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June 22nd, 2010
01:07 PM ET

Keeping faith in the Gulf

I'm down on the Gulf coast again, my third trip since the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster began on April 20. Driving to our live shot position at the Bridge Side Marina, I was struck by the number of churches along the LA-1, the road into Grand Isle, Louisiana. The small fishing community has been hammered by the oil spill. As you cross the bridge into Grand Isle, you can see the yellow boom fighting the oil from lapping up onto the beaches.


I was producing CNN anchor Kyra Phillips for the big Larry King Live telethon to raise money for the Gulf. We struck up a conversation with Martin and Tina Rabalaif. They moved to Grand Isle after Hurricane Katrina struck the region in 2005 to start building homes. Martin had owned a CPA firm in Texas but sold it before Hurricane Katrina and had transitioned into his next career.  Family members encouraged them to move to the Gulf to be part of the recovery from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. So the Rabalaifs invested their savings into building a home on Grand Isle. Now they're afraid they won't be able sell it.

When the oil spill hit work completely dried up for Martin. Now they're waiting to see what happens next. One thing they're holding on fast to is their faith.

Kyra had a chance to talk to them about their strong church community on the island and the necklace Tina wears as a tangible reminder of where her faith anchors.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Catholic Church

soundoff (27 Responses)
  1. Billy

    Noted British Petroleum apologist Congressman Joe Barton “The Oil Man” should suit up and help with the clean up instead of apologizing to British Petroleum for America while he wraps himself up in the Flag and the Bible. Next thing he will say the cause of the oil spill is God’s wrath because women in Bikini’s are walking on Florida beaches!

    June 24, 2010 at 1:19 pm |
  2. Joe

    I'm going to pray for a time machine that can take me back in time before the spill so I can prevent it. It's just about as realistic as praying for anything else.

    Hey God, you listening?

    June 23, 2010 at 1:10 pm |
    • Umme Omar

      Tust me even if you did have that time machine of yours to go back in time, you will still go for oil drilling in ocean. A person does not have to be a believer to know what bad consequences can take place if there is an oil spill in ocean. Oil spills in deserts can be curbed but ocean oil spills can't. A true believer is careful about his or her decisions because he or she has to answer to God but a non believer does not have this approach.

      June 23, 2010 at 1:58 pm |
  3. PATRICIA

    I read an article today about the poor dolphins running out of space in the water because of the oil and soon will probably die because of it. I wish some organization and volunteers could try and round them up or get as many as possible and transfer them to below the affected area so they can get into open waters away from the oil. My heart was breaking while reading that story.

    June 23, 2010 at 10:21 am |
    • Scottish Mama

      I wonder about this also. I also wondered if they took pictures of the coastline before the oil hit the coast? If they could do hydroponics on the plantlife to restore the vegetation? If they could build crab,shrimp and oyster beds, bird sactuaries and fish farms on land to replenish the sea once the manmade disaster subsides?
      How about BP paying for schooling for the cajin people to make a living in alternative energy?
      Thank you Kevin Costner for you wondering if you could help.

      June 23, 2010 at 10:35 am |
  4. Scottish Mama

    If christians want to help so help. Churches in our area help with food pantries for the hungry and hope for the hopeless.
    Ana even if you don't believe in a god, you can have focus, positive thoughts, and help people with an oil spill. (meditation)God has nothing to do with the spill, man does. How we treat and help our fellow human beings in a crisis shows the human spirit.
    I am not a religious person per say, but I help when I can, I treat people fairly, and do unselfish anonymous acts that no one knows to help neighbors and people that are in need. I get something from that, warm and fuzzy inside.
    Another hurricane will throw the oil onshore.

    June 23, 2010 at 10:17 am |
  5. hhm

    Comments from non-believers like these only prove even Atheism has missionaries. God bless you.

    June 23, 2010 at 9:46 am |
  6. Ana

    What prayer does is to focus the mind and heart in single pointed clarified thought toward a positive outcome. That is it's value; keeping thoughts positive. That single-minded intention, engaging the emotions of desire plus spiritual certainty that good will prevail brings about miracles. One has to experience it to understand the all-encompasing power of God, good.

    June 23, 2010 at 2:49 am |
    • Selfish Gene

      Two steps to a positive outcome.
      1. Accept responsibility for your own actions.
      2. Work to better the life of your family.

      Two steps to perpetual victim-hood
      1. Pray and wait.
      2. Wait and pray.

      June 23, 2010 at 9:28 am |
    • Sybaris

      Apparently 5,999,999 Jews didn't do enough praying to your God. It took 7 years for that last holdout to pray and bring about a miraculous end to the Holocaust. Right.

      June 23, 2010 at 12:29 pm |
  7. Alan

    Anyone know how wide the hole is at the bottom of the gulf that is spewing out all of that oil? I'm just looking for some perspective.

