Never in my life had I felt so overwhelmed. Hurricane Katrina made landfall near New Orleans in August 2005, creating the greatest natural disaster in the history of the United States. The levees protecting the city were breached, and 70% of the city, including the campus of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, went underwater for weeks.
Faculty, staff, and students were scattered in 29 different states, without access to the campus with its library, classrooms, offices, and housing for a year. Some 100 buildings on our campus had to be replaced, renovated, or repaired simultaneously. Normal income streams plummeted.
But God always provides a path forward.
Ten days after the levees broke, our faculty and leadership teams gathered with little more than the clothes on our backs. We wept. We prayed. We worshipped. And then we went to work. In two days, the leadership team found a way to continue operations from Atlanta while the campus was being rebuilt. The faculty team found a way to continue teaching every single course we offered without classrooms, a library, or offices.
When we all came together and shared our plans, all agreed: NOBTS would entirely reinvent itself and keep teaching. The shock over the disappearance of “normal” is unavoidable. However, shock is just a fence to climb over. When you get on the other side of shock, you will discover God makes a way forward. Always.
Dr. Chuck Kelley retired in 2019 after 23 years as president of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He is online at drchuckkelley.com. Read his full column from the Summer 2020 issue of Resource magazine at Resource.IBSA.org.