Natural disasters can wreak havoc on a community. While churches are not immune from the impact of these events, they play a vital role in ministering to the community before, during and after a calamity.
Here’s a list of several things that your church can do to minister and serve your community in the midst of a natural disaster.
- Prepare to serve your members.
Before a disaster strikes, create a contact list of all your church members. If you already have such a list, make sure it is updated and includes their address, home phone, mobile phone, email address and emergency contact information.
- Know what resources you already have.
Develop a resource list that includes people who would be willing and available to serve after a disaster, as well as equipment and other materials. Find out what resources exist within your local congregation.
- Check on each member.
Following the disaster, contact each member to do a wellness checkup. Respond to any life-threatening issues first, and then try to resolve property issues like cleaning up flooded homes, removing fallen trees, covering displaced roofs, etc.
- Look for other opportunities to serve.
Assisting your church members will probably create opportunities to help their friends and neighbors. This is a great opportunity to be the hands, feet and voice of Jesus during a difficult time.
- Use your facility as a shelter or respite center.
If your church is accessible, free of damage, has power and has the appropriate facilities, consider using your building as a shelter or daytime respite center. Providing a place for people to take a shower, use the restroom, receive a hot meal or take a break is a way to meet many tangible needs immediately following a catastrophic event.
- Offer assistance to local officials.
Contact your local government officials and first responders and offer to help with challenges they may be facing. No job is too small or menial. When they see that you can be trusted, they may turn to you for additional ways to help.
- Provide transportation.
Transportation can be a great challenge following a calamity. If roads are deemed safe and passable, consider how you can help people get to doctor appointments, visit shelters or recovery centers, go to the grocery store and more.
- Point people to other resources for assistance.
You won’t be able to meet every need in your community, so point people to other resources for assistance. Encourage people affected by the disaster to register with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), even if they don’t think they qualify. Registration is the first step to recovery.
Additional information and disaster preparedness resources are available from the Emergency Management Division of the N.C. Department of Public Safety. Additionally, Baptists on Mission, also known as N.C. Baptist Men, post updates to various incidents that the disaster relief ministry is responding to on its website. A training video on conducting clean up, mud outs and tear outs of flooded homes is available here.