Fargo fares better than expected; SBTS alum thankful for prayer support

Communications Staff — April 2, 2009

City officials and residents of the twin cities of Fargo, N.D., and Moorhead, Minn., were relieved that the Red River crested at just below 41 feet March 28.

Significant snow storms March 30 and 31 have not had a significant impact on the river, which had receded more than two feet, as of April 1, according to New York Times article.

‘The flood levels were not as great as potentially predicted,’ Durward Garrett, pastor of Temple Baptist Church in Fargo, told Baptist Press March 30.

‘The authorities predicted levels that were higher than they turned out to be, so that was very good news. The levels did not stay at their extreme height as long as people thought they might,’ Garrett said. ‘They’ve been going down since Saturday, not very much, but a little bit. So people are encouraged.’

John Fisher, a 2008 master of divinity graduate from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a church planter in the Fargo, N.D., metro area, said he spent more than 30 hours building dikes and filling sandbags with people in the community.

‘I have never seen community played out quite like I did while working on the sandbag line and dike building,’ Fisher, who studied in Southern’s Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Church Growth, said. ‘Lawyers, inmates, church planters, construction workers, students and many more all working together for the common purpose of holding back the river: it was amazing to see.

‘We are so thankful for friends, family and many others lifting us up in prayer. It was a very tense stressful and scary time but the Lord is sovereign and in control.’

Fisher said several communities in Fargo lost homes, but damage in the downtown area was minimal. He said the situation opened the door to several relationships he hopes to continue.

‘I had several conversations with people who were saying ‘God hates us,’’ he said. ‘I got to tell them that if it were not for God we would all be under water already; that He is looking after every ounce of water and none of this is a surprise to Him. This also opened up opportunities to tell them about Christ. We had no professions of faith but our connections skyrocketed by all the different people we met.’

Fisher is working as a church planter in the Fargo area with his wife Abby. Fisher’s goal is to minister to a generation of people who have previously gone to church, but no longer do and seem to be lost. He and his wife arrived in the area in July and currently work bi-vocationally as they seek to reach the city with the Gospel.

The Red River climbed to 40.82 feet early March 28 eclipsing the previous record of 40.1 feet set in April 1897, according to an article at Bloomberg.com. Two people have died of heart attacks due to over exerting themselves working to prevent the flood and 61 people have been injured or made ill, according to a North Dakota Department of Emergency Services statement.

Disaster relief teams from Kentucky, Illinois, Tennessee, Missouri and Michigan have been placed on alert for Fargo, and a feeding unit from the Kansas Nebraska Convention of Southern Baptists was going to be deployed once the blizzard conditions lifted, according to the North American Mission Board.

For more information on Fisher’s church planting efforts, visit www.missionfargo.org/. (BP)

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