Disaster Relief: The Local Church in Action

DR volunteer looking out at the ocean

Disaster Relief: The Local Church in Action

Disaster Relief: The Local Church in Action

When disasters strike, they bring with them a time of immense distress. People face the loss of security, destruction of property, and even the death of friends and loved ones. In the face of such adversity, feelings of confusion, hurt, and loneliness can be overwhelming. However, during these times, God’s faithfulness and love for his children shine through. He uses these situations to reach out and comfort people, and the ministry of Disaster Relief is one way God provides. 

It’s important to note that the ministry of Disaster Relief doesn’t promise to make everything better than before; often, this is not the case. However, it is in these difficult situations where God’s transformative power is revealed, showing the need for a Savior and instilling a sense of hope in those affected.

Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) is a network of 42 state conventions throughout the United States and Canada, serving to bring help, hope, and healing to those affected by disaster. Operating as an extension of the local church, SBDR strives to connect those impacted by a disaster with local churches in their community. Long after the media has moved on and relief workers have returned home, there will still be physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. This is a ministry opportunity for the local church.

When disasters happen, we have a unique opportunity to be the church to those suffering. If you have ever spoken to an SBDR volunteer about the ministry, they will no doubt share stories of standing with the residents who have lost so much and being able to demonstrate love and compassion to them. This is a tangible example of Matthew 25:40, where Jesus says, whatever you did to one of the least of these, you did to me. Caring for those in need reflects the love of Jesus.

While serving after the Maui Wildfires last fall, we met a man whose home did not burn. He had made some poor decisions in his life and served several stints in prison. Most everything around him had been destroyed, and he didn’t understand why his home had not burned. We spent several days helping him clean his property in preparation for renting to other families displaced by the fires. We loved and cared for him unconditionally, where he was, and without judgment. I wish we could say he decided to follow Christ while we were there, but that was not the case. Many times, we plant the seeds without the joy of the harvest. There were many others we had the opportunity to pray, cry, and celebrate with. God can use tragedy to open doors and hearts typically closed to the gospel.

A part of the ministry you might not have considered is strengthening the local church. We inevitably build relationships when we get out of the pews and serve together. Many in the church don’t see the relevance or feel a connection to the body of believers. People bond over shared experiences and purpose. We gain a broader sense of calling when we see the local church in action.  This connection to the mission strengthens the body and provides a unique avenue for service.

SBDR’s mission is to bring help, hope, and healing to people in crisis. Over its 55-year history, SBDR has provided aid to multitudes of people, built up local churches, and strengthened communities. We are so blessed that God has allowed many to serve and be the hands and feet of Jesus, and we invite you to join us in this mission.

About the Author

John and Gay Williams
Directors, Hawaii Pacific Baptist Convention Disaster Relief Ministries

John and Gay Williams are members of Hawaii Kai Church in Honolulu, HI and serve as the Directors of Disaster Relief Ministries for Hawaii Pacific Baptist Convention.

More About John and Gay Williams
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