Leaders everywhere are asking: How can we help our peers following a natural disaster?
We know you care. We know you want to make a difference in places where floodwaters have wiped out churches and entire neighborhoods, where farmland has been devastated.
Loving, caring people send donated hand-me-downs. Volunteers show up to lend a hand. But these good intentions often miss the mark. Before we give, we need to stop and listen to those who are living in the midst of the crisis. We need to ask, “What do you need?” “How can we help?”
The LEAD Team is practicing what we preach. We are listening to leaders who are serving flooded congregations in flooded neighborhoods where the streets are still lined with mountains of debris. Debris that, just weeks ago, was floors and walls, furniture and cabinets, drywall and insulation…before the water came…before the mold set in.
We’ve heard their stories and want to share what we’ve learned.
It may surprise you. Honestly, it may even disappoint you a little. But here is the truth:
We need you to send money.
We need money to help rebuild the church, both the buildings and the people.
We need money to support the leaders, so that in a few years, those leaders are moving forward with missional energy and a renewed passion for the Gospel, not burned out and exhausted, struggling to care for their congregations while their own needs go unmet.
Loving your neighbor without the time, space, and resources to love yourself too can be crushing to the soul.
BEFORE this weariness sets in, before the needs are forgotten and the busy-ness of life once again takes over, we want you to join us in The Courageous Community.
It takes courage to give what people really need. It takes courage to recognize that in the midst of a crisis, there’s neither time nor energy to be concerned if the volunteer feels useful, or if the all too frequent giver of cast-offs and leftovers feels fulfilled.
Don’t get me wrong. There may be a time and a place for these gifts in the work of recovery. But the leaders in the trenches are the ones to say if and when that time and place is right.
So, what are the leaders saying? Here are a few soundbites for your listening hearts:
When my office flooded, I had to throw out my whole library. Sure, I could have dried out a few books but honestly; I didn’t have the bandwidth to sort that out. At this stage in my career, I don’t think I will ever rebuild that library. But the thing is, I used those books every week when I wrote my sermon and I still have to preach.
What this IS NOT: I need someone to send me their old books.
What this IS: I wish I could replace a few books but I can’t justify the cost when our church didn’t have flood insurance and the neighborhood we serve is filled with flooded people who didn’t have flood insurance.
We got the preschool up and running as fast as we could after the flood. It was our top priority. Not just because we know our families depend on it for childcare, but because we employ 28 people who did not get paid for the month we were closed. Some of those people flooded AND didn’t have a paycheck. The least we can do is get people back to work.
What this IS NOT: We need volunteers to muck out the church. We could and did do this ourselves.
What this IS: We feel horrible that we can’t pay people even a small portion of their salary because we still have to rebuild the rest of the church, including the sanctuary.
A wall of water slammed into our homes. We have never flooded before.
There were elderly people in nursing homes sitting in wheelchairs with water up to their chests.
My baby and I evacuated by boat but I don’t know what happened to the cat.
Over 400 hay bales sat in floodwater for a week and now my cattle that didn’t drown are eating rotting hay.
We had to bring the new baby home from the hospital to someone else’s home because that was the day the dam was opened and flooded my neighborhood. The baby’s room is gone.
I’m living with my son, so are his in-laws.
We saw deer sitting on top of the hay bales as they floated in the water, like boats, while we tried to herd the cows down the highway to dry ground. Dead calves are everywhere.
What this IS NOT: We need truckloads of donations.
What this IS: We need spiritual support to help us sort out where God is in the midst of this hell.