter, and toured the town! I am an avid chef and had the great honor of meeting one of my favorite New Orleans chefs face-to-face, Chef Linda Green. She is a true New Orleans staple, and an amazing woman of God who gives it all back to Him. Several of the students were convinced to try Chef Linda's famous Yakomein noodle soup...Oh La La! It was delicious! We listened to jazz music, walked around the little festival, and even had an opportunity to hear God again and pray with another couple of people in the area who had fallen on hard times with health issues. God is working, all the time!
Dessert was had at the amazing Café du Monde! We sat on the steps by the Mississippi River eating beignets! Powdered sugar was flying everywhere! Oh what a day!
Saturday, March 25
WRITTEN by Andrea Dignon, Upper School Faculty
Where Y'at, NCCS Eagles?!!
Early Saturday morning, the NCCS New Orleans team set out on an adventure all the way down to the Big Easy! It was a lovely trip, with a couple of stops here and there for lunch and fuel. By the time we arrived at the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary Campus, new friendships were already formed, and memories were already made!
We got ourselves settled in our rooms and then headed out for a delicious dinner at Southside Café in Slidell (Mrs. McCain's old stomping grounds!)... From Po' Boys to Crawfish and Gumbo, the food was SO good!