In recent days, Texas has suffered from a natural disaster that cannot have escaped your attention. News channels and internet feeds have been relaying information about the devastation caused. The situation is one of significance, not only because of its immediate impact, but because of the lengthy recovery that lies ahead.
Hurricane Harvey hit Texas last Saturday. Since then over 100,000 homes have been affected, with 32,000 people sleeping in emergency shelters. At least 33 people are dead and firefighters are undertaking a door-to-door search for survivors and bodies that could take up to two weeks. Storm Harvey may well have been downgraded to a tropical depression, but more rain and floods are expected. There are long-term ramifications from this disaster.
As you would expect The Salvation Army was quickly deployed, as we are always ready to respond to human need without discrimination. The Salvation Army in the U.S.A. is well resourced, trained and networked to be able to respond instantly and work in partnership with other agencies. As with other disasters around the world, The Salvation Army is not just there for the immediate crisis. We are there for the duration – to see people through the immediate disaster and to help them rebuild lives, homes, businesses and communities. This was true for the Sri Lanka earthquake, it was true for the Japanese tsunami – it will be true for Texas too.
One of the unique strengths of The Salvation Army is that we are one global family. Yes, we are one Army with one mission and one message; but more than that we are only family because we are brothers and sisters in Christ, co-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:16-17) and when one part of the body hurts, we all hurt (1 Corinthians 12:26).
To this end, I am calling our Salvation Army to respond in two ways.
Firstly, wherever you are and whatever you are doing, please pray:
- Pray for the emergency services who are still responding and serving on the front line
- Pray for our own emergency services as they respond to support the statutory emergency services and the local people impacted by this disaster
- Pray for good working relationships between local, state and national governments, as well as between NGOs
- Pray for a spirit of generosity, compassion and helpfulness to prevail
- Pray for people’s safety in the anticipated rain and floods to come
- Pray that people will turn to God as a source of hope when everything around them is lost
- Pray that everyone would work together for the rebuilding and transforming work that must be done in the years ahead.
Secondly, I’m calling the worldwide Salvation Army to action. We have now launched an international fundraising appeal to support the Storm Harvey emergency response. More information can be found on IHQ’s website (www.salvationarmy.org/harvey). Every one of us can respond in some way to provide help to our brothers and sisters in Texas. Whether you are able to give little or much, God will be able to bless whatever you give and the recipients of our care. This helps us to bring true the words of General John Gowans, when we wrote "Ours is not a distant God, remote, unfeeling, who is careless of our loneliness and pain, through the ministry of men he gives his healing, in their dedicated hands brings hope again. Someone cares" (Song 10, SASB). Here is an opportunity for us, the people of God, The Salvation Army, to demonstrate how much we care.
I encourage you to join me in prayer and action.