Since the year 2000, we have witnessed a multitude of record breaking disasters across the globe. From killer tornadoes to life-shattering earthquakes, from massive tsunamis to mega-storm hurricanes, disasters are dark times of pain and loss.
Disaster Relief is neither simple, nor easy. It can be complicated, messy, and difficult. Disaster work can be frustrating and heart-breaking. Through Disaster Relief ministry, the church has an opportunity to penetrate the darkness with the light of Jesus Christ.
Disaster Relief generates a platform for the Gospel to those who are inaccessible and unreached. Disasters open doors to plant churches where they have not existed before, and to share the Good News with those who are resistant to Christ.
As followers of Jesus, Disaster Relief offers opportunities for us to:
- Engage unreached peoples. Disasters create access to unreached people groups around the world. In our backyard, tragic events also open doors to neighbors in our community that have previously been inaccessible.
- Enter doors. People worldwide are more responsive to the Gospel in the security of their home. This is particularly true in cultures where believers are persecuted. Disasters have the ability to open doors previously closed.
- Care for the needy. Offering a hand of help is simply the right thing to do when people are hurting. Job was identified as a righteous man by his acts of compassion. “Whoever heard me spoke well of me, and those who saw me commended me, because I rescued the poor who cried for help, and the fatherless who had none to assist him. The man who was dying blessed me; I made the widow’s heart sing. I put on righteousness as my clothing; justice was my robe and turban. I was eyes to the blind and feet to the lame, I was a father to the needy; I took up the case of the stranger.” (Job 29:11-16)
- Share the Gospel and plant churches. We must be cautious not to manipulate or be overly aggressive in the midst of pain and loss. Most people will appreciate genuine help, prayer, and caring concern. Compassionate ministry creates receptiveness to our message of hope and salvation, and opens the way for new churches to be planted.
- Enable the local church. The storms of life break down walls of resistance and create opportunities for the local church to offer help, healing, and hope to their neighbors. Disasters produce occasions for the church to be the hands and feet of Jesus in practical ministry.
In the dark hours of disaster, people desperately search for the light of dawn. God has called us, as the people of God, to be light in the darkness.
“And if you offer yourself to the hungry and satisfy the afflicted one, then your light will shine in the darkness, and your night will be like noonday.” (Isaiah 58:10)