The pictures come on the evening news of the homes flattened by a tornado, people crying for loved ones crushed under an earthquake-toppled building, or livelihoods and memories washed away by a flood. Perhaps the event generates coverage on evening talk shows. Then, we change the channel and tomorrow's news makes today's crisis a fleeting memory, soon forgotten.
Except by the victims of crises.
A crisis doesn't go away once attention turns elsewhere. In fact, for many, the struggle to recover from a disaster can take months or years. Some individuals, families and communities hit hard by a disaster may need more time and specialized assistance to recover and deal with complex restoration or rebuilding challenges. In the context of crisis, and the ensuing disruption of the normalcy of life, people seek answers. Victims want to know why. Why did this happen? Why now? Why me? What next? How do I cope?
The mission that follows
In this context, this season of disruption, people are naturally open to relationships that express God's love and communicate God's Word. Developing relationships that allow the Body of Christ to express the Great Commandment and the Great Commission is a primary value for ReachGlobal, whatever the context, whatever the crisis. When ReachGlobal responds to crises, we seek ministry opportunities which allow our local partners and us, if needed, to engage relationally with victims for the long term.
We do provide relief, but we have found that by focusing on long-term recovery ministries, especially when many others have chosen to move on to the 'next' crisis, we are able to enter deeper, more impactful relational ministry.
For example, more than 10 years after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, ReachGlobal is working with many families who are still trying to recover. We chose to engage in rebuilding homes as a long-term recovery ministry, because it gives us relational access for long periods of time with the family and with the neighborhood in which their home is located.
As fruit from that long-term ministry, we have helped restore a number of existing churches and helped in the launching of several new church plants.
Long-term recovery ministry can look very different, depending on the context, type of crisis, available resources, partners, etc. In a closed-access country following an earthquake, we worked with ReachGlobal missionaries and local partners to establish "libraries," which served as ministry centers in the midst of displaced peoples camps. These libraries were stocked with Christian materials and staffed by Christian workers, who developed community programs allowing them significant relationships with the victims. In each of these cases, the ministry lasted for years, met a real need in the community, and most importantly, expressed God's love in both deed and word. In each case, the ministry continued long after the event faded from the rest of the world's memory.
Long-term strategies create a need for a wide spectrum of involvement and support. You or your church can engage in the following:
- Send a short-term team
- Apply to join the ReachGlobal crisis response team
- Join the Crisis Response network of churches, poised to respond when crisis hits
- Start a crisis response seed fund in your church