"We believe that God has a redemptive purpose in the midst of this tragedy," says Danny Wuerffel, Compassion sponsor and Director of Development for Desire Street Ministries. "God takes broken things and uses them for His kingdom. Through the destruction, God has opened the door even wider in New Orleans."
Danny and his wife Jessica left their home shortly before Hurricane Katrina slammed into the coastal town. They only had time to pack a few photos and a change of clothes. Now, those few possessions are all they have. Despite their loss, the Wuerffels' focus is not on themselves but on others suffering in the aftermath of the storm.
You may recognize Danny's name. A former NFL player and 1996 Heisman Trophy winner, he left a successful football career a year and a half ago to join the staff at Desire Street, an inner-city ministry in New Orleans that seeks to provide spiritual and community development through health, education and recreation programs, housing, economic development and church planting.
"I didn't seek out an inner-city ministry," Wuerffel says. "I just sought the Lord."
One of the ministry's key programs is an accredited school in New Orleans for boys in seventh through twelfth grades called Desire Street Academy. Many of the boys come from single-parent homes or live with extended family. Of the 192 boys attending the school, only 60 have been located at various shelters around the country. Danny and the Desire Street team are desperately trying to locate and account for the others. They have created downloadable posters that can be posted at shelters.
"Our top prayer request is that we would find the missing children alive and well," Danny says. "We know that a lot of these kids were in situations where their family didn't leave the city."
Even for the boys who have been accounted for, life in the shelters has been difficult. The utter desperation caused by the destruction of the hurricane has brought out the worst in people and some of the boys have witnessed murders and rapes images that will stick with them for the rest of their lives. Danny would like to find a location to open a satellite boarding school where the boys can get away from that and begin rebuilding their lives.
"We desperately need prayer for the trauma that these children experienced during the disaster," he says.
In addition, Desire Street is in need of funding so the ministry can continue its relief, education and redevelopment efforts. To help, donate online at www.desirestreet.org or send checks to:
Desire Street Ministries
1716 Mangum Rd.
Houston, TX 77092