I’m sure many of you vividly remember Hurricanes Katrina and Rita which devastated the coast of the United States over a decade ago. And, you’ve likely been watching news reports of the recent havoc created by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma produced here in the US, as well as earthquakes and hurricanes that have caused substantial destruction in other parts of the world. With these kinds of disasters, and many others of varying sizes, we can feel powerless to make a positive impact. Something in our hearts tells us that we should help, but how?
One problem is that our resources often seem insignificant in light of the mounting costs to recover, repair and rebuild. Another is that we know, all too well, that sometimes the money or items we give never make it to their intended destinations. Unfortunately, disasters like this bring out people who are willing to line their own pockets with gifts given in good faith for others. Additionally, we don’t want to send our discarded clothes and household items to people who have already lost everything, causing them to sort through mounds of what really needs to be thrown away, to find a few items to get them through the initial crisis.
This is one of those times where being a part of a denomination can come in VERY handy. The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) has been active in disaster situations through the Week of Compassion for many years. As a result, they (we) are very adept at providing help that is truly helpful and organizing recovery efforts that empower those most affected by the disaster, and those wanting to be of some help, to live into being the Body of Christ.
Over the past weeks I have heard many stories of Week of Compassion, and other organizations within the Disciples reaching out to pastors and churches most affected by these disasters. It is reminiscent of the outpouring of support felt in Joplin following the tornado which devastated that community several years ago. That tragedy gave me a front-row seat to see how caring and organized our church can be in helping to bring wholeness and healing in trying times.
In an article for Patheos (www.patheos.com) Rev. Caroline Hamilton-Arnold, Associate Director for Week of Compassion wrote about the response to Hurricane Harvey; “Week of Compassion will continue to be in communication with Disciples in the affected areas and to monitor the ongoing situation. Together with the area and region, we are working to get support to the families and churches that have experienced damage from the floods. We are also looking toward long-term recovery, which we anticipate will take several years. Harvey has been cataclysmic, but we, followers of a Christ who broke even the bonds of death, know about actions that produce great change. We will continue to act, together.
The best way to support those affected by Harvey is to give!
This recovery will take years, and volunteers will be needed throughout that time. Right now, however, outside volunteers are a hindrance to immediate relief efforts. In the coming weeks and months, once the local communities are ready, we will share about opportunities to volunteer. We will work with many partners including our local churches, Area ministers, Region and others to respond to the rebuilding for years to come and will invite the church to serve. In the meantime, consider volunteering in another location where communities are still recovering from prior disaster.
Please consider donating to Week of Compassion to support these communities that have been impacted by Harvey. 100% of your gifts designated for hurricane relief will provide immediate relief and long-term rebuilding in the days, weeks, and years ahead. Thank you.”
If you would like to designate part of your offering, or make a special offering to support recovery efforts, please indicate that in the memo of your check, or make that note on the outside of the offering envelope. We will also have a special offering plate in the foyer should you desire to give in that way. Whether or not you can support the recovery effort financially, I do hope that you will hold the entire community affected by these storms in your thoughts and prayers.