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Church Finds New Home In The "Wilderness"

In 2005, Pastor WIllie Monnet and members of his church began having visions of New Orleans under water. They evacuated the city, not knowing if they would ever return. Read Transcript

NARRATOR: On January 20, 2005, pastor Willie Monnet's sermon

had a troubling prediction for his congregation

in New Orleans.

And God is really having mercy on America,

really, actually, you know?

I mean-- and tremendously, brethren.

I mean, with all the things you see going on with the weather,

and all the stuff like that, it's

going-- New Orlean's could be under water 20,

30 feet in a split second.

NARRATOR: Pastor Monnet started the inner city church in 1996,

and it became a safe haven for many from drugs and violence.

Located east of New Orleans in the city's Ninth Ward

he named it Smoking for Jesus Ministries.

PASTOR MONNET: In Revelation 3:16,

Jesus states, I'd rather you cold or hot,

but if you're lukewarm, he says he will spill you out

of his mouth.

So we named it Smoking for Jesus Ministry, on fire for the Lord,

red hot.

NARRATOR: For pastor Monnet, the church was family,

and he was determined to keep them together and safe.

In faith he and members of the Church

started preparing for the impending disaster.

We haven't even gotten into a fraction of this thing yet.

And, uh, believe me, it's going to get a lot worse before it

gets better.

We still have a 150 mile an hour hurricane out there,

and the worst of it is yet to come.

NARRATOR: They were calling the storm Katrina.

The news reporter showed how tremendous this storm would be,

a category five.

And everybody knew that at some point New Orleans would flood.

NARRATOR: On Saturday, August 27, 2005 the order

came to evacuate.

WILLIAM TUMBLIN: From the time that pastor

told us to start boarding up we were ripping,

and running, and making sure we had enough stuff, and supplies,

and materials.

And you can imagine you're boarding up everything,

then when you finish boarding you got to run home

and try to hurry up and pack, and get ready,

get your family together, and get ready to get out of dodge.

So, it was pretty hectic.

Sunday morning there was an eerie feeling there.

Everything was quiet, and knowing

that something was going to happen tremendous in that city.

NARRATOR: That morning a caravan of over 40 cars

carrying over 200 church members left New Orleans

and headed west towards Texas.

We got in the cars together and expected

to take a journey that would probably only take

about five to six hours.

It turned into 12 hours.

NARRATOR: They came to a retreat center in Lumberton, Texas.

The first thing they did was hold a service.

God blessed that even in Lumberton, we were

able to use their facilities.

One of the things that really stood out

about the whole ordeal is that no matter where we went,

we always did church services.

NARRATOR: By Wednesday, they were

able to watch news reports of the devastation Katrina

and the resulting storm surge was

inflicting on their city and their neighborhood.

NEWS ANCHOR: People are just getting so angry,

and as you've been watching on TV

the floodwaters are still rising in New Orleans this morning.

Total devastation.

Around Biloxi and Gulfport, a couple of streets in,

it sounds like it's flattened.

NEWS ANCHOR 2: New Orleans residents

are still feeling what can only be described as hell on earth.

The water was up to street signs.

That was a reality for us that, wow, our city is under water.

We said, what do you think we should do?

I mean, we-- we're basically homeless.

We have nowhere to go, and so we began to pray.

NARRATOR: After two weeks living in the cramped quarters

of the retreat center, some members

drove back to New Orleans to survey the damage.

Church took about four feet of water.

At 90% humidity, everything was molded.

All our homes were devastated.

We didn't have but three days' clothes that we

took with us for the journey.

NARRATOR: They realized there was nothing

left for them in New Orleans, then just three weeks

after Katrina they learned that another storm, Rita, was

headed straight for Lumberton.

We didn't know which way to turn,

but God did, and he had everything laid out already.

All we had to do was just, sort of say, take our hands

off the wheel and trust him.

NARRATOR: They headed further west to the Texas Hill Country.

Because of the millions feeling the storm,

a 5-hour drive took them 19 hours.

But everywhere they went, they say

God provided all they needed for their journey.

WILLIAM TUMBLIN: Just to see other churches--

they opened up the doors to us, and places

to just be able to go.

Because that's unusual, to just run around with 200 people

and then trying to find somewhere to house them.

Every step of the journey, everything we needed

was always there, and no matter from food, from clothing.

NARRATOR: 40 days after leaving New Orleans,

the church found what they call their promised

land in the Texas Hill Country town of Marble Falls.

It just so happened a brand new apartment complex had just


PASTOR MONNET: Nobody lived in it.

They needed people to live in their apartment complex,

so God sent all these families that needed a place.

We didn't have our own furniture,

so everything was given at that time to 52 families or more.

That was God's miraculous given manna in the wilderness.

NARRATOR: Eventually, the pastor heard

of a nearby property in Burnet, Texas

that was for sale, which included a church, land,

and several adjacent buildings.

When God opened up this place, and the man wanted to sell this

place called us and said, hey, y'all are an ideal match

for the property.

That's part of this miracle.

How would God know that we needed these dormitories?

We needed property to build our house.

We need a church.

We need administration.

We need a cafeteria.

We need a gymnasium for our children.

We need a playground.

Everything was here all ready.

God had prepared everything.

Everything was ready.

NARRATOR: Since settling in the area,

the Church and its members have flourished.

Their many ministries have provided vital services

to the community.

They even opened up a Cajun seafood restaurant,

bringing a little taste of New Orleans

to the Texas Hill Country.

It was definitely a faith journey,

because we didn't know where we were going.

We knew that God had a plan.

We knew that God had a plan.

I said like Moses, I didn't do this.

God did it.

We didn't-- people ask us all the time,

how did you choose Marble Falls?

We didn't know it existed.

You're talking walking by faith now, just trusting God.


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