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Displaying the works of God

The 2017 Hope Award winner: Delta Streets Academy

Displaying the works of God

The first senior class of Delta Streets Academy gets ready for the graduation ceremony with teacher Nate Carroll. (Chuck Cook/Genesis)

Jesus “saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ Jesus answered, ‘It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him’” (John 9:1-3).

Following Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, pundits and politicians pointed fingers: Global warming? Over-population? But even a New York Times headline pointed to the works of God—“Texans Rebuild After Harvey as a Practice of Faith: After the storm, 17 people joined in prayer before clearing out the flooded house of an aging widow. God, they insisted, was also there.”

We report some of those works of God in "Calling all hands" in this issue. This hurricane season shows compassion making a comeback in governmental understanding. One of the notable Hurricane Katrina failures in 2005 was the general message government pros sent to volunteers: Stay home and let the experts handle it. Well, that year the experts blew it, so the Harvey message was: Come one, come all. Come, Cajun navy. Come, church groups. Come, volunteer doctors. Come, dog lovers. We’re seeing similar welcome mats—soaked but hopeful—in the Irma aftermath.

Here’s another story about works of God displayed: This year our Hope Awards for Effective Compassion voting ended on Sept. 1, and our big winner is Delta Streets Academy. DSA, a Christian school that intellectually and spiritually educates African-American young men in Greenwood, Miss., received 40 percent of the 16,000 votes readers cast. The other regional winners—Navajo Ministries in New Mexico, Hope Pregnancy Ministries in Montana, Village of Hope in Zambia, and New Life Home in New Hampshire—also garnered substantial support.

For some African-Americans, a hurricane that began with slavery in 1619 has lasted for nearly four centuries. We can debate why that is, but five years ago a young Mississippian, T. Mac Howard, decided to do something about the poor education available to African-Americans in his city: He opened DSA with a plan “to equip the young men who walk through our doors daily with the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the skills needed to live a life that honors God” (see “Creating a new pattern,” July 1, 2017).

That was good news for Greenwood, subject of a 1966 NBC documentary about segregation and the city where moviemakers filmed The Help (see “Delta dividends,” March 7, 2015). The city still has racial problems, but DSA is helping. Howard’s reaction to WORLD’s award: “The DSA family is very thankful for the recognition and support we have received during the last two months of voting for the Hope Awards. The $15,000 is going to be super-helpful and the publicity has been amazing.”

This is the first time a school has won our top award. Four previous top winners emphasized job training. Four focused on children. The other three: a homeless shelter, a legal program for the poor, and a ministry that rescues women from prostitution. The 12 top winners come from 11 states: Tennessee twice, plus Arkansas, North Carolina, Iowa, Missouri, Texas, Illinois, Washington, Michigan, Alaska, and Mississippi.

In 12 years of Hope awards we’ve been privileged to honor 94 ministries in 39 states plus two from Asia, two from Africa, and two from Central America and the Caribbean. The breadth of activity by Christians shows that Christian compassion—generalized to “compassionate conservatism” two decades ago—is alive.

(Charlie Riedel/AP)

Wonderful world

Many Americans know the first line of Sam Cooke’s terrific 1960 song, “(What a) Wonderful World”: “Don’t know much about history.” Some know the first line of the second stanza, “Don’t know much about geography.” Those two lines together underlie “global warming” claims about Houston’s terrible Harvey flood.

Some of the same folks who rightly ridiculed conservative claims that a particular winter blizzard “disproves global warming” are now saying “climate change” caused Harvey. But such propagandists don’t know much, or anything, about the Houston floods of 1837, 1841, 1853, 1875, 1879, 1887, 1913, 1929, 1932, 1935, and so forth.

That’s history, and geography is also important: As author/professor Phillip Magness wrote, Houston’s terrain is “extraordinarily flat. … Most local waterways are slow-moving creeks and bayous that wind their way through town and eventually trickle into the shallow, marshy Trinity bay. … During a deluge, these systems fill rapidly with water that effectively has nowhere to go.” The Houston Chronicle noted that the city has lots of pavement, which means those looking for man-made problems might point to harder surfaces rather than warmer air.

Sam Cooke put it well: “Don’t know much about the French I took / But I do know that I love you, / And I know that if you love me, too, / What a wonderful world this would be.” Tens of thousands of post-hurricane volunteers are showing love after God first loved them. —M.O.

Marvin Olasky

Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD and dean of World Journalism Institute. He joined WORLD in 1992 and has also been a university professor and provost. He has written more than 20 books: His latest is Abortion at the Crossroads. Marvin resides with his wife, Susan, in Austin, Texas. Follow him on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.