We often get questions about why we are needed in these crisis locations, what we will be doing and how we will do it. Those are all great questions! So we thought we’d try to answer some of them.
First of all we are needed on site at the crisis/disaster locations to help the local church respond to the great needs of their community following a major storm, hurricane or other crisis. In many cases the local church has sustained damage to it’s own building, the pastor(s), elders and congregation may have sustained damage to their homes, many people may be without work because businesses and industry may have been damaged or destroyed and there is no place for some of these people to go to “get out of the disaster”. People come to the church for help and we are there to come alongside of that church to provide some of that help through prayer, a hot meal, a shoulder to cry on and help in restoring their home. This gives the body of the partner church another resource when their own resources are at their limit.
Another major part of our role in Crisis Response will be to facilitate Short Term Mission teams from churches around the country/world that want to help out in response to these crises. Our ministry gets tons of calls from churches of every denomination from places as far away as the Czech Republic whenever a disaster hits. People want to help! And people need help. We are the conduit to bring the help people want to give to those that need it.
Rob will be working with homeowners and government and non-government organizations to find resources for the homeowners to restore or rebuild their homes. He will meet with the homeowners to see what needs to be done, coordinate materials, building permits, and the financial resources the homeowner has available to them so that when volunteer teams come they have work to do. I will work with him to let him know who is coming and when and what kinds of skills the team(s) coming in any given week have. That way he knows who he has coming and can line up work accordingly. He will then work with the volunteers during the week they are there. He will remind the workers that it’s not all about the task at hand but about the relationship with the homeowner, neighbor or local people that they are working with. A common question from Rob may be “have you put down your hammer today to talk to the homeowner?” American’s are very task oriented so we have to be reminded that the relationship is the most important part of the work they will be doing that week.
Someone also needs to host the teams in the ministry center of that crisis location. That will be part of my job. Many times the local partner church will have provided help for cooking, cleaning and other household chores but sometimes as in Haiti, we hire locals for this work. I will be helping to facilitate the household staff/volunteers, making sure everyone has a spot to sleep, food in their bellies and helping with orientation and team debrief upon team arrival and departure. I am also hoping to encourage the women of the local partner church through bible studies and maybe a hobby based ministry to bring women together in fellowship.
On Staten Island, NY we have a staff of 3-4 for the summer that are running a site that can house 70-80 volunteers at a time. In August, 2 of these people will complete their time with ReachGlobal Crisis Response. This site is actually set up for 5-7 staff people. It takes a team this large to be able to make sure that 70-80 volunteers have work to do with materials and tools available to them. For building permits to be obtained, homeowners to be consulted and meals to be prepared. This is where we will be going upon reaching our support goal. We are so excited to be able to go help those that need help and witness to the mission field that was created in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.