Over the past several weeks, natural disasters have brought devastation to various parts of our country. First it was Hurricane Harvey bringing destruction to the Texas Coast. Then it was Irma hitting the Florida Keys and the coastal areas of Florida. As these storms brought their destruction, a large area of Montana is being ravaged by wildfires. These disasters have brought with them loss of homes and natural resources, destruction of property, and even loss of life. William Long, administrator of FEMA, predicted that the recovery from Harvey would take many years before we returned to normal. Federal and state agencies, community groups, non-profit relief agencies, and many others have joined together to reach out to those in need.
It is important that we ask ourselves, "As Christians, what is our response to these disasters and how do we reach out to those in need?" Here are some practical ways that we can help.
PRAYER — As followers of Christ, we need to fix our eyes on the God who promises his presence in the storms of life. We must, as individuals, and in concert with fellow believers, pray for the victims of these disasters.
GIVE — We can help both the relief workers and the victims by providing clothing, blankets, and food. Donations of money can be applied where they are needed most, but choose your channel for giving carefully. Make certain that your donation will go to those who need it rather than to an organization will use the funds for personal use.
VOLUNTEER — Some of us might be in a position to volunteer to work for organizations such as the American Red Cross or the Salvation Army. Many churches are sending ministry groups to help by fixing damaged drywall, flooring, roofs, and clearing debris.
One thing we must remember, this is not a short-term problem. These storms have produced major damage and we must be prepared to be involved long-term.
Heavenly Father, you are present with those who suffer from these natural disasters. We pray that those affected may feel your healing presence. You are in the hands of those who reach out to help those in need. We pray for those first responders in their courageous work. Help us to be faithful to pray for those who are suffering. Help us also to reach out in any way we can to help relieve their suffering. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.