Sunday morning at church, we had the opportunity to show love to some evacuees from Hurricane Irma. As hundreds of thousands of people fled Florida and traveled through Georgia, churches across the South have stepped up to serve.
With the double threats of Harvey and Irma the last two weeks, we’ve seen the church shine when it comes to hurricane relief. From providing shelter to donating new and used items, Christians are showing tremendous love to those in need.
Churches and other Christian organizations have led the way in item donations after Hurricane Harvey devastated Texas. For many of these congregations and non-profits helping others is simply a way of life. As USA Today puts it:
In a disaster, churches don’t just hold bake sales to raise money or collect clothes to send to victims; faith-based organizations are integral partners in state and federal disaster relief efforts. They have specific roles and a sophisticated communication and coordination network to make sure their efforts don’t overlap or get in each others’ way.
In fact, Christian organizations are doing more than the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in response to Harvey and Irma. Faith-based organizations mobilize quickly, and Christians tend to act generously in times of need. The advantage to receiving aid from churches and other faith-based charities is that the states and localities do not have to repay Christian non-profits the way they must pay back FEMA dollars.
Many of the organizations that FEMA directs donors to are faith-based. USA Today reports:
Over and over again in public comments as Hurricane Harvey was soaking Texas and Louisiana, FEMA administrator Brock Long asked concerned citizens to go to NVOAD.org to make donations – that is National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, the alliance of volunteer organizations that are helping FEMA channel disaster assistance into the affected areas. About 75% of the organizations that are part of the alliance are faith-based.
Denominational organizations work hard to put together aid for those in need. The Seventh Day Adventists and the United Methodist Committee on Relief have been in the public eye assisting victims of Harvey and Irma, and the relief arms of other denominations have taken in donations and put boots on the ground all over the South as well.
Individual churches have pitched in — just look at any local church’s website or Facebook page, and you’ll see ways that congregation is helping out. Other non-denominational faith-based groups – some with immediately recognizable names — are doing their part as well. Convoy of Hope has provided meals for those who needed food the most in the aftermath of both storms.
The Salvation Army has mobilized in Texas and Florida. International leader Andre’ Cox wrote:
As you would expect The Salvation Army was quickly deployed, as we are always ready to respond to human need without discrimination. The Salvation Army in the USA is well resourced, trained and networked to be able to respond instantly and work in partnership with other agencies. As with other disasters around the world, The Salvation Army is not just there for the immediate crisis. We are there for the duration – to see people through the immediate disaster and to help them rebuild lives, homes, businesses and communities.
Cox called on the faithful to donate, pray and pitch in wherever they can.
Samaritan’s Purse, the organization founded by Billy Graham’s son Franklin — and probably best known for Operation Christmas Child — already had relief on the ground in Texas, but they were able to rely on their teams in Canada to help after Irma.
Luther Harrison, vice president of North American Ministries for Samaritan’s Purse, told USA Today:
For Hurricane Irma, the majority of our equipment has already been dispatched to Texas … so our office in Canada is bringing their equipment across the border and FEMA was instrumental in helping us clear that with customs and getting all the paperwork done.
Jesus called His followers to serve others as a way to show His love to the world. It’s incredibly encouraging to see believers step up to the plate and follow God’s commands to give, love, and serve.