Years after the Hell of Katrina, The Gathering Continues to Bring Heaven on Earth
Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans 12 years ago. Matt Woodward and his family headed there to provide disaster relief. When they realized the need for restoration went beyond brick and mortar, they stuck around.
As they served, they saw torn families, loss, PTSD, and the systemic issues this city had been dealing with for years. That’s how The Gathering began as a local church in New Orleans, in partnership with Stadia and a network of existing churches. “We moved from the short-term model of helping people get back in their homes to helping them realize what a family IN a home is,” Matt explains.
It didn’t take long to realize that to have influence in lives in this area, they were going to have to build trust. The only way to have trust was to have relationships. So the people of The Gathering expanded their service-mindedness in a myriad of ways that now base out of a building that serves as a key part of community life.
This gained them influence in the area, which opened up other doors … within the Sherriff’s department and schools, and with leaders in economic development. “People were coming to us and asking ‘How should we do this?’ or ‘Let’s have you develop this for the benefit of the community?’” Matt says. “We keep finding ourselves at the doorstep of influence … people asking us ‘Why do you do what you do?’ which is the beginning of teaching them how to walk on this journey with God.”
Although the rest of the world has shifted attention to other natural disasters and headlines since Katrina, The Gathering continues to serve the area and bring the Hope of Jesus to everyone they encounter. “We believe it’s more than just trying to get people to heaven,” says Matt. “We believe teaching people scripture teaches people how to live here and now. We can experience the Kingdom in our lives. We can experience peace and fulfillment HERE today.”
Take a few minutes to hear more from Matt and the story of how God is using The Gathering church to bring Hope.
This post is part of a multi-part series telling the story of The Gathering church plant in New Orleans. Check out the series below.
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