After Hurricane Katrina (and those that followed close on its heels), more than 40,000 refugees arrived in the city of Austin. We, the church, was not ready. Many pastors were turned away from the refugee centers because they were not equipped or authorized to deal with the situation. (Plus there was some very negative feedback because a few pastors who had gone into the centers had told people that the situation they were in was a result of sin and that God was angry with them.)
A man called Daniel Geraci decided to do something about any future, similar situations. He approached the Red Cross and found out what was needed to train Christians so they can help in disaster situations. He contacted many of the churches in the city to see if they would be prepared to offer training to their people. As a result, now, a few years later, Austin is one of the most ready cities in the nation to cope with disaster. Thousands of Christians have been trained in basic skills to meet the emotional, physical and spiritual needs of those affected by disaster. If a future "Katrina" occurs, Christians will be those running the relief centers. Already, the Austin Disaster Relief Network has been called on to help in situations of flood and fire locally, and is sending teams to places like Joplin to help following the tornadoes that devastated that city.
I am currently taking the ADRN courses that satisfy the government's requirements to be allowed to help. (I've sensed for some time that Christians need to be prepared.) It's making me think a lot about readiness.
Are we, the church, prepared? Natural disasters open people up to the Gospel–think of the increase in church attendance after 9/11. Disasters are occurring all around the world with unprecedented frequency. Are we, the church, including the simple/organic church, ready? Would we know what to do? Do we have the skills necessary to offer spiritual and emotional support to others in crisis situations?
Should we be getting ready? What would that entail?