Miracle at John Beck Park

By , November 2, 2005

Many times during a disaster the areas most affected are located in lower income areas where crime and drugs are a way of life. It is unfortunate but drug dealers and the criminal element of society often prey on those that live in difficult circumstances. When a disaster strikes the poor of society are often suffer more because of the lack of resources readily available to them. In the midst of all the destruction and suffering, disaster relief volunteers will go into these areas to help put the pieces of their lives together; often at great risk.

For the last several weeks Operation Compassion has many volunteers working in such areas across the Gulf Coast. However, in many locations such as John Beck Park in Biloxi, MS, national Guardsmen have patrolled the area and lived at or around our sites. On Monday, October 31, 2005, the National Guardsmen patrolling the park were relieved of duty and sent to another location. By Monday night the drug dealers and other undesirable elements returned. Even though the volunteers witnessed drug deals happening, they continued their much needed relief work.

Two weeks ago during one of the nightly prayer services at the park, a visitor testified that as she approached the park she saw four angels standing guard at the four corners. She said she knew the volunteer workers would be safe as they continued their ministry to this underprivileged neighborhood. Little did anyone in attendance realize the events that lay ahead.

John Beck Park was one of the most prolific sites in the Biloxi area. Volunteers served approximately 2,000 hot meals each day in addition to the distribution of all types of disaster relief supplies. One of our partners was beginning to build 1,000 homes for survivors without insurance coverage. Another partner had established a dynamic children’s ministry to hundreds of children that survived the hurricane.

However, Tuesday, November 1, 2005 brought a potentially tragic incident into the park and proved once again that volunteers are very vulnerable to their surroundings. It started earlier in the day when several volunteers at the park was threatened if they did not move from the park which was their turf. A week earlier five volunteers were beaten because they did not move.

After the evening meal was served, Lonnie Stewart who serves as Operation Compassion’s hot meal coordinator, state coordinator for disaster relief in Texas and Indian coordinator for Texas and Oklahoma was working around his hot meal cook trailer. Three men approached Lonnie and asked him a question. As Lonnie answered the man he looked up at him not sensing any danger. As Lonnie lowered his head to continue his task, one of the men had slipped in behind him and pulled a gun. With the gun aimed at Lonnie’s head, the man pulled the trigger. Lonnie slumped to the ground bleeding profusely from his head. Obviously, the men thought they had killed Lonnie and made their point with the other volunteers.

When the other volunteers heard the gun shot they came to Lonnie’s aid and rushed him to the local hospital. When Lonnie was examined, the doctors were astonished! The bullet had only grazed Lonnie’s head and did not penetrate his scull! Within an hour and half, Lonnie was back at the park continuing his volunteer work. Undoubtedly, those four angels continued to stand guard when others pulled out and protected Lonnie and the other volunteers. What others mean for harm; God can turn for good!

Continue to pray for all the volunteers that serve in times of disaster in the United States and abroad!

Please send your donations to or contact:

Operation Compassion
David Lorency, International Field Director
423.728-3932 – Office
423.728-3958 – Fax

Operation Compassion
Dr. John D. Nichols, President
David Lorency, International Field Director
Tim Burdashaw, Communications & Development
114 Stuart Road, NE Suite 370
Cleveland, TN 37312
423.728.3932 Office
423.728.3958 Fax
www.operationcompassion.org

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