Albany chaplain's spiritual help continues - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Albany chaplain's spiritual help continues

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August 28, 2006

Albany--  This time a year ago, many people on the Gulf Coast were heading for safer ground or boarding up their homes and hoping Hurricane Katrina wouldn't be so bad. It turned out to be the costliest natural disaster in US history.

Hundreds of thousands of people lost their home.  Some may have even lost their faith. A little religion helped bring that faith back to the surface.  

The wrath and enormous damage left by Hurricane Katrina was more than enough to test anyone's faith.

"We say we have faith but when things come crumbling down, that's when we're tested," says Shirley Gammage.

It's Gammage's job to help get people through those tests.  One tool she uses is the Holy Bible.  She keeps it open, right at her front door.

"When I come through the door, I touch that Bible symbolizing I made it through the day, no hurt or harm," says Gammage. Families full of hurt evacuated to local hotels where Gammage serves as chaplain. She had to use the power of prayer to help those who felt abandoned and questioned their faith.

"They became powerless in the sense of Where was God? How could he allow things to happen like this?," says Gammage. She let them know that the answer isn't always easy in the time of a storm.

"Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen," says Gammage. And by the end of the storm, she saw and helped more than 10 families move from doubt  to a new direction. "To hear a year later you were there for me and you helped me to not lose my mind or commit suicide, it's a gift," says Gammage.

It's an unexpected gift from Katrina that's even changed her life and has her saying I love you more. "Just touched my life and I do that, just tell my mother I love you mommy," says Gammage. But she says it all comes back to the holy book.  She also touches it when she leaves home.

"To go in peace and come back in peace," says Gammage. She's armed with it's power to assist anyone who's peace is disturbed.

"I'm ready. I'm ready," says Gammage. She's ready to step in when the storm tests the faith.  

Many of those families are now her friends.  Many have made homes here in the Good Life City. Gammage says some have made a good transition, while some still have some anger after all the devastation.  

Gammage serves as a chaplain for three hotels in the area. She's on-call for any guests who need spiritual guidance.

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