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In the Big Easy, despair meets hope (reporting from New Orleans): In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, church planters see God at work in a ‘dark and difficult part of New Orleans.’

NEW ORLEANS — Charles and Angela Marsalis survived the flood that followed Hurricane Katrina by escaping to the balcony of their home congregation, the Carrollton Avenue Church of Christ.

Later, the couple returned to Hollygrove — the high-crime New Orleans neighborhood where both grew up — to share Jesus with boys and girls on the front porch of a relative’s hurricane-damaged home.

From those studies emerged the planting of the Hollygrove Church of Christ.

On a recent Sunday, the congregation celebrated its fifth anniversary with a standing-room-only crowd filling the 100 or so seats in a small, red-brick church building.

A siren wailed in the background as the back door opened and another worshiper squeezed into the assembly.

“You better keep God in your life because people are getting killed in their own home or robbed in their own neighborhood,” church member John Ellis told the congregation. “We need the church in the neighborhood and the neighborhood in the church.”

Too often, despair in the form of drugs, gangs and prostitution besets Hollygrove.

This story appears in the March 2014 print edition of The Christian Chronicle.

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