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Ex-Christian Praises the Church's Social Efforts

John Marks, a producer for television's 60 Minutes, went on a two-year quest to investigate evangelicals, the group he had grown up among and later rejected. He wrote a book about the quest called Reasons to Believe: One Man's Journey Among the Evangelicals and the Faith He Left Behind. The church's response to Hurricane Katrina turned the corner for him and became a key reason to believe. One Baptist church in Baton Rouge fed 16,000 people a day for weeks; another housed 700 homeless evacuees. Years after the hurricane, and long after federal assistance had dried up, a network of churches in surrounding states was still sending regular teams to help rebuild houses. Most impressively to Marks, all these church efforts crossed racial lines and barriers in the Deep South. As one worker told him, "We had whites, blacks, Hispanics, Vietnamese, good old Cajun … . We just tried to say, hey, let's help people. This is our state. We'll let everybody else sort out that other stuff. We've got to cook some rice."

Marks concludes:

I would argue that this was a watershed moment in the history of American Christianity … nothing spoke more eloquently to believers, and to nonbelievers who were paying attention, than the success of a population of believing volunteers measured against the massive and near-total collapse of secular government efforts. The storm laid bare an unmistakable truth. More and more Christians have decided that the only way to reconquer America is through service. The faith no longer travels by the word. It moves by the deed.

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