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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.

100% of the money you give to The Courageous Community is tax deductible and goes to help leaders in our churches rebuild their lives. These are the people who would stand up and do the same for you if the tables were turned. We are asking on their behalf because they are too busy trying to get through the day to talk with you personally.

Gifts of any size are appreciated. You can give online at The Courageous Community. Reports on how the money is used and short reflections from leaders who receive gifts will be shared online with The Courageous Community.

Leaders may choose to use the gift for:

  • Renewal through spiritual and emotional care
  • Recovery of material resources lost in the disaster

How will the money be used?

Following a disaster, leaders who have been impacted personally or whose congregations / neighborhoods have been affected are interviewed and invited into The Courageous Community by a small team with representatives from the Bishop’s and LEAD staff. Each leader will be asked to commit to a one-year covenant with The Courageous Community in response to their own unique needs. In other words, this is a partnership between the leader, The Courageous Community, and LEAD that inspires agency not dependency.

Once leaders have entered into a covenant, they are connected to available resources through The Courageous Community. Each leader will be given a gift based the needs identified in their interview. At the end of the covenant period, which will be no longer than one year from the date of the event, each leader will be asked to write a short reflection on their experience.

For more information

Questions? Please email us. If you prefer a phone call, just ask in the email and include your phone number. LEAD exists to grow leaders with a deep, bold, consequential faith and we are grateful for your partnership in The Courageous Community.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Who are the leaders who will receive the money? Primary leaders in the affected churches (pastors, deacons, youth ministers, administrative staff, musicians, choir directors, preschool administrators, teachers, church council leadership) who covenant with LEAD.
  • How much money does each leader receive? The average gift will be $500 – $1,000..
  • Are there restrictions on how the leader can spend the money? The money must be spent within a year. Money given for recovery goes to material needs; money given for renewal goes to emotional and spiritual care. Specific purchases made with the money are up to the leader receiving the gift.
  • Can a leader apply for more funds? Yes. Whether additional funds are given will depend on the leader’s needs and availability of resources.
  • Who makes the decisions about gifts? A small team with representatives from the Bishop’s and LEAD staff.
  • How much money goes to the Bishop’s staff, to LEAD, or to LEAD staff? None. The only exception is if a volunteer on the Bishop’s or LEAD’s staff loses their home in a flood. In that case, these people are invited into a covenant relationship like everyone else.
  • What organizations are partners in The Courageous Community? The Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod, Lutheran Disaster Response, and LEAD are working together to support leaders through The Courageous Community.
  • Why is this called The Courageous Community? There are three primary reasons:
    • Leaders in the church generally focus on other people’s needs. It is a brave (and healthy) move for them to ask for help.
    • We do not know of any other organization that is designed to boldly ask leaders to give money to support other leaders.
    • Those who give do so with confidence believing that leaders in the church are doing the best that they can and acknowledging that we all have vulnerabilities. It takes courage to ask people what they need, without judgement or prescribed answers, and to respond directly to the needs expressed.