Sunday, September 04, 2005

How to Pray for and Help Desire Street Ministries

Elliot Grudem, a pastor in Raleigh, NC and the former Leadership Director of Desire Street Ministries in New Orleans, passes along an update regarding DSM. DSM is under the leadership of Mo Leverett, who is pouring out his life to evangelize and disciple the urban poor in New Orleans, building into their lives a God-centered worldview. Here is Elliot's email. I encourage you to act as the Lord leads.

As you may know, we lived near and worked in the Ninth Ward—the area hit hardest by the storm. Many of the homes in that area are completely under water. Desire Street Ministries’ (DSM) facility has water up to the roofline. The residents of the city’s poorest neighborhood have lost everything: their homes, their possessions, and for some, their family and friends. One newspaper reported that rescuers in the Ninth Ward were pushing dead bodies away from their boats with sticks just to get to those who still were trapped in their homes. Stories like that and pictures—especially those that came across the AP wire today from the New Orleans Convention Center—make us sick. And angry. And frustrated. And they make us grieve.

But we do not grieve as those without hope (1 Thes. 4:13). In the midst of the darkness, as always, the light of God shines through. Or, to paraphrase author Frederick Buechner, grace is like laughter mixed with tears, so mixed together that you can’t tell if the whole episode started or finished with laughter or tears. And it’s the kind of laughter that often comes as light in the midst of the darkness—just before the darkness swallows it alive. Or, to quote King Lear, “The worst returns to laughter.”

We have word that most of our friends made it out alive. Many of DSM’s staff evacuated to a camp outside Jackson, MS with some of the kids involved in the ministry. When Jackson took a hit from Katrina, the staff left with kids to areas across the country—most of them landing somewhere between Atlanta and Houston. But there still are a number of kids and family members unaccounted for. And as of yesterday, there were still people being rescued from rooftops in the Desire neighborhood. The stories of escape and rescue are vivid reminders to us of God’s continued grace and protection for his creation.

DSM has temporarily relocated their offices to Atlanta. Like many other residents of the Ninth Ward, staff members evacuated with little and lost everything they left behind and now are trying to rebuild their lives from scratch. And many are without the resources to do so. Therefore, I would ask you join Kacey and me as we help in the following ways:

  1. Check out some of the pictures and read some of the stories on
  2. Pray that the Lord would open your heart to your brothers and sisters in need (1 John 3:17).
  3. Pray for the people of New Orleans, specifically the residents of the Ninth Ward as they end up in strange areas as people without a home. Again, the people that lived in the Ninth Ward are some of the poorest residents of a city that is one of the most impoverished in the nation.
  4. Pray that they would find God to be their “refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Ps. 46:1).
  5. Pray that the chaos that has enveloped New Orleans will come to an end and that order will soon be restored.
  6. Pray also that the Lord will allow the necessary food and other provisions to get to the people that so desperately need them.
  7. Pray for the staff, students, and families of DSM. Thank the Lord for keeping them safe.
  8. Pray that those who are still missing would be kept safe and be able to connect with DSM staff quickly.
  9. Pray that they will get settled quickly and that they will make wise decisions regarding the future. Follow the progress of DSM’s efforts at
  10. Support DSM staff, students, and their families as they seek to reestablish themselves by them sending gift certificates to Wal-Mart, Target, Footlocker, or JCPenneys. Our good friend and DSM staff member, Ben McLeish, is collecting the gift certificates and distributing them as needed. You can send the certificates to:
Ben McLeish
4620 Forest Place
Cumming, GA 30041
Support DSM financially as they seek to minister to the residents of the Ninth Ward by sending checks made payable to Desire Street Ministries to:

Whitney National Bank Mail Teller
1716 Mangum Road
Houston, TX 77092

Thank you for your continued concern, prayers, and support.