By Devin Vanderpool, Crosswalk.com
No one would disagree that the United States has faced its share of difficulty this year in the face of natural disaster. Hurricane Harvey brought devastation to the Texas coast; Hurricane Irma destroyed parts of Florida; Puerto Rico is reeling after Hurricane Maria.
Estimated costs of hurricane damage have reached into the trillions. So how are programs like FEMA supposed to cover these costs? The short answer: they can’t. I work with a non-profit called LiveBeyond, part of our mission is to provide aid to those suffering from natural disasters. During our recent relief work in the Houston area, we have already encountered families rejected by FEMA. Apparently, the feet of water in their houses did not merit any financial aid.
And what about undocumented immigrants? What kind of assistance could they ever hope to see? Less than 20% of those affected by Hurricane Harvey had flood insurance. How will Texas, Florida or Puerto Rico recover from such terrible odds?
The short answer: they won’t, at least not with governmental assistance alone. And we, as Christians, cannot stand by and do nothing. The American church has relied on the US government as a crutch for far too long. It is time for Christian organizations and churches to step up and take part in the disaster recovery efforts. We have the manpower, we have the funds, and we have the best motivation in the world: evangelism.
Jesus was a perfect model of this. People understood his identity as the Bread of Life when he passed out loaves to the 5,000. Society comprehended God’s role as the Great Physician when Jesus healed the sick and hurting. And out of His overwhelming love for us, Jesus left us greater works than these.
Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.
I think this year’s hurricane season is an opportunity for us to live out our faith in Jesus. I’ve seen it work already. One of the houses that we helped gut was owned by two bachelor brothers. Both had severe handicaps of different kinds, and both had strayed from their faith. Guess who made it to church the following Sunday because they knew there were people there that loved and cared about them? Those brothers. And I have heard more stories similar to this from the other Christian groups and church denominations that have sent volunteers to Texas and Florida. Who hasn’t heard of Texas Baptist Men and Samaritan’s Purse? Other Christians and churches in the US who haven’t yet done their part for hurricane relief can follow these examples.
It takes hard work. It requires sacrifice. But when we keep in mind that these types of activities are preparing the Bridegroom for the Return of the King, and actually hastening that return, how can we keep ourselves from doing it?
Let us rejoice and exult and give Him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure’ – for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. -Revelation 19:7-8
Are people saved by works? No. We know that grace saves us. But it is by our works that people recognize our faith. (James 2:14-26) This is our chance to show the world precisely who Jesus is.
Christians, let’s involve ourselves in the recovery efforts from Harvey, Irma, and Maria. Christian businesses, non-profits, and churches: use your funding, expertise, and workers to expand the Kingdom through outreach. The American Church hasn’t had the best PR recently, but together we can change the face of the Church to better reflect the light of Jesus. Let’s let our light shine before men so that others will come to know Jesus because they know what He looks like.
Devin Vanderpool is the Director of Communications for LiveBeyond. To find our how you can partner with LiveBeyond or donate to their relief efforts visit http://livebeyond.org/waystohelp/.
Image Credit: ©Thinkstock/Spaceliner