A devastating tornado hit our town the month before I moved here in 2008. That’s when I first met Brian Mavis. Brian Mavis is on staff at LifeBridge Christian Church in Longmont, Colorado. He mobilized Christians all around the country, and in this area, to serve the people of Windsor, Colorado. He understands how best we can help when tragedy strikes.
Here are his thoughts on how we can best help the people of Moore, Oklahoma (This post was originally written after the tornado in Joplin, MO. but was changed by Brian to address the tragedy in Moore, OK. Here’s the original post: 3 Do’s & Don’ts):
The US is the most over-clothed country in the world. Soon, there will be trucks sent to Moore by well-meaning churches, filled with clothes, toys, and furniture. There is no place to put the furniture now, and Moore will get way too many clothes and toys.2. Don’t Send a Team of Volunteers without a Local Organization Giving You Guidance
Don’t go to Moore uninvited. FEMA representatives always fear that if a town doesn’t get a handle on all the uninvited volunteers, they will end up with a bigger crisis than the one caused by the tornado. Coordinate with a local Moore organization before sending a team of volunteers and make sure your being there is of more benefit to them than work.
Now let’s look at three things you and your church can do to help Moore.
1. Pray for the Affected and those Ministering to Them
During the next few weeks, many who lost homes and loved ones will see their grief turn to frustration and anger—at their circumstances, at the government, at the insurance companies, and at God. Pray for them now and then. Also, don’t forget to pray for those who are ministering to them. They are caring a heavy load, and they will need spiritual, emotional, and physical strength to endure it.
2. Forge Contacts with Reputable Organizations
Disasters like these bring out the sheep and the wolves in sheep’s clothing. Work with people and groups you can trust. You can send money to the Red Cross, but you may prefer to work directly with a church in the Moore area that you know and can rely on. Start with the relationships you already have.
3. Make a Long-Term Commitment with Your Short-Term Trips
After a disaster like this, the devastated area goes through three stages:
Ironically the need for volunteers is inverse to what the area experiences. Normally a lot of people want to volunteer at first, but that is when the professionals (police, fire, EMT’s, gas and electric workers, etc.) are needed and not volunteers. Then when many volunteers are needed for things like hanging siding, installing lawns, planting trees, painting, and so on, the interest in helping subsides. Begin planning how you can help Moore this fall, at Christmas and next summer.