Like you, when I read of the descriptions of the kind of disaster hurricane Harvey hammered the shores of Texas in the gulf over the weekend (and still beating down), I am moved with compassion for all. It is good to think and plan about how to respond to times like this in advance. This way I’ve done my best to give direction to my heart before my heart leads me astray.
For me, the place of engagement is the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief ministry. This is a place I can send money, this is a place I have volunteered, this is a place that has a high level of accountability for the funds and integrity given to those in need. I’ve responded to needs in Idaho, Utah, and Colorado over the years with time by volunteering in a feeding unit that responds to needs for food for relief workers and or displaced people. I’ve sent money and directed my church to send money for needs in Louisiana, Mississippi, California, Texas, Indonesia directly and all places indirectly through general gifts to local, state, and national partnership with kinsmen in the faith.
If you are looking for a safe accountable place to give to meet immediate needs, I recommend only the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief Ministry. Contact me for information on how you can do this if you want.
Any gifts given to Southern Baptist Disaster Relief Ministry go directly to the ministry. None of this money stops at any level along the way like many other relief efforts do.
Eastside Baptist Church has just been established as a disaster relief emergency shelter for anyone displaced due to ongoing regional flooding in Southern Idaho. If you are aware of anyone needing this kind of assistance please send them to 204 Eastland Drive North in Twin Falls, Idaho. The shelter is open 24 hours a day and will be available at least through the weekend and longer, as needed, as flood waters are displacing people from their homes.
Share this information throughout the magic valley.
As hurricane Matthew begins to assault the East coast of the US, it has already left a path of disaster in the Caribbean. By the grace of God, as hurricane Matthew swiped Haiti, our girls home was virtually untouched even as flooding and worse was wide spread.
Disasters like this remind us of the plight of humanity in the wake of tragedy.
What can be done?
What should be done?
There are few things that I weigh when I begin to assess and check my emotions as the news begins to spread of the hardships many are in in days like today.
First; it is right to respond. There are two things here:
- Americans (not just Christians) are generous people. It is our way.
- More than being Americans, as a born again follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, as described by the Holy Bible, our new DNA is to behave toward others the way we would want to be treated. I wouldn’t use the parable teaching of the “Good Samaritan” be my instructional text on kindness toward strangers. As good of a story as that is I think it is best applied to the Gospel. One might get more people motivated to help with a good story like the “Good Samaritan”, but does one need to muster up motivation from a story to move God’s people to respond? Well, that’s a topic for another day. It’s who we are. It’s what we do. But we are not simply humanitarians. We have a Gospel mandate to the nations.
Second; how do we respond? There are at least four primary ways for Christians to respond.
- Pray. This is not the easy way out. This is not to simply ease the conscience. We pray. We pray alone. We pray together. We ask God to help.
- Gather helpful items. This can get complicated. Usually along the way we will hear of physical things that are needed. When we hear of things it is vitally important that we give what is actually being asked for. I’ve seen the rooms packed with winter coats, snow tires, ski gloves, and other useless items in tropical islands. It’s not a question of the genuine desire to help by those who send things, it’s a matter of helpful help.
- Give. There will raise up a great out pouring of financial ways to help. Saints of the Lord, we love to give. I say to you, be disciplined in who you give to. There are “good” things that nearly every charitable organization can do. But the reality is that many charitable organizations are pilfering the common goodness of humanity for financial gain. I wouldn’t forbid anyone from giving to any organization but let me caution you to investigate any organization you give to before you give. There is one organization I don’t hesitate to warn you of: the United Nations, UNICEF. Yes, they will help in some ways that you will be thankful for, but largely, UNICEF is no friend of the Christian work around the world. I highly recommend the Disaster Relief Ministry of the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. Any designated contribution given through a local church to Disaster Relief will go to the location and immediate needs of the current disaster. Paid staff of Disaster Relief get their funding through local churches, associations, networks, and state conventions. Money given to Disaster relief is not stopped and pilfered through at administrative levels before going to the need, It’s not needed because Baptists have already put a mechanism in place before disasters even arrive. Check with your local church on how you can do this.
- Go. This gets as complicated as any in the response. There is need for many to go. It will be required. Recovery in days of disaster are extremely difficult. The long work of clean up is no glamorized work. But help will be needed. Again, the best is to check with your local church and find out what you can do and how to get prepared to go. Some of you would be ready today, others would need time to prepare, both will be needed.
*edited because of a few grammar issues.