Millions of people in east Texas are suffering devastating losses as Hurricane Harvey continues to pour massive amounts of rain into the area. How can you help them?
First and most importantly, pray.
Pray first for their spiritual needs—that Christians won’t doubt God’s goodness in this but will see how He uses afflictions to draw people nearer to Himself (Psalm 119:67). Pray that non-Christians will consider their mortality and their need to be ready to stand before God’s judgment, and so will seek how to be reconciled with Him and find that way in Jesus Christ, the only way to Him (John 14:6). Pray that Christian pastors, elders, and deacons will have the wisdom they need to respond well to the situation. Pray that those who have suffered injury or loss of property will not respond with anger against God’s providence but will search out how He intends to use it for their good (Romans 8:28).
Pray also for their physical needs—that their lives and property will be protected; that the injured will get the medical care they need; that those who have lost property (homes, cars, furniture, precious photos and letters from loved ones, etc.) will be able to replace as much of it as possible; that God will mercifully shorten the time the storm continues to pour rain on the area; that civil authorities will act wisely, promptly, and justly to preserve the peace, to rescue those in danger, to facilitate the arrival of assistance.
Second, give to reliable, trustworthy charitable disaster relief organizations. Don’t assume that because an organization has a long and laudable history it remains trustworthy. (The venerable Red Cross, for instance, spent 25% of funds donated for relief after the great earthquake in Haiti on internal expenses, a very high percentage and far more than it originally disclosed. Will it do better with funds donated for relief after Harvey? Only time will tell.) But keep in mind, too, that an organization you’ve never heard of could be illegitimate. Hundreds of scams arose in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, costing taxpayers “up to $2 billion.”
I personally prefer to give to disaster relief organizations run by Biblically faithful, evangelical churches—generally by experienced denominational disaster relief organizations with good track records. The Southern Baptist Convention North American Mission Board’s division of Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (which “promises donors that 100% of the donations they receive go directly to disaster relief efforts through their SEND Relief division”) and the Salvation Army are two of the three largest mobilizers of trained disaster relief volunteers in the U.S. (The Red Cross is the third.) Here are just a few others (and there are many more!) operated by Biblically faithful, evangelical denominations:
- The Presbyterian Church in America’s Mission to North America’s Disaster Response
- The Missouri Synod Lutheran Church’s Disaster Response working through World Relief and Human Care
- The Evangelical Free Church’s Crisis Response
- Christian and Missionary Alliance
- World Vision Hurricane Harvey Disaster Relief
To find and donate to your denomination’s disaster relief organization, do a web search for your denomination’s name plus “disaster relief” and “Hurricane Harvey.” Many other charitable disaster relief organizations can be found quickly through VOAD, the website of National Organizations Active in Disaster.
Third, as Ed Stetzer writes in Christianity Today, “start thinking about the next opportunity today, and make plans to become a trained volunteer. Before a natural disaster is even on the Weather Channel’s radar, we can begin the work involved in preparing for its coming. Becoming an informed, well-trained volunteer will help ensure a more effective, timely relief effort in the event of natural disaster.” State emergency management agencies can direct you to training programs, as can denominational disaster relief agencies.