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Hurricane Katrina damage in Mississippi | U.S. Navy photo

Ministers experience disaster, tragic loss — and now a pandemic

John Dobbs and Les Ferguson Jr. reflect on the 15th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

I first met John Dobbs and Les Ferguson Jr. as a result of Hurricane Katrina.

Through the years, these brothers in Christ have become more than sources to me. They are my friends. I love and appreciate each of them.

I enjoyed catching up with both this week, albeit via Zoom. In our conversation, we talked about this week’s 15th anniversary of Katrina and how that disaster experience was different from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Both Dobbs and Ferguson served as ministers for Churches of Christ on the Mississippi Gulf Coast when Katrina made landfall on Aug. 29, 2005.

Both were active in the disaster relief effort.

Related: A Katrina story: The time I saw Jesus come alive in Pascagoula, Miss.

“I just hope that Christians will realize the massive nature of this destruction,” Dobbs told me in Katrina’s immediate aftermath. “From where I stand, there are people down the street from me living in tents in their front yard. This is going to be a long, long process.”

And it was.

Later, I interviewed both ministers about deep personal tragedies — the death of Dobbs’ 18-year-old son in 2008 and the murders of Ferguson’s wife and 21-year-old son in 2011.

Ferguson wrote a book — “Still Wrestling: Faith Renewed Through Brokenness” — about his journey, and Dobbs is active in grief ministry.

For more on the Katrina anniversary, see my updated interview with Charles, Angela and Willie Marsalis — who survived the storm by escaping to the balcony of the Carrollton Avenue Church of Christ in New Orleans. (We had a few technical difficulties, so the video is a condensed version of my discussion with the Marsalises.)

Also, read Dobbs’ reflections on some of his Katrina heroes from the Central Church of Christ in Pascagoula, Miss.

Join the discussion: What are your memories of Hurricane Katrina?

Filed under: Coronavirus Dialogue disaster relief Gulf Coast Hurricane Katrina John Dobbs Les Ferguson Jr. Mississippi National People Top Stories tragedy

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