Responding to the Unexpected: How the Church Cares for Others When Emergencies Happen
The Syrian Refugee Crisis. Famine in East Africa. Major floods in Peru. These are just three of the events we’ve highlighted over the past two weeks. When crises like the refugee crisis, the current famine in East Africa, the floods and mudslides in Peru happen, the needs can feel daunting. When we’re watching the news through our phones while taking care of our own obligations and overwhelming schedules, it’s easy to feel paralyzed.
The good news is that God does not ask us to address all of the problems in our world alone. We are part of a global church—the Body of Christ—that is at work.
In John 1:5 we read that “light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
In the midst of overwhelming crises, the church is still shining its light into the darkest situations.
When violence in Syria began six years ago, most of the world didn’t know how to respond or where to begin. Millions of people fled from their homes, leaving everything they knew behind in hopes of finding safety.
Throughout this time, the church has been responding.
Nazarene Compassionate Ministries works as an aid to local churches already in action around the world. Nazarene Compassionate Ministries exists to mobilize local churches to serve and compassionately meet the needs in our world.
Nazarenes in Jordan, Lebanon, and Europe have been caring for refugees who fled into their cities, schools, and churches. Welcoming new people into their congregations, assisting them with resettlement into new communities, helping children and adults move forward with their lives, and reminding them of God’s love for them.
Besides the immediate needs that come to mind for one to thrive such as food, safe water, and shelter, children living as refugees also need the opportunity to get an education. Millions of children have been displaced for years, missing some of the most critical time in school to learn and grow. That’s why the work of the church is so imperative in the lives of refugees, especially children.
In Peru, and now parts of Ecuador and Colombia, devastating floods and mudslides have displaced more than 700,000 people from their homes in the past two months. Many Nazarenes are directly affected. And even though many are impacted themselves, it is local churches who are assessing the needs and bringing food, water filters, mosquito nets, and other resources to their neighbors right now.
In East Africa, millions of children and families are experiencing extreme hunger and famine. Nazarenes have been directly affected by the hunger crisis, too. Without food, many will die. In response, churches are doing all they can to get food to those in need.
In each of these crisis situations, Nazarenes have responded to the needs in local communities, just as they have done for many years.
When the church has an overwhelming need to respond to disasters and crises that require international support, Nazarene Compassionate Ministries helps bridge that gap. As a part of the church, NCM exists to directly support the work and needs of local church ministries when emergency relief is needed.
So what can we do?
Emergency events can leave us in dismay. We don’t know what to do, or say, or pray, but there is power in prayer. Scripture tells us that the Holy Spirit intercedes when we are dealing with pain too deep for words, (Romans 8:26) and that there is power in the prayers of a righteous person (James 5:16).
As we seek to respond to the issues happening around the world, may we always be quick to turn to God in prayer.
It’s easy to look away when images and videos of pain and suffering make us uncomfortable. But one way we can stay involved and compassionate is to turn our eyes toward the suffering. Listen to the stories and look for God’s image in individuals, and perhaps we may start to soften to the people Jesus longs for us to care for.
After you take in the news and stories, consider the ways this challenges you and share it with others.
Even though we cannot predict when emergencies and natural disasters will occur, we can give in preparation for the unexpected. Ultimately, when we give, it is always with the hope that lives can be touched, stories can be changed, and Jesus can be seen in the most devastating circumstances.
By providing resources and tools for the global church to serve as a compassionate body in times of emergency, it is always for others’ good, our joy, and God’s glory.
That is why we can say with confidence,
Together we are the church. Together, we can make a difference.
To learn more about the church’s emergency relief efforts, visit ncm.org/relief.
To learn more about the church’s response to the refugee crisis, visit ncm.org/refugees.