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How the church should respond to disaster

In the days following Hurricane Katrina, the worst natural disaster in U.S. history, we had the chance to respond as Jesus would have. 70 AIM interns, some staff and I drove to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, a city transformed from 300,000 people to 800,000 people, a city transformed into…
By Seth Barnes

In the days following Hurricane Katrina, the worst natural disaster in U.S. history, we had the chance to respond as Jesus would have. 

70 AIM interns, some staff and I drove to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, a city transformed from 300,000 people to 800,000 people, a city transformed into a shelter for those euphemistically called “evacuees.”

We were overwhelmed by the thousands of cots, lined up side by side, covering every available floor surface. Huddled under blankets, too tired to wander around and look for hope, lay people who have been through the unimaginable. Everything they owned was there beside them, usually in plastic bags.

This was a big-scale disaster. But small-scale disasters happen all the time. Think about the people you know wrestling with cancer or some other personal trial this Christmas season. 

An elderly lady was sitting in a chair by her cot. She was leaning forward with her hands covering her face as if she couldn’t bear to look at the new world around her, as if she was completely lost.

We talked to a man who had been wearing the same clothes for ten days. He begged me for a shirt and some pants, saying, “I’ll wear anything! I’ll wear anything, just please get me a shirt.”

Here are the first seven who come to my mind: Robert, Kevin, Mark, Cesar, Dick, Elizabeth’s Dad and Cricket‘s Dad. And then there are those who just lost a loved one like Kathryn’s Mom. What does disaster feel like to these people as they contemplate life’s brutal side?

We need to be asking this question: How do we as Jesus-followers respond to disaster wherever we find it?

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