Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it for me.” (Matthew 25:40) Thankfully, American Christians are taking that admonition to heart.
It seems that when things in the world are at their worst, things in the church are at their best. The disaster wrecked by Hurricane Katrina has provoked a beautiful Gospel response as relief efforts are being organized all over the nation. Here in Middle Tennessee the Nashville Presbytery Disaster Response Team has, in coordination with the PCA Disaster Response Coordinators, developed a preliminary plan for our local congregations to quickly respond to the devastation along the Gulf coast. It is still too early to determine exactly where we will focus the bulk of our efforts and resources, but whatever we do it will be done in support of the ministries of local churches in the areas of greatest devastation. The Disaster Response Coordinators are currently doing assessments and are in contact with a large number of pastors and congregations in and around New Orleans, Biloxi, Gulfport, and Mobile
Our Presbytery Team has begun to put together a basic plan so that all of our churches will be able to organize themselves for a very rapid, gracious, and practical response. Pastors, local church leaders, and staffs are already embracing and promoting this plan in their churches. Together we are preparing to do much more with greater effectiveness than we could ever have done alone.
Thus, this Sunday and next-- September 4 and September 11--several of our churches will be receiving a Disaster Relief Offering. We will also begin soliciting volunteers for work teams to go to the hardest hit areas on four consecutive weekends during the month of September. The plan is for volunteers to depart Nashville at 4:00 PM on Thursday and return late on Sunday afternoon. This will allow almost three full days for work, Friday through Sunday (excluding time for worship). The first team will go out September 8-11; the second team on September 15-17; the third on September 22-25; and the fourth on September 29-October 2. We'll then look at the possibility of a longer-term commitment.
One of the members of our local Disaster Response Team, Cammy Bethea--who also serves in the missions office of Christ Community Church in Franklin--will be the contact person for those interested in volunteering for one of these trips. You can contact Cammy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Besides the offering and the solicitation of volunteers, the Disaster Response Team is also developing a plan to collect essential personal and household items for those who have lost so much. The volunteers on the Team will insure that all the collected items are quickly transported to the places of greatest need and that they are distributed to those who have suffered the most. A list of needed items is currently being prepared--I'll post the list as soon as it becomes available.
If efforts like this in your hometown or local church are flagging—or perhaps lacking altogether--maybe you’re just the person to get them up and going. Or maybe you just need to contact Cammy to see how you can connect with or contribute to our efforts here. Or we could forward your gifts to the Team through King's Meadow, if that is easier for you. One way or another, let us together show forth the beauty of the Gospel in this time of grave need (see the essay below).
“He has shown you, O man, what is good and what the Lord requires of you: but to do justice, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)