The last several weeks have been tough for those in our area due to disaster. Some disaster has been natural, as in the tornado in Oklahoma, the other an accident, as in the explosion in West. But, the biggest question people ask when a disaster strikes is “How can I help, practically.”
The point is clear, most know that we should pray when difficult circumstances hit, but so many of us feel a little helpless because our theology of loving our neighbor means more than just praying, it requires action. See, prayer with action, like faith with works, go hand in hand. I personally believe you can’t have one without the other. Additionally, we shouldn’t just pray and leave everything up to God to fix the hurt, in embracing the hurt, and wiping the tears – we should participate in this. Will God do those things? Absolutely, but I believe He most often chooses to use people to be that ministering touch. This is the gift of ministry God has give man to minister to other men when they hurt. It’s why He calls us priests (see 1 Peter 2:9).
The problem is that often our response just isn’t helpful. After the disaster took place in West, I saw people loading up huge trailers full of clothes, food, diapers, among other things that eventually overwhelmed the people in West. What many do not realize is when we give items like this, out of sincerity and goodness of heart, someone at the disaster location has to sort these items out. This requires work, a lot of it. This requires time, a lot of it. Ultimately, those on the field are already overwhelmed, and to add more could ultimately do more damage than intended. As a side note, a better way would be partner with a church locally who already has volunteers ready to receive the items, and then are able to distribute said items. Another positive way is simply to donate financially to Disaster Relief. PLEASE do not just send stuff when you aren’t aware of what is actually needed!
When I arrived to First Bellville, one of the early observations I had was that the demographic of our church lends itself to many retired individuals. Like college students, they had something most working class middle-age people do not have – disposable time. So, I wanted to start us down the road of participating in Disaster Relief. By God’s grace, we had several people in our church that were very involved in DR and were eager to see the vision cast for it as well. I was, and it’s been a blessing to participate in.
Several weeks ago, we had a DR training hosted at our little bitty church. Praise God!!! It was/is a wonderful way for our church to participate when disaster comes, like the ones recently. Here are four reasons why:
1. It equips people to help in practical ways when disaster comes, allowing them to be a true blessing to those hurting.
2. It benefits your local church because when disaster hits locally, or regionally, you know exactly how your church is able to contribute, immediately.
3. Involved men and women in pastoral care. I now have 25 individuals equipped for pastoral care – this is huge! In fact, I’ve already seen some of them use this training already!
4. It causes your people to consider ministry beyond their comfort level. For some, this has set them on a new path of ministry that they never dreamed. It really has been encouraging to see!
The awesome thing is that our people can now serve in a hospital, or serve in the volunteer fire and police departments as they have been trained to council with people. Or people have no excuse to serve. It truly is amazing. But ultimately, people feel like they’re being used properly and wisely during a disaster. They know what to do and when to do it.
So, if you’re a Pastor or even a layperson in your church, you should consider participating in Disaster Relief. It will bless you and your church. Go HERE to find out more!