Displaced NOBTS students settle into new lives in Louisville

Communications Staff — November 3, 2005

Adam Dorsey barely paid attention to the television newscasters on Aug. 26 as they analyzed the Category 2 hurricane that was churning across the southernmost tip of Florida.

However, by early the next morning, the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary student was wide-awake to the fact that Hurricane Katrina had entered the Gulf of Mexico as a Category 3 monster that was gaining strength rapidly. As he watched the news, two things became abundantly clear: Katrina had New Orleans in its crosshairs and his family had to evacuate immediately.

By 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, some 48 hours before Katrina came ashore, Dorsey, his wife Christi and their 11-month-old son, Jacob, were headed north on the interstate toward his parents’ home in east Tennessee. They managed to bring along a few wedding photos and their computer tower along with a few personal effects.

By the time the storm surge swallowed much of the Gulf Coast on Monday, the family was safely out of harm’s way. However, they were ill-prepared for the pictures they saw of New Orleans Seminary once Katrina had come and gone.

“I waited in line for gas and went to Lowe’s and bought some blocks to put our furniture up on and we evacuated on Saturday morning,” Dorsey said. “We had already had minor flooding when it rained real hard in our apartment at New Orleans [Seminary]. We thought we might get a few inches because this is going to be a big storm, so we put all our furniture up on blocks. When we left we didn’t know it was going to be this bad.

“We saw the picture on Baptist Press of the water near the top of a street sign. That sign was at the intersection of the street we lived on. We knew everything was gone.”

The Dorseys wound up in Louisville, the city in which Christi Dorsey grew up. It was only natural that they enroll in The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Dorsey said. The seminary provided a free apartment and utilities, along with a card to Wal-Mart to help replenish personal items. Several churches also assisted them in various ways and Starbucks, his New Orleans employer, promised to continue insurance and other benefits through the second quarter of 2006.

The Dorseys had moved to New Orleans in May so Adam could complete a master of divinity in pastoral care. They plan on returning to New Orleans Seminary next summer after the seminary repairs the damage to its campus.

Christi said they have been well-received and well-provided for while at Southern. But losing most everything they own — from home and belongings to their church and his job — has not been easy.

“I think the most difficult thing for me was just being displaced,” she said. “If your house burns down, you still have your church or your work, but in this case everything is gone. Your whole life is gone. You are just tying to decide where you are going to go next.”

Adam said he has wept mostly for the city of New Orleans and the scores of lost persons who died at the hands of the storm without Christ. He also said it has taught him the reality of Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians — how Christians are to comfort others with the comfort with which God has comforted them.

“Having us go through this and seeing God comfort us is preparing us to comfort others with His comfort,” he said. “That has become very real to us.”

William “Opie” Hurst and his family got out of New Orleans on Thursday, Aug. 25, as soon as forecasters learned that Katrina was turning her angry eye toward New Orleans. That day — nearly four days before Katrina made landfall — Hurst traveled back to his native Tupelo, Miss., to gather some personal effects.

When he saw on the Weather Channel that the hurricane was moving toward New Orleans, he called his wife and told her to pack some clothes and leave the city as quickly as possible. With a one-week supply of clothing, the Hurst family headed out of New Orleans.

“I, like everyone else, watched everything unfold on the news in the following weeks,” Hurst said. “We saw the tragedy of the things that had happened. I believe our family spent the first few days in a numbness or a grieving over what we had seen on television. We really had not thought about what we were losing. Your heart was just breaking when you saw the people on top of their houses.”

Within two weeks Hurst realized his family could not return to their home in New Orleans. But with a certainty that God had called him to ministry, Hurst began to investigate the possibility of enrolling at another seminary. The search for a biblically-based counseling program left Hurst frustrated initially. Then he visited Southern Seminary.

While staying in Southern’s Legacy Center as a prospective student, Hurst picked up a copy of Towers, the seminary’s newspaper, and saw an article about two new professors being hired in the biblical counseling program.

As he read about Southern’s commitment to confront social and family issues with the Bible, he knew God wanted him to enroll.

“We knew that this was where we were supposed to be, and my wife and I made a commitment to one another,” he said. “Then we started back to Tupelo and it dawned on us that we had a seminary but didn’t have a place to live.”

The family still lacked a place to live by the time Hurst was to start classes. So he came to Louisville alone, leaving his family in Tupelo to pray for a house.

During Hurst’s initial days in Louisville, he met with a FEMA representative about securing housing for his family. Providentially, a woman overheard Hurst’s conversation with the FEMA representative and put him in contact with a group from four local Baptist churches that had been preparing a house for a needy family from the regions affected by Katrina.

The group offered the house to Hurst, explaining that they had been praying for a family to help.

“It was more than we could have imagined a seminary student would be blessed with,” he said. “And it wasn’t just the house. It was the love of God in people who saw to do this.”

Hurst and his family moved into the house and are currently settling into life in Louisville. Though his experience has been difficult, Hurst says the trials that have come to his family have opened up many doors for sharing the Gospel and are a reminder of God’s ability to provide.

“I wouldn’t trade this time in my life for anything in the world because we’re growing in dependency and learning to rest in the Lord,” he said.

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