A Privilege to Bring Relief

Tragedy struck the South last week in what could possibly be the worst tornado in American history once the missing are all accounted for.  Currently, this disaster sits at number two on the most destructive tornado list with over three hundred dead and over four hundred people still unaccounted for.  Beside the immeasurable cost to life, the tornadoes have also destroyed towns and cities.  Despite the size of the disaster and its recent occurrence, it is already old news.  When I write this early Monday morning, the story is already off the headlines and off of the main internet news sites. 

The apostle John and his letter to the churches always challenges me in times of disaster like this.   “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth” [1 John 3:16-18 (ESV)].

The media has shrunk the world.  In a way, this is a good thing.  We can see the needs of people on the other side of the world.  But in another way, this can be a bad thing.  We can grow immune to the suffering and plight of others because it is always in front of us.  Let us heed the teaching of John.  If we say we love God, then we need to love our brothers and sisters in need.  Now is one of those times that we have that opportunity.

Sometimes I encounter the idea that we do not need to help others because we should use all of our resources to help our own.  The thought goes, “We have enough needs here in Antwerp and Paulding County.  Why should we send money to help others?”  Scripture teaches that God blesses in order for those whom he blesses to be a blessing (Genesis 12:1-3).  In God’s logic, he blesses those who have shown that they are willing to use what he blesses them with to bless others (Matthew 25:14-30).  We must be careful not to view it selfishly like an exchange in the marketplace.  “We bless others, God blesses us.”  It doesn’t work that simply.  God cannot be tricked by ur actions.  He can see our hearts and know whether our loving actions spring out of love or selfishness.  May we strive to learn how to genuinely love others and use our blessings to be a blessing.

The world does not have a problem with lacking supplies, food, and resources; its problem is in distribution.  Those in need could have all their needs met if those with plenty would choose to sacrifice and meet them.  There is enough to go around.  In God’s economy, we can always sacrifice to be a blessing.  That is the example that we should learn from Jesus on the cross.  Through his suffering, he showed us what humility really looks like (Philippians 2). 

So if you are looking to help during this time, there are many ways.  If you are in a denominational church, you can always contact your church’s relief wing and see what opportunities they have available.  There is always the American Red Cross.  My favorite disaster charity is International Disaster Emergency Service.  Ides ranks higher than the American Red Cross at Charity Navigator with their charity rating.   

If you are interested in doing more than just sending money, Riverside Christian Church is planning a relief trip down there next week to deliver some needed supplies and help out wherever help is needed.  The details are not finalized yet, but get in touch if you are interested in joining in our relief efforts.