Now let's put a human face on this story. My niece and her husband were Galveston residents. He is a medical student and she is a neonatal nurse. They don't have money or resources to negotiate a thing like this on their own. They can't get back to check on their apartment, he can't go back to med school, and she can't get back to work caring for babies. They are living with her folks in the Houston area until the worst of the debris is gone and basic services (water, sewer, and electricity) are restored. Thankfully they are safe, but they are also real folks whose lives, cash flow, living arrangements, and worldly goods are completely up in the air right now. Their churches, grocery stores, gas stations are closed. Their streets and basic services are damaged or destroyed. And, there are over a million people from Baton Rouge, Louisiana around to southwest of Houston, Texas, who are in similar situations.
So what can we do?
Here are two simple, yet powerful, things we can do to help — not just for these disasters, but also for future ones.
PrayPray for these people, pray for God's people that are trying to serve and bless, pray for the clean up efforts, pray for their courage, pray for no disease outbreaks, pray for good weather, ... please pray for them daily. Here's a note from one of our readers that begs for our prayers:
I would really appreciate prayers for all of the people in these areas of Texas, Houston/Galveston and bay areas that are being affected by this monstrous hurricane. My home is outside of Houston and only 50 miles from Galveston. There is so much need but prayers from others would really be comforting. It is going to take a very long time and a lot of patience for these areas of Texas to recover. Thank you and God bless. Marianne
We can all pray.
HelpWe don't want to be guilty of the well-intentioned commitment to pray and yet leave our needy friends to fend for themselves. James reminds us that nice sounding prayer-wishes without action show our faith is not really alive (James 2:14-17). John tells us that we show whether the love of God is real in us by the way we choose to help (or not help) our brothers and sisters in need (1 John 3:16-17). Clearly, some of our Heartlight.org family are in dire financial situations with the economy and house crisis. But, most of us could spare a few dollars to help others in need — we can simply not buy soft drinks and coffee or we could skip a meal or two for a couple of weeks and share what we would have spent on those items.
At Heartlight.org, we have received emails about how people are helping each other in these difficult areas — folks sharing their electric generator power so older folks or home-bound folks can run fans and people sharing food and water and other staples because of shortages. Many churches have been used for shelters and staging areas for help. Really good things are being done by ordinary people to help their neighbors.
My first recommendation is that you go to your church leaders and ask them to receive monies for this relief and then find a sister church in the coastal region that can help. This empowers churches in those areas to directly help those in their church family and their circle of influence. Or find a reputable relief organization and share the funding with them. There will be plenty of opportunities to help if we look a bit.
Finally, many folks know that Heartlight.org is a small non-profit organization with a huge web presence. Many of them think we are crazy for pointing our folks to other places to help with financial needs — after all, we don't have any financial cushion ourselves. But, Heartlight.org has a mission to provide resources to help people live for Jesus in today's world, and we believe that this is one of those ways we live out our mission — to encourage you to live with the character and compassion of Jesus as you seek to share God's grace. We believe both the promise and the call of the apostle Paul:
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers (Ephesians 6:9-10 TNIV).
If you would like to comment on this article, offer input, or give suggestions, feel free to comment on Phil's blog: