While FEMA certainly provides a lot of aid after disasters such as Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, it is an established yet little known fact that Christian churches and aid agencies provide even more assistance than government entities.
In fact, many government agencies depend on faith-based organizations to help the needy when crises hit. Following is an inspiring look at who is helping and what they are doing to aid the victims of recent natural disasters.
Many Forms of Aid
It is truly inspiring to see Christians of all denominations work together to help those in need.
The Seventh Day Adventists specialize in collecting, organizing and distributing supplies; they are working with government agencies and individual donors to disburse needed items to those who have suffered in the wake of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) has sent crews to remove mud from flooded homes in Houston; it also sends trained volunteers to help families affected by natural disasters learn how to best avail themselves of FEMA assistance, state aid programs and private insurance.
The Convoy of Hope has readied trucks stocked with food and clean water to give out to those affected by Irma while Samaritan’s Purse has debris removal experts on hand and is providing contracting services to help needy individuals rebuild their homes. The organization is providing similar services in the state of Texas, helping residents clean mud from homes, tarping roofs and cutting down trees that could pose a danger to homeowners. It has also sent relief supplies to the Caribbean in the wake of Irma’s deadly onslaught there.
What is more, these Christian organizations provide the spiritual and emotional assistance that government aid organizations don’t offer. Samaritan’s Purse, for instance, provides not only physical aid, but also spiritual aid to help hurting people come to know God’s love. UMCOR home cleanup crews are accompanied by a “designated listener” who is there to provide a listening ear to suffering people.
Just as importantly, individual Christians are using the opportunity to help neighbors by providing a clean, dry place to stay, removing damaged furniture from flooded homes and transporting people to shelters; as they do so, they are able to share the love of Jesus with those around them.
Collaboration with Government Agencies
FEMA policy categorically denies public assistance to buildings that use more than half their space for religious purposes; even so, that has not stopped Christian aid organizations from working with FEMA and other government agencies to provide as much relief as possible.
The disaster relief agency often specifically asks Convoy of Hope to come provide food to those affected by natural disasters. In Houston, for example, Adventist Community Services is working with FEMA to find the best possible facility for distributing aid in the city; this facility will then be managed by Adventist Community Services even though it will belong to the state.
At the same time, FEMA has recognized the invaluable aid provided by Christian organizations, and has offered some helpful assistance to these organizations from time to time. Samaritan Purse North American Ministries Vice President Luther Harrison recently noted that the organization needed to bring in supplies from Canada as all its current equipment was dispatched to Houston. In turn, FEMA helped the aid organization clear this equipment with customs so that it could be available to help victims of Hurricane Irma.
Furthermore, FEMA administrator Brock Long made it a point to specifically ask individuals to make donations to National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, an alliance comprised mainly of faith-based organizations that provide disaster relief around the United States.
As the Director of the DHS Center for Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships recently noted, FEMA would not able to provide aid as effectively as it does without the assistance of churches and faith-based NGOs.
As believers of all ages, denominations and walks of life work together to serve those who have been affected by natural disasters, communities are able to get back on their feet much faster than would have otherwise been possible. Best of all, faith-based organizations are able to not only provide practical assistance and timely relief, but also give suffering natural disaster victims a priceless hope and faith that can withstand anything that life may throw at them now and in the future.
~ 1776 Christian