After a massive disaster like Hurricane Harvey, there are thousands of people in need of physical help and spiritual hope. Some are grieving the loss of loved ones, some are desperate after losing their homes. All of them are hurting deeply. Some may already know Jesus, but many do not.
Times such as these present a unique opportunity for the Church as the whole world watches. There are two basic responses that Jesus-followers may choose:
1) Turn in, or 2) Reach out.
It's natural to "turn in," especially if one has personally been affected by a disaster. Turning in is the approach of just worrying about one's own circle, one's own family and friends, one's own house and property, one's own church, etc. It's almost instinctive for human beings to do this. We are protective and we are concerned.
There's nothing wrong with this! In fact, it is scripturally appropriate to manage and take care of one's own household as a general priority (1 Timothy 3:4-5). However, when a crisis strikes our greater community, affecting many more families, neighborhoods, and properties than just our own, we as Jesus-followers are presented with a unique opportunity to "reach out" instead of just turning in.
At IDES, we believe that disasters and other crisis situations are indeed one of the best, most effectual opportunities to share Christ with those in need.
Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God."
For the past several days, the IDES staff has had the pleasure of witnessing a nation-wide outpouring of faithful love and generous support for those who have been affected by Hurricane Harvey. Our phone has rang non-stop, and our social media profiles have overloaded with offers of help and hope. It is absolutely beautiful to see Jesus-followers from myriad backgrounds, traditions, and locations gather together to help those in need.
But, most beautiful of all is the reaching-out response of the local churches in the affected areas. Instead of turning in, these brothers and sisters of ours are taking the call to respond to this disaster with Christ at the forefront seriously. They have thrown open their church doors to welcome in anyone who is in need of shelter. They have already begun "mud-out" operations and tearing out molded dry-wall in the surrounding neighborhoods. They are continuing to organize provisions of basic necessities for all who are hungry or thirsty or cold. These local churches are using Hurricane Harvey as an opportunity to share Christ.
As you have already demonstrated in the past week, it is clear that you, too are willing to use disasters as an opportunity to share Christ. Even if you are thousands of miles away from a crisis situation, you can make hope possible by coming alongside of the local churches in the affected areas both in prayer and in generous giving.
This is the core of IDES' identity. We want to help you help others by connecting you with our global network of local churches and missions who are ready to share Christ. And, if or when a disaster strikes your own community, our network will be waiting and eager to help you and to come alongside of you as you "reach out" to other families in need.
If you have already given towards our Hurricane Harvey response, thank you so much. You are making hope possible, and we could not do this without you. If you are unable to give, that is okay! We ask that you would pray for the families who have lost their homes or have lost loved ones, for the local churches who are now responding, for the many brave first responders who are conducting rescues, and for IDES' US Disaster Response Coordinator as he organizes relief. Thank you for partnering with us!
-written by Chase Cotten, Media Director at IDES