This is brief. I’m leaving for Haiti tomorrow and will be there for 9 days, but I want to make a few comments about helping in Joplin, MO.
The natural instinct is to want to help. Now. Since December 2004 I’ve been in a few disaster zones and we have tried to have a direct impact on the relief efforts in those places (Louisiana, Iowa, Jamaica, Haiti, and more). One thing is certain: the news cameras will leave the zones long before the relief efforts are completed. The large NGOs (i.e the Red Cross) benefit from name recognition and the human impulse to do something NOW and money flows into their coffers. Most of them do good work, certainly, but most of them do not spend all the money that comes their way. The latest report that I heard from Haiti is that 17% of the relief funds that have been raised have been spent so far. We’re two years in.
This is one reason why experts in NGO and disaster relief encouraged people not to give right away when the tsunami hit Japan. They strongly encouraged everyone to pause, take a breath, and wait for the right time to do something.
My point is for fellow Christians who want to make an impact. As stewards of God’s money, make it do something. We Christians don’t mind going to give relief to a disaster zone when it’s no longer sexy. We don’t mind going to places the cameras have long abandoned. We don’t mind remembering what everyone else has forgotten. The disaster in Joplin has just begun.
When Katrina his the Gulf Coast, I jumped in a van with a dear friend and we rushed down to the scene. We were literally in the heart of things in some places before FEMA and the Red Cross. Both FEMA and the Red Cross treated us with respect because they were just as confused as everyone else. In a matter of five years our world has become much more adept at responding to crises. It is a telling piece of evidence that there are, in fact, more natural disasters occurring than there were only five years ago. At least the tempo has picked up.
Now the first responders are very efficient, the big NGOs are loaded with cash and equipment, and government is much more involved and controlling. Most of this is good news. But human nature is what it is and people move on and forget, yet every place that has had a newsworthy disaster is to this day still trying to recover. That’s why I’m returning to Haiti for the 4th time since the earthquake in 2010 that killed almost a quarter of a million people. It’s because thousands are still in tent cities.
Smaller ministries like ours cannot possibly respond to every crisis. We go with our gut (or is it the Spirit of God?), but we choose when we can respond and then we throw ourselves into it. We have embraced the reality that we don’t need to be heroic and get in on all the clutter of immediate damage (although, providentially, I was with a team of surgeons that were doing battlefield surgery to save lives when I first went to Haiti). We now understand that relief can be brought later, only a few weeks later sometimes. It’s not as flashy, not as emotionally compelling, perhaps. But it is very meaningful. It has all the unattractive appeal of a cup of water. But a cup of water given to one of Jesus’ disciples is remembered by Him (Mat. 10:42).
So, blog readers, join us in bringing relief to Joplin. Several weeks from now. It will be very meaningful. I know because I’ve seen a lot of disasters zones a long time after the big story. I’ll see one again tomorrow.
I’d be grateful if you supported our efforts or joined one of our teams. We will be giving more information in about 2 weeks. If you want to financially support relief in Joplin and you trust us to make it count, send your donations to
Global Grace Ministries
Morning Star Church
3426 Colony Bay Drive
Rockford, IL 61109