Biloxi Baptist Church Rises From Rubble

"I'm very happy to show you our church," said Pastor Trung Tran as he greeted a group of Alabama volunteers Thursday morning.

The pastor welcomed the volunteers to his church on Oak Street, hoping to convince them that he really needs their help.

"This means a lot to us, the Vietnamese church, because we don't have the money to rebuild," said Pastor Tran.

"It's just amazing to see the devastation that's here," said Pastor Greg Corbin. He heads a group of 27 volunteers from Cropwell Baptist Church in Dell City, Alabama.

Vietnamese Baptist Church collapsed under Katrina's flood waters.

"We were crying, crying, crying," said Pastor Tran. "And the whole neighborhood was gone. Spiritually, I believe God will help us to rebuild. How?  We didn't know."

Volunteers showed up to clear the debris and another group raised the framework of the sanctuary.

"They saw the house of the Lord destroyed, and they saw me sitting there day by day," said Pastor Tran. "I call them the golden hearts, because they have golden hearts. They have loving hearts. They come here."

Pastor Tran says he needs more volunteers to finish the job. For now, members are holding services at another church in Biloxi, and only a third of the congregation has returned. The pastor truly believes that once the church is rebuilt, his church family will be whole again.

"So this is the Grace of God," said Pastor Tran. "We call it the miracle on Oak Street."

Pastor Tran has faith his church will come back stronger. After all, the baptistery survived for a reason.

"It symbolizes that the salvation of the Lord, Jesus Christ, lasts forever," he said. "The storm cannot wash it away."

Before the volunteers left, they gathered for a short prayer: "We pray that you will send more laborers to the harvest here in Biloxi in your name. Amen."

"God bless you," Pastor Tran told the volunteers as he shook their hands. "Thank you and God bless you."

Pastor Tran says if he gets additional help, he hopes to reopen Vietnamese Baptist Church by the end of the year.