While churches can’t care for all global disaster victims on their own, they can and do come in after rescue efforts to aid communities.
Earthquakes, hurricanes and tornadoes aren’t going away any time soon, but neither are those who help in the midst of them.
As the remnants of Hurricane Harvey continue to pound Houston and far beyond, we are reminded of the words of Fred (Mr.) Rogers, when he explained how he would comfort children watching disasters unfold on television.
His answer, “Look for the helpers.”
Disasters come unpredictably, as did Harvey. But, the response to such disasters follows a distinct pattern, and that pattern consistently involves the disproportionate presence of people of faith.
Churches don’t do everything, but they come in after the immediate needs of rescue, starting to get involved during emergency relief, but are mostly mobilized during recovery.
Government is essential in the rescue stage — they have the equipment and means to move that equipment. The Coast Guard and the Federal Emergency Management Agency are hard at work right now. Yet, their work alone is insufficient to rebuild the homes and lives of people impacted by natural disasters each year. In fact, over the past decades, we have seen a growing acknowledgement (from government, no less) of the reliable role of faith-based organizations.
According to Partnerships for the Common Good, a toolkit produced by the Obama White House, “nonprofit organizations, including faith-based and community organizations, play a vital role in both preparing for disaster, and in ensuring an inclusive and participatory community-wide recovery from a disaster.” Even further, “these organizations directly supplement and fill gaps where government authority and resources cannot be applied.”
While churches alone certainly can’t command the forces necessary to care for all global disaster relief victims on their own, they can and do come in after the rescue efforts and are often mobilized during recovery to aid victims and their families.
Since there is no central reporting system, it is difficult to determine actual numbers. However, some denominations have rough numbers. For example, Kevin Ezell, who leads the agency charged with Southern Baptist…