The world watched as Fort McMurray, when a wild fire started to consume the city. It is hard to imagine 80,000 people being up rooted from their homes and forced to flee a wall of flames. Yet this is the reality that our northern neighbours experienced. Following the fires came a flash flood. It is hard to imagine that a community should have to face so much calamity but it has happened. As with many emergency events, people ask if the Church is ready to respond. So how can we respond to an event like this?
I have a little experience in serving a community in a State of Emergency as both a minister and a member of the Emergency Response Team and I would like to lay out a few suggestions of how Christians can engage in events like this.
- Pray! Prayer is not sitting still, it is action! As Believers in Jesus Christ, we have the right to boldly approach God on behalf of someone else. We need to pray for rain to fall, drying winds to come and change the environment. We need to pray for the safety of the front line Emergency Services workers. We need to pray from wisdom of the local leadership. We need to pray for the people that have been evacuated and lost so much. We need to pray for them as they start to rebuild. We also need to pray for Christians in Fort McMurray, as they are there for such a time as this, to minister to their community in the hour of need. May the Body of Christ have the anointing to stand up boldly in the hour of need!
- Wait! This is the hardest word to write to a people of action, but it is also one of the most pharmacy important things to do. As the wild fire burns, or the floods rise, the complete picture of what is needed is not fully known. It is important to give local leaders time to assess what they need and then respond to their request. Many times, well intentioned donations are sent into emergency situations but the local leadership has no capacity to use or handle what is sent, then they are left with another problem to solve. So waiting to hear what the needs are from local leaders is crucial to being truly helpful.
- Prepare! Waiting gives us time to prepare our hearts, our resources and our time to respond to what we maybe asked for. The Book of Acts tells us that the Early Church gave as the Holy Spirit led them and as the need arose. We need to ask the Holy Spirit to guide our generosity. Will we gather funds to rebuild homes and churches? Will we collect clothes to send to families that have lost everything? Will we take time to go and be part of the clean up and rebuilding? Will it be a combination of these things? Asking the Lord to guide our generosity will help us give to the full potential of blessing that God wants us to be in the midst of crisis.
- Act! When we have sought the Lord, waited for the need to be expressed by local leaders, and prepared what we can give, then we need to move to action. Working with local leaders and agencies that are given the responsibility to help is crucial. This helps local leaders meet the needs that they have identified and to provide accountability to the people that need help and to those that have donated.
So let’s prepare to be a blessing and seek the Lord’s face in the midst of disaster, that we would serve in such a time as this!