by John Parker
In our age of “Live” video around the world, we can see firsthand the devastation of natural disasters as they strike, and often feel helpless to alleviate the hurt of those who suffer. There are times when the hurting are close enough geographically to quickly respond to help with creature comforts and necessities. We have sheltered people in our churches and camps and taken work teams of volunteers into those devastated areas to help in tangible ways. Bible Methodists are caring people! But often we are not equipped or prepared to respond with proper aid and comfort to large-scale disasters, especially when they are not close by. What can caring Bible Methodists do in such situation?
Fortunately, we are not left without options. Let me make some suggestions based on past experiences and some specific training to serve as a Crisis Debriefer with NOVA (Nat. Org. for Victim Assistance) during my years pastoring.
- It is possible to organize Disaster Relief Teams when the Disaster is of the magnitude that large-scale volunteer response is needed, and resources are available to put together the transportation, equipping, housing, and supervision of such an effort. This has been done several times with teams of Bible Methodist volunteers responding to assist in tornado recovery efforts in such places as Tuscaloosa, Alabama and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma as well as hurricane relief in DeRidder and Lake Charles, Louisiana. These efforts are most efficient when there are local Bible Methodist Pastors helping to coordinate the teams and facilitate the processes involved in making it work. Don’t ever hesitate to call your pastor or Conference President to volunteer or ask if there is an opportunity to volunteer when disaster strikes! Disasters are times when Bible Methodists can impact communities by being the hands of Christ to the hurting!
- When it is not possible to effectively coordinate Disaster Relief Teams and send them to help the hurting, it is wonderful to know that we have devoted Christian resources that most likely are already on the ground serving to bring relief, counseling, shelter, food, medicine and a variety of other comforts to those who are devastated by disasters. At the very forefront of such effective, gospel-focused ministries is Samaritan’s Purse! Founded by Rev. Franklin Graham. Samaritan’s Purse does disaster relief that is unprecedented and unequaled. Having observed their ministry first-hand and seen the fruits of their ministry, we have chosen to support their ministry for specific disasters as well as their general Disaster Relief ministry. They are not only doing effective ministry through Christian Disaster Relief here in the U.S. but all over the world. You can contact them for their magazine, or to support by these means:
- Web Site :www.samaritanspurse.org
- Address: Samaritan’s Purse, P.O. Box 3000, Boone, NC 28607
- Phone: (828) 262-1980
- The Salvation Army – Perhaps the largest and best known Christian Organization in the world, founded by those who embraced our Wesleyan beliefs, the Salvation Army is well known to most of us. There is usually a local Salvation Army Center that will be coordinating the collection of goods and funds for any significant disaster response. You can also contact them through these means:
- 1-800-SAL-ARMY (1-800-725-2769)
- Salvation Army Disaster Relief, 440 West Nyack Rd., West Nyack, NY 10994
- Missions Organizations: Often, as in the case of the devastating hurricanes that struck the Bahama Islands, or the Earthquake that destroyed much of Haiti, there are sister mission’s organizations already working in those areas who are able to coordinate volunteer teams of relief workers, as well as facilitate the transportation and distribution of goods and relief items to those who are hurting as a result of the disasters. Your Pastor will often know how to contact them, or who to connect with to get that information.
PURPOSE: Our primary purpose and desire in these windows of opportunity afforded us as a result of disasters and the hurt and destruction left behind, is to enable the love of Christ to be shared with the hurting, and Gospel of Hope and Healing to be given! Let this be the mission of all Bible Methodists.