Chris Lange, FISM News
Several Christian groups are heeding God’s call to serve as the hands and feet of Christ, offering help and hope to survivors of several recent catastrophic events both in the U.S. and abroad.
From wildfires to hurricanes to floods, tens of thousands of people at home and abroad are reeling from grief and loss as they struggle to pick up the pieces of their lives. Their physical, practical, and emotional needs are great, but they are not alone. Christian organizations and volunteers continue to minister to the suffering with the love of Christ.
At least 8,000 people have died and thousands more are injured or missing in the disasters that struck the North African nations of Morocco and Libya this week.
‘THERE’S NO ONE LEFT ALIVE HERE’
The death toll in Morocco stood at nearly 3,000 at the time of this report following last week’s 6.8 magnitude earthquake. The massive tremor – Morocco’s strongest in more than a century – hit the country’s High Atlas Mountain range near Marrakech.
Faith-based organizations like Send Relief, Convoy of Hope, and Operation Blessing are working around the clock to try to meet the immediate needs of affected communities.
Jason Cox, Send Relief’s vice president of international ministry, witnessed the devastation firsthand as he joined partners in Morocco this week to distribute food and water to survivors, many of whom lost loved ones, homes, and livelihoods in the devastation.
Cox offered a window into the suffering he saw as he described a visit to a village in the Atlas Mountains in a video released by Send Relief.
“At the bottom of the hill, we were told not to come up. There’s no one left alive here,” Cox began. “We came up anyway, and there were some men at the top of the hill who welcomed us and received the relief supplies we were able to give to them.”
Cox expressed gratitude that Send Relief partners were able to respond quickly to the disaster. “There will not be a quick recovery from something like this, though,” he added.
DAMAGED ROADS HINDER ACCESS TO HARDEST-HIT AREAS
Convoy of Hope is also mobilizing to provide essential resources to individuals in communities decimated by the quake. Entire villages were wiped out, leaving survivors, including children, without shelter against the cold mountain air.
“The greatest needs survivors have right now are food, water, hygiene supplies, shelter, blankets, and generators,” the ministry said in a press release. “The hardest-hit areas still haven’t received aid because of how badly roads have been damaged. Sadly, many news agencies are predicting that it will take weeks to access all of the impacted communities and fully assess the level of damage.”
The ministry is also one of the first Christian relief ministries to dispatch volunteers to Libya.
Operation Blessing shared in a recent update that disaster relief volunteers were bringing critical supplies to Amizmiz, another village “decimated” by the quake. Water filtration systems, blankets, milk, and food are among the items being distributed.
‘THIS IS A CHANCE FOR THE CHURCH TO STEP UP AND BE GENEROUS’
In today’s busy news cycle, reports about the devastation left behind in the wake of the August Maui wildfires have slowed to a trickle. But Christian relief workers who rushed in to provide immediate assistance remain there still as they try to help local residents rebuild and recover.
Local Calvary Chapels continue to provide shelter, food, clothing, medical, and pharmaceutical assistance, along with steadfast prayer for those who lost so much.
Rev. Kirk Milhoan, senior pastor of CC South Maui, described the scene when he arrived in Lahaina.
“I’ve been deployed to Iraq twice,” he said. “Lahaina looks like a war zone. It’s a smoldering mess.”
Hannah Housman, wife of Pastor Sean Housman of CC Central Maui described the loss and grieving as “profound.”
“These families have been left with nothing, many have lost loved ones,” she said. “The spiritual and emotional need is great; people are walking around in a daze.”
Milhoan explained to Calvary Baptist Magazine what compels him and his fellow relief volunteers to run toward, rather than away from, tragedies like these.
“This is a chance for the church to step up and be generous,” he said. “Hebrews 13:16 instructs: ‘But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.’ For those of us who were not burned, who still have homes, cars, and income, we can be giving and generous.”
Samaritan’s Purse also continues to assist the people of Maui with the lengthy process of rebuilding. On Aug. 17, Samaritan’s airlifted critical equipment and tools to impacted areas. More recently, teams are sifting through ash and rubble to help families locate belongings, many of which are of great sentimental value, bringing “smiles” in the midst of loss.
“What has happened in Hawaii is nothing short of devastating,” Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan’s Purse, said in a press release. “My heart breaks for those who have lost loved ones and for the families who must now begin the long road to recovery.”
Samaritan’s volunteers are also on the ground helping residents in Washington, which also experienced wildfires last month, as communities in Florida and Georgia are trying to rebuild in aftermath of Hurricane Idalia.
Graham’s father, the late evangelist Rev. Billy Graham, spoke often of God’s call for believers to serve others. “Answers,” a publication of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association based on Graham’s writings, shared his views on the subject in “Does God Want Us to Serve Others Through Humanitarian Work?” The following is an excerpt:
“Reaching out to others with the Gospel shows people their emptiness and bestows on them love. It shows them their bondage and supplies the hammer to knock away their chains. It shows them their nakedness and provides them the garments of purity. It shows them their poverty and pours into their lives the wealth of Heaven. It shows them their sins and points them to the Savior. This is the heart of Christ and the reason why His followers reach out to others. The result is ‘bringing forth fruit’ (Colossians 1:6).”