disaster relief help the victims

We are the Boats

1:27 PMHeather

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Matthew 22:36 - 40 

800 year flood. As in, once in every 800 years, destruction of this magnitude comes along. Glued to coverage of Hurricane Harvey, I see that the news anchors are out of adjectives. The National Weather Service had to create a new color category for this much rain fall.
Unprecedented. 
It's the word often repeated over the last few days.
While I sit idly by, in my safe and dry home in north Texas, I feel helpless. I feel a sense of guilt, climbing into my bed at night, with no need to listen for rainfall, watch out my window, or jump at yet another tornado warning. I pray. On loop. Falling on the verses in Romans 8 that tell me that the Holy Spirit intercedes for us with groaning too deep for words.

And it hits me. 

Unprecedented times call for unprecedented acts of service, unprecedented love, unprecedented giving, and an unprecedented prayers.
I watch the coverage, and I am moved to tears watching the Cajun Navy or teenagers with a boat loving their neighbors. I'm moved by the spirit of humanity that I'm seeing. The images that say, yes, though institutional racism is alive and well and white privilege is a real thing -- in times of crisis, man sees a need and moves to meet it. When the flood waters rise, color and creed are put aside.
I see the hand of God in story after story of rescue and selflessness. What can I do -- hundreds of miles away?

As the rain stops in Houston and pounds on another section of the south, here is the rally cry that I want to raise for everyone out there -- for every Texan, for every Texas community, and for everyone reading.

We are the boats. 

Every one of us is the boat. No matter where you are or what your resources. You can dare to launch yourself into the midst of the massive need and do your part toward the rescue and recovery.
The reality is that we have not even begun to see the widespread destruction that will require assistance on a scale that Texas has never seen. 
When the waters recede, the damage will become clearer. We will realize the extent of people and families displaced, places of employment destroyed, vehicles gone, and community resources such as hospitals, doctor's offices, churches, stores, and restaurants essentially gone. 

But just as Houstonians and people from all over the country went to rescue in high waters, we are EACH the boat to rescue in the wake of the flood. 

While the number is still unclear and Harvey continues to unleash on parts of Texas and Louisiana, the San Diego Union Tribune estimates that as many as 13 million from Texas and Louisiana have been affected by the storm. FEMA estimates that as many as 450,000 people have been displaced.

These are staggering numbers which don't begin to tell the story of each person that won't be able to live and work in their home and community. 
BUT, what if we each did our part and acted out our role as the boat?

1. GIVE, but not your junk.  From working in Katrina relief efforts, we learned first hand that people who have lost everything do not need your junk. 
The call for donations is NOT the call to purge what you no longer want and thrust it toward the need. 
Instead, take your junk and throw a garage sale and send the MONEY to the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. MONEY is the most helpful. 
P.S. It is tempting to buy a cute t-shirt that will send its proceeds to the cause. Skip the t-shirt and just send the money. (Because someday you'll probably just sell the t-shirt in a garage sale anyway).

2. Give like you've never given before. Have a family meeting and decide one thing you will go without for a month. Send your latte money or movie money or new clothes money to the effort. If it was your family who lost it all, what would you do without to help toward recovery?

3. Give of your time. Take your vacation time or a day off and volunteer at a local shelter or plan a trip to Houston. 
As the water is receding, efforts are already beginning to rip out carpets, clean out houses, and deal with the aftermath. 
Think about this. Mobile feeding units are already staged and ready, but need manpower! You don't have to look far to find ways to volunteer. 

Texas has a state population of nearly 28 million. If nearly 13 million were impacted, that leaves plenty of the rest of us in a position to do SOMETHING.

4. Rise up, Church, and be ready for long haul! There are about to be hundreds of thousands, conservatively, who have no where to live. And it will take a long time to rebuild. NOW is the time to collectively begin to brainstorm the long term approach to absorbing the population displaced until they can return to their homes.  
This feels daunting, I know. In 2005, our church responded to Katrina by joining up with other local churches and devising a long term strategy. We were walking through the dark, but eager and ready and prayerful. Here is the beautiful approach that seemed to work.
         * Join forces with other local resources and divide up the
            needs and approaches so you are working collectively and   
            and NOT duplicating services. Communicate with local
            non-profits and other resources so you are all working
            together.  Join your boats together to "make the human
            chain" so each is fulfilling a role.

        * Consider a sponsor-family approach to helping the families
           displaced. Volunteer families in your church and community
           are partnered with one family in need. The volunteer 
           families are thus the touch point, communicating needs and
           problems back to a coordinator to connect the families in 
           need with local resources. 

5. PRAY-- Set the alarm on your phone to go off at the hour. Each hour, take time to pray. Can you imagine the collective power of us approaching the throne of mercy with our prayers, interceding for the victims of Hurricane Harvey?

Now is the time, people. 
We are the boats. 
For such a time as this, we were made to use all our time, talents, and abilities to rescue our neighbors.

Unprecedented times call for unprecedented acts of service, unprecedented love, unprecedented giving, and unprecedented prayers.

I believe the results will be unprecedented, as well.

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