Death and destruction never take a holiday. Intense persecution in the Middle East. Famine and war. Tsunamis, tornados and hurricanes. And now a disastrous earthquake in Nepal—there are always horrific circumstances that break our hearts and motivate us to help. So we should. God blesses us so that we can bless others.
Within hours of the first news reports out of Kathmandu, my inbox was flooded with pleas for donations. Relief ministries, friends, and friends of friends all told stories of suffering and begged for aid.
As we prayerfully decide how much to send and where to send it, it occurred to me that by the time our money arrives in Nepal, the most immediate needs will already have been dealt with. It takes time to receive a donation, process it, credit it to the proper account, allocate funds, and buy food, water, and shelter. That won’t stop us from giving, but perhaps there’s a better way than reacting to each emergency as it comes.
The best way to give is proactively. When disaster strikes, there are relief organizations already prepared with personnel, emergency supplies, and know-how, ready to act. The requests for funds are most likely so they can replace the supplies already being consumed by the victims. If that is true, then the best way to offer aid in natural and manmade disasters is to give consistently, not all at once.
When Pete and I sat down to make a budget, we allocated a small amount that we can use in this way. By sending it even when things are (relatively) calm and peaceful, we help ensure that these ministries are ready for the next catastrophe.
Giving to a relief organization isn’t quite the same thing as supporting ministries aiding development. Improving the standard of living may forestall some effects of a disaster. Many of the injuries and deaths in Nepal were the result of sub-standard construction—buildings erected in haste with little thought for earthquake safety. But development takes decades. We’ll need relief agencies for a long time yet.
This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t give to a sudden need. I’ve written in the past how our budget also contains a slush fund to be used spontaneously, as God directs. When something like a huge earthquake occurs, we can also allocate that money.
So, please give to help the earthquake victims in Nepal. And please don’t stop once Nepal is no longer in the news. Consider prayerfully which organization you’ll support. Look into their finances to ensure they’re good stewards of the money they receive. (All nonprofits have to make that information public.) Then make them a part of your regular giving. Disasters allow the world to see the church in action. Let’s do our best to bring God the glory that is His due.
Photo: Wikipedia, http://www.amerikaninsesi.com/media/photogallery/2739517.html