You may have been watching with concern these past few days as Hurricane Harvey and its after effects ravage the countless communities and cities in South Texas. News reports continue to indicate that the storm’s heavy rainfall and subsequent flooding are unprecedented and exceeding expectations. According to ABC News, the United States government is responding through the deployment of 3,000 national and state guard service members, as well as 500 vehicles and 14 aircraft.
Although it is reassuring to see the ways government workers and officials are responding to the disaster, many still wonder: is there anything we can do to help? From far away, it is easy to feel powerless. Often, our immediate reaction is to try and find the nearest plane, train, or automobile, hitch a ride, and hope that our presence at the scene of the crisis will ultimately help serve those in need. Or, it is the exact opposite—we wring our hands and do nothing. But before you or anyone you know tries to go and single-handedly rescue victims of Hurricane Harvey, or just sits anxiously watching the television, here are some practical ways you can help right now.
First, pray. As Christ followers, our first inclination in times of struggle and strife should be to fix our eyes not on the disaster itself, but on the God who promises His steady presence throughout it. When we find ourselves slipping into dangerous patterns of worry on behalf of those in need, prayer is our best and surest remedy.
We can get together with fellow believers and pray for the safety of victims and their families. We can ask God to stop the storm and cause the floodwaters to recede. We can allow the Lord to reorient our hearts and fill our minds with the truth of His promises. He is, after all, the One who can calm every storm whether off the coast of Texas or in our very hearts.
Second, look for ways that you and your church can be prepared when a disaster might happen near you. According to Janay Stargell, GEMA’s faith-based and non-governmental organization coordinator, communities often look for “churches to help respond” during times of recovery from a disaster. As Christ’s Church, this gives us an incredible opportunity to be His hands and feet when disaster strikes, both at home in our own communities and beyond. But it takes preparing before the moment of crisis. You may not be ready to help on the ground today, but you could be ready for the next time of desperate need.
Third, be well informed. Even for those prayerfully engaging from a distance, it can be surprising how valuable knowledge of the situation and the victims’ specific needs can be. Sending socks, winter parkas, and snow boots is a nice gesture for victims of a snowstorm, but it would do nothing to assist victims of a drought or earthquake. Know how to effectively help.
Last, consider donating. All of your donations to the SDB United Relief Fund are used to help provide relief to victims of a disaster. You can donate online here or you can mail your check to the SDB Center. Please make a note on your check that it is for the SDB United Relief Fund (SDBURF).
The One We Look To
Matthew 8 is a powerful example of what we are called to do when disasters are imminent and we feel out of control. We look to Jesus, the One who, by speaking a word, can calm all storms. We focus on Him, knowing that He is in control. And we do that by praying.
And then we follow Him into the disaster as He guides—whether through getting prepared for the next disaster or finding creative ways to help in the current crisis. Whatever He calls us to do, we can be sure of one thing: He isn’t calling us to do nothing. What we see on television impacts us whether we live in Texas or not. When one suffers, all suffer, and this can be the time when the Church shines the brightest. Please help today.