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Sep 10
2007
CEN

Offering Hope in Troubled Times

Posted by: CEN

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Nobody in the United States needs to be reminded of the significance of September 11. However, we apparently still need reminded of the importance of being personally ready for natural disasters or terrorist threats, as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has declared September as “National Preparedness Month.”

Nobody in the United States needs to be reminded of the significance of September 11. However, we apparently still need to be reminded of the importance of being personally ready for natural disasters or terrorist threats, as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has declared September as “National Preparedness Month.”

In short, despite the tragedy of six years ago, and despite multiple hurricanes killing thousands and otherwise ruining lives along the Gulf Coast just two years ago, and despite ongoing natural disasters and terrorist threats, many of our citizens simply just refuse to believe that a disaster can happen to them. Or, they’ve adopted a fatalistic view, which is just as frightening.

Failing to prepare is simply irresponsible. From individuals, to communities, to the entire nation, if we fail to prepare, we put an undue burden on those around us when disaster does strike. While we would hope that we wouldn’t find ourselves all alone if faced with an emergency, the reality is that we just might.

That’s the first thing I learned as a Boy Scout. The Scout Motto is, “Be Prepared.” My scout leaders taught me that this was more than a motto however; it is a way of life. They taught me that it meant that I must first be prepared to take care of myself so that I could be prepared to take care of my fellow scouts or citizens if the need arose.

If each of us adopted that attitude, I suspect there would be much less finger-pointing in the aftermath of disasters like the hurricanes that destroyed so many lives in 2005. A view of personal accountability leads to a view of shared responsibility.

That’s a lesson I learned not only in Scouting. It is one found in the Bible. Sadly, though, the Church has remained largely silent on this issue. This is a shame, as the Church is missing an opportunity to offer the most meaningful hope with which one can be provided - the confidence of knowing Jesus. More importantly, it is missing an opportunity to show that faith in Christ leads one to respond in a manner that is totally opposite of our culture’s selfish ways - “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also for the interests of others” (Philippians 2:4).

This admonition sounds very much like the first principle I learned in Scouting.

It has never failed me. But the Church, by failing to challenge its congregations to be prepared, is failing our culture.

There are, of course, exceptions. There are local congregations working with preparedness officials. There are organizations, such as the Salvation Army and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association’s Rapid Response Teams. There is the Christian Emergency Network (CEN), which works to help churches respond in their local communities and beyond when disaster strikes.

But they are the exceptions, not the rule. This attitude is disheartening, as it discounts Scripture. James warned, “Why you do not even know what will happen tomorrow” (James 4:14). And we read elsewhere, “Brace yourself” (Job 38:3).

Following the hurricanes of 2005, CEN encouraged the Church to offer a ministry of prayer, caring, and sharing. The Church should take the opportunity of “National Preparedness Month” to offer that message again.

Just as Nehemiah responded to the need to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, churches must lead in helping their communities rebuild the walls of emergency preparedness and spiritual readiness.

So churches should first challenge individuals and families within the church to get ready. For starters, visit www.ready.gov and find what you need to sustain yourself for 72 hours. Though basic and practical, it is here where we must start. First, to set an example, and second, so that we can, as the Scout Motto says, take care of others because we have first taken care of ourselves.

Then, borrowing from the CEN example, we should be always prayerful, and be prepared to care for those in need and share the love of Christ.

As Oswald Chambers wrote, prayer is the greatest work. In one of his sermons, he said, “Prayer is the working of the miracle of redemption in me which produces the miracle of redemption in others.” We must rely upon the Holy Spirit - through prayer - and rid our churches of vain rituals which prevent the fulfillment of Christ’s claim, “My house shall be called a house of prayer.”

We should pray also for:
• Community cooperation
• Christians willing to demonstrate the truth of the Incarnation - the sacrificial nature of Jesus in and through us
• The safety of our communities and our nation’s safety
• Pastors, law enforcement, first responders, health care workers and others responsible for the safety and security of our communities
• Regardless of what happens, people will be drawn to Christ because of the faith in Christ our lives reveal - through any trial

We can care by:
• Prayerfully considering how we can use our resources, talents and skills to help those in need
• Not waiting for a disaster. Just as emergency preparedness officials plan, prepare and drill for disasters, we too can respond to and drill for scenarios - small and large. We can also get into the habit of responding to huge disasters by meeting smaller emergencies in our communities now

We can share the love of Christ by:
• Sharing our resources
• Sharing our lives
• Sharing our faith

No community’s response, however well prepared it might be, will be complete without a Church response based upon the power of Christ. In order to be sure that we are prepared, we can embrace the four cornerstones of emergency planning - mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery - and apply them to our response as a Church.

Mitigation is simply doing all that is possible to prevent or lesson the impact of a disaster. Mitigation in the church means to preach these principles and teach those with whom we have influence. Preparedness means to pray. Response requires that we step in to assist in every emergency in our communities. In applying these principles, we’ll be caring in a way that is honoring to Christ. Finally, through recovery, we can share the love of Christ.

© Misfit Press, 2007. Michael Barrick is the Owner and Publisher of Misfit Press. To contact him, write mbarrick@charter.net. Misfit Press is based in Granite Falls, N.C. and is committed to “Sharing the Good News from Neighborhoods to Nations.” To learn more, visit www.misfitpress.com.


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