    June 23, 2010 at 12:37 am |
    • bill

      the pipe is reported to be about 20 inches in diameter.

      June 23, 2010 at 9:09 am |
  8. gqonestar

    this oil catstrophe is a sign, "biblical sign" at that, every one`s 2 stuck with technology and are ignoring the sign of christ coming the sea will turn red, all signs r there "hussein obama" as the antichrist he himself wouldn`t believe it thats my opinion

    June 22, 2010 at 11:38 pm |
    • bill

      one would thin with all the "evil" democrats up north God would have found a way to punish them instead of all the "good" christan folks down south the same way he did with Katrina. maybe God is a little smarter than us and he knows the people who feel they have to wear God on their chests arent as good christians as they would like everyone to think. Im sure there is a little "God is ripped at us for being such pigs" with the planet he gave us to live on for a little while mixed in for good measure.

      June 23, 2010 at 9:14 am |
    • Selfish Gene

      So, Obama is the anti-christ and god punishes his followers who did not elect him? All the while rewarding those who did.

      Yeah, that is a sound theory.

      June 23, 2010 at 9:25 am |
  9. Reality

    Most if not all will be well-compensated by BP. Unfortunately, many will pad their bills violating Christian ethics.

    June 22, 2010 at 11:35 pm |
  10. CubanMom

    As a believer, I believe in the power of prayer. However, the people who are against the drilling moratorium, who are against protecting God's creation because of the almighty dollar, make me wonder what "god" they really believe in.

    June 22, 2010 at 5:35 pm |
    • Umme Omar

      CubanMom i agree with you, They don't believe in God. Otherwise they would not discourage us from praying. At least we are praying. What are they doing other than poking fun at the believers. What good are they for? It is such a big mass, it is time for reflection. Why are we so addicted for oil. We should explore green energy. People who love God, love His creation and they are doing everything they can to solve this problem. But people who don't believe in God, they just follow their desires. Lust and greed to control the world by finding oil reseves in the ocean.

      June 22, 2010 at 6:10 pm |
    • Sybaris

      So you are against people who find a natural resource (oil) that was created by natural forces inherent to your Gods creation. The irony is the oil fuels your car to get to church so you can pray to a man-made diety.

      June 23, 2010 at 12:15 pm |
    • Umme Omar

      Yes I am totally against those people who instead of exploring green energies, are drilling oil in ocean. All fossil fuels give away carbon in atmosphere upon burning. Carbon is causing many problems on earth including global warming. When I started reading Quran, I began to admire the His wonderful cration around me and take care of it and that made me an evironmentalist. I am a believer and I follow the commands of the Creator of Universe and so I want to take care of it and be rewarded on the day of judgment , On the other hand non believes follow their desires to gain power in this world. For them this world and its pleasures are everything. They really don't care what damage an ocean oil spill can cause to humanity. They live for themselves.

      June 23, 2010 at 1:52 pm |
  11. Jane Freeman

    Tina Rabalaif and her husband are major volunteer forces in their community. It is many of the church communities in the impacted areas that are providing food, shelter and other works of goodwill to those have suffered at the hands of this disaster. Do not patronize the different ways in which people help. Not everyone can be on the beaches or the boats.

    June 22, 2010 at 5:28 pm |
  12. Reality

    The next level 5 hurricane will clean it all up. Alleluia!!!

    June 22, 2010 at 5:09 pm |
  13. Brandon

    Keep kneeling and clasping your hands together and doing nothing. The real heroes aren't the religious do-nothings, it's the hard workers who are on the beaches actually doing something and cleaning the mess up instead of praying to non-existent deities.

    June 22, 2010 at 3:28 pm |
    • Interested

      You know what I love about these stories? You got the atheists going out of their way, reading, and commenting on something that they supposedly "don't believe in" If you don't believe in God, why do you feel like you have to come on here and have your say of "non belief"? Do us a favor and go talk about you "non-belief" on an atheist blog.

      June 22, 2010 at 6:17 pm |
    • Selfish Gene

      It is our duty to expose the false deity worship for what it is.
      Why do christians and muslims alike try to convert the heathen masses? Why don't YOU go find a blogosphere to convert?

      June 23, 2010 at 9:29 am |
    • Sybaris

      @ Interested. Why do we do it? Because it's people like you who put people in power like GWB who believe your diety has led them to believe that waging war is the right thing to do but, on the other hand slaughtering hundreds of thousands of innocent people would be keeping in character with your diety, just read your Bible.

      June 23, 2010 at 11:44 am |
    • righteous-in-Christ

      What are you doing to make this better? Seeing you here bashing those who beleive in God ain't going to help the spilled oil!!

      June 23, 2010 at 1:56 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.