LEADERSHIP LESSONS FROM THE CAJUN NAVY

The city of Houston, Texas, in the United States is currently under water. As I write, at least 17,000 people are living in temporary shelters and an unknown number are stranded in their homes, surrounded by water, waiting to be rescued. During these times, stories emerge of common people serving others, often at personal risk. One such group getting a lot of press is the “Cajun Navy”. They are a volunteer group of recreational boat owners rescuing others from flood waters.

 
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Volunteer Boaters

Many people in the US own recreational boats for fishing, water skiing, or just enjoying some of the many lakes and rivers of this country. Now that these waters have flooded the city of Houston, the same boats are being used to save lives and deliver people to the safety.


How to be Prepared

Crisis situations like this emphasize the need for leadership. The best responders are the ones prepared to act whenever disaster happens. As leaders, we need to be ready to mobilize response when unforeseen circumstances happen. Here are four ways we can be prepared whenever disaster strikes.

  1. Have a Strategy. Rescue work begins long before disaster strikes. One of our co-workers at ILI and her husband are part of a disaster relief team. In past storms, they have responded by taking a mobile kitchen and cooking thousands of hot meals for victims and other rescue volunteers. They were trained and certified long ago, with no disaster in sight. Today, they are on standby, ready to be deployed to Houston.
     
  2. Be Prepared to Pay the Price. The so-called “Cajun Navy” is a network of individuals traveling to Houston at their own expense. As one of their volunteers put it, they are just “paying forward,” after having received help when a storm affected their area years ago. 
     
  3. Recognize the Risks.  Flood waters may look calm, but below the surface, debris and objects create risky undercurrents that can be deadly. These conditions can make serving those is these areas dangerous, but that should not deter us from being the living expression of the love of Jesus.
     
  4. Be Prepared to Reap the Rewards. In another dramatic story from the Cajun Navy, a group of volunteers found an elderly woman floating on the water, face down, almost lifeless. They rescued her, she is alive and well, reunited with her family. Imagine the joy of these volunteers, knowing they were at the right place at the right time to save a life.


We live in a fallen world where disaster is inevitable. From the plagues of ancient and medieval times to modern day tsunamis and hurricanes, the Church has been on the forefront of alleviating suffering and helping those affected by disaster.

The teachings of Jesus command action, 
and the Spirit prompts compassion.


Let’s be prepared to lead and act when God calls us to respond.