We have all seen the devastation of disasters across the country recently. We know Christ is with us in these times, and He also asks His people to help when these situations occur. Although this is not an area close to us, this is some helpful information to hold on to...just in case it is ever needed.
How do we help in the midst of the messiness of a disaster?
Here is what does not work when ministering in a disaster:
- Assuming that all the needs are being met by others or by agencies.
- Forgetting about the victims. This happens quickly.
- Thinking the victims do not need/want to be bothered. Help is needed and wanted!
- Saying, “Call me if you need anything.”
- Thinking that insurance covers all the related expenses.
Here is what does work when ministering in a disaster:
- Prayer! Pray for and with the victims!
- Cards and notes. Encouragement keeps everyone going.
- Do something. Jump in and help by doing something!
- Gift cards! Disasters are expensive. Insurance does not cover all the expenses. Restaurant gift cards give flexibility and offer needed meals. Building supply stories, big box stores, or home décor stores are great for buying those things the insurance will not cover.
- A home-cooked meal. Nothing says love like food, especially when life is busy dealing with the disaster.
- Asking for an update. Disasters last a long time after the news trucks have packed up and left town. Victims need to know they are not alone during the long haul of the disaster.
- Helping with practical needs. Practical everyday things become major obstacles in a flood:
- Washing clothes. In a flood, all the clothes in the house and all the linens have to be washed.
- School supplies, toys, and baby gear (diapers, wipes—all those things needed for babies!)
- Paper products
- Help finding and moving to a temporary home
- Childcare to allow the parents time to deal with the disaster
- Assistance in finding resources and help
- Listening and understanding.
- To the frustration
- To the anger
- To the loneliness
- Referrals to professional counselling
Disasters are messy and they stay messy for months, sometimes years. Victims of disaster will go through the stages of grief, they will struggle, and they will face challenges. With the compassionate love of Christ as our motivation, we can make a difference in this messy time in their lives.