Tornadoes ravaged the midwest last week, and the footage from communities that have been devastated continues to dominate across our television screens and social media feeds. The recent increase in the frequency and intensity of global natural disasters like hurricanes and forest fires can make this moment in history feel apocalyptic. The word “apocalypse” comes from the Greek apokálypsis, or “uncovering.” Apocalyptic moments “take the cover off” what is hidden to reveal stark truths about what’s happening in the world. These heightened natural disasters are lifting the eyes of many to raise awareness about our changing environment.
In this immediate moment, these and other weather crises spur believers to take action to meet the needs of affected people all over the world. This is how we put hands and feet on the call to love our neighbors. Here are several ways you can heal the broken, bless the poor, and feed the hungry, right now, to meet the needs of a community in crisis:
Give to Faith-Based Organizations
While you may be tempted to try to organize sending supplies, the most efficient way to meet the needs for families is to give financially. Families have lost their jobs and their homes, and more than anything right now they need access to resources to simply survive. Several faith-based organizations have started disaster relief funds specific to the regions affected.
The South Carolina Baptist Convention has organized a disaster relief fund and will be deploying nearly 2,000 volunteers from the region to support both the spiritual and physical needs of members of the community. Tornadoes inflict a particular kind of trauma on their victims, and chaplains, pastors, and other faith leaders can help people work through the initial days and weeks of grief and shock that accompany such devastating loss. You can give to support the individuals affected by visiting scbaptist.org/give.
The Salvation Army’s Disaster Relief Fund provides food, drinks, shelter, emotional and spiritual care and other emergency services to survivors and rescue workers. When you give to catastrophe relief, 100% of your donation goes toward the victims. You can designate whether you want your gift to apply to tornado relief for those affected in Missouri and Illinois or for those in Arkansas, Kentucky, and Tennessee.
World Vision is currently organizing the shipment of supplies to churches in Kentucky beginning this Sunday. You can help cover the expenses of food and emergency kits, heaters, blankets, solar lights and mini-refrigerators. Visit World Vision’s Disaster Relief in the U.S. giving page to help.
Due to the rise in COVID cases and hospitalizations across the country, there has already been a blood shortage, which is only exacerbated by this latest crisis. If you are able to give blood, the Kentucky Blood Center’s interactive map can show you the nearest donor center’s operating hours and how to help meet the needs of the injured throughout the region.
Pray for the Victims
The mystery of the Spirit of God is no more evident than in the power of prayer to meet the emotional and spiritual needs of a community in crisis. While giving financially and donating what you can to help is critical, so is the Spirit’s ability to calm the storm and give peace that passes all understanding.
Commit to praying for the victims of the tornadoes now and in the weeks to come. Here are some specific ways you can be praying:
- Pray that God’s peace would descend into the hearts of those who are grieving and in shock
- Pray that God’s Spirit would move through people who are serving to minister other people’s needs
- Pray that the people who are serving others in these communities would find their energy and hope renewed through God’s love, that they may not grow weary of doing good
- Pray that the people affected would have their every need met, and that through that generosity and outpouring of love, they might see God’s love for them
The damage caused by these natural disasters has lasting effects that communities will be healing from for months, even years. Set a reminder on your calendar to prompt you to remember those who are still struggling in the weeks and months ahead.
Organize a Dedicated Church Collection this Sunday
When we’re far removed from the painful realities of the crisis in other communities, it’s our opportunity to come together as a body of Christ to help out our weaker members. When one leg of our body is broken, the rest of the limbs step up to serve.
Rally your local church to take a special offering this Sunday to support one of the organizations above.
In these few weeks leading to Christmas, we all have so much to be grateful for, and if we have the privilege and luck to be in a home, with a family, with gifts under the tree, we also have the opportunity to bless those who just had all of that ripped away. Let us respond in faith to the immediate needs of our fellow travelers on this great, beautiful, troubled globe, and look for ways to reduce these incidences, to lessen the suffering of affected communities around the world.