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Dear friends,

You likely know the story:

Last week Kelleye Rhein was carjacked as she was pumping gas. It happened at Costco off S Carrollton Avenue in the middle of the afternoon. She was pulled across the parking lot, where she fell out of her car while it was moving. Her skull was fractured; her body was bloodied and bruised; she went in and out of consciousness.

Some people hurried to help her – calling 911 and trying to keep her awake. Others continued pumping gas, as if what they were doing was more important than helping a suffering stranger.

I don’t know Kelleye, but I know people who do. You know how it is here. She’s a realtor, wife, mother who loves New Orleans and has built a good life here.

I’ve written about my love for New Orleans several times in these weekly letters I share with you. It’s all still true. But this beautiful, quirky city is experiencing a world of hurt right now. Crime is way up and is extending to places that have always seemed safe. A city where you can’t get gas in the middle of the afternoon is not livable.

I’ve often heard people at Grace say that you want to make a difference in people’s lives but don’t know how. That most of you don’t live in Lakeview, so don’t know neighborhood concerns. We’re being presented with an opportunity here, unwelcome as it is. This recent uptick in crime isn’t limited to Central City or the Lower 9. It extends from New Orleans East to Laplace, from the lake to the river, and includes places like Metairie and River Ridge and Harahan, as well as New Orleans neighborhoods like Uptown and the Garden District and Lakeview. The need is real and immediate, and we all share the same neighborhood.

What to do?

  • Educate yourself on what is going on. There was a Rally for Peace at City Hall yesterday that called for accountability, safety, and justice. It didn’t blame one race or economic class for the problems and asked everyone to be part of the solution. Included with this post you’ll see a couple of pictures from that rally. Find occasions like this and get involved. I especially appreciate that this one represented all of the diversity of NOLA in looking for solutions together. 
  • Pray. Ask God to show you how you can make a difference. Make sure that you listen, then get up and go out and do what God calls you to do.
  • And for God’s sake, if you see someone being carjacked or otherwise injured, go to their assistance. Jesus had something to say about people who continue their business while a neighbor is in need. Reread Luke 10:25-37 to remind yourself.

Grace and peace,
Pastor Kim