As the images of Hurricane Harvey flood the news, people of compassion want to help. We see the terrible devastation caused by horrible weather. We read stories about destroyed homes and lives. If you’re like most people, you can’t drive the long trip to Texas to volunteer with relief crews. So what can faithful Christians do to help disaster victims?
The most powerful thing any Christian can do is prayer. James 5:16 says, “The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” James uses the example of Elijah to illustrate how prayer can work. When Israel had abandoned god for Baal, Elijah prophesied that there would be no rain unless he called for it. The rain stopped for three and a half years. God listened to Elijah’s prayer, and he answered it.
When we pray for people, we invoke God’s power to help them. God promises to hear us through his Son, Jesus Christ. Our voices go straight to God’s ears through him. He considers our prayers as a loving father listens to his loving children. The greatest power in all of history, all eternity, promises to hear us.
When We Want To Do More Than Pray
In Acts 20, Paul leaves Ephesus to go to Jerusalem. He has gathered a collection, a relief fund, to bring to Jerusalem as a gift from the gentile believers to their Jewish brothers in the Holy City. The Christian church had sent relief to Jerusalem through disasters and famines. This wasn’t the first of their collections. Paul and others had gathered many before.
We are used to that kind of charity, because most of our charitable organizations fund themselves this way. Rather than rely on individuals giving to individuals, organizations gather money to help people. That was unusual in the ancient world , and Paul’s collection for Jerusalem was an innovation for the gentile world. We continue using his model today.
But there are so many charities asking for money, especially when a disasters strikes. When we want to help, who do we donate to? Christian charities have a double-purpose. They take care of the victims of a disaster by healing the body and serving the spirit, too. Here are some great Christian organizations who help with disaster relief.
- Your Own Denomination’s Relief Fund
Most major denominations have a disaster relief program. The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod has Lutheran Church Charities. The Episcopal church has Episcopal Relief and Development. Most church bodies will have a charitable wing that you can support. The bonus for this is that you support the work of your own church-body.
- World Vision
World Vision is a Christian relief and development organization with global reach. World Vision began with Bob Pierce in 1950, who started simply. He helped a small girl with just $5 he had in his pocket. Since then, they have grown to work in many countries around the world. They are not shy with their Christianity, either. Their faith motivates the organization to serve those in need.
- Samaritan’s Purse
You may have heard about Samaritan’s Purse during the Ebola crisis. One of the Americans who became infected with Ebola, Kent Brantly, was a doctor with Samaritan’s Purse. He was a part of their medical missionary team. Samaritan’s Purse responds to crises around the world, whether natural or medical.
- Operation Blessing International
Operation Blessing International was founded by M. G. Robertson in 1978. Headquartered in the United States, Operation Blessing International works in 39 countries. In addition to disaster relief, they work to help with medical disasters, provide clean water, sponsor food aid, and alleviate poverty.
Each of these charities has long experience with disaster relief, and they are explicitly Christian. If you are looking for great charities to support, you can’t go wrong with these. Not only will they provide the necessary things to survive, they will also carry the love of Jesus Christ with them.