Clarence Andrew Barthelemy lives in a FEMA trailer park on a massive gravel parking lot, about 45 miles south of New Orleans. The park, which holds 400 FEMA homes, was set up in Plaquemines Parish for residents displaced after Hurricane Katrina. Barthelemy, known as “C.A.” to his friends and family, has lived in the parish–which comprises the southernmost finger of Louisiana–his entire life. When Katrina made landfall not far from his home, he lost everything but his family.
C.A. first met Billy Graham Rapid Response Team chaplains Jack Dowling and Jerry Guthrie in the spring. “[They] asked how I was doing and said, ‘Do you have a Bible?’” recalls C.A. He used to have one–that he didn’t read–until it was destroyed with his home. After meeting the chaplains, C.A. began to learn about God’s Word and how to get started reading it. Shortly thereafter, he attended a weekly Sunday chapel service organized by BGEA chaplains in nearby Port Sulphur. Following the service, he committed his life to Jesus Christ.
“I am like this today, thanks to [the chaplains],” C.A. says. “God has hit me so spiritually. I know the way they explained it to me–I am a saved person.” When he went home after the service, his wife asked why he was crying. He told her about his newfound faith in Christ.
Sometime later, C.A. saw Jack and his wife, Becca (also a Rapid Response chaplain), who had re-deployed and were back in Plaquemines Parish. C.A. ran up to them. “Do you remember me?” he asked.
“He was so excited,” Jack said. “He told us about everybody that he’s shared his faith with and about his new relationship with Christ.”
C.A. didn’t know how good he had it until he lost his material possessions. “I have found God, and I am much happier,” he says. “I’m taking things as they come, a day at a time. I asked Him this morning to let me spend my day the way a person should spend it–with Him in mind. I feel a whole lot better than I have in a long, long time.”
The next Billy Graham Rapid Response Team training conference will be held in June 2007 at the Billy Graham Training Center near Asheville, N.C. For more information on “His Presence in Crisis” evangelism conferences, chaplain training seminars or to find out how to become a Rapid Response chaplain or ministry volunteer, go to billygraham.org/RapidResponse.