Friday, January 15, 2010

Of Tragedies and Triumphs...

When word came from Haiti this week, the world stopped for a brief second and cried. A city lay in ruin and countless people are dead or injured. Others will starve, die of exposure, or of infection. The poorest nation on the planet had been dealt a blow inadequately described "severe." What do we do?

First, for many of us, we begin to pray. We pray for help; we pray for the victims; we pray for the brave volunteers already "on the ground"; we pray for a world to do more than just stop for a shocked moment--we pray for action, globally, from governments and money people, from armies to health care workers.

Secondly, we can send money. If you are part of a faith community, you can send contributions through your relief agency. For United Methodists, that is the United Methodist Committee on Relief, or UMCOR. Their website is at www.umcor.org . Catholic Charities, Lutheran Service Society--they will all be mobilizing to help Haiti over the coming weeks. The Red Cross is already present. Many mission societies and organizations such as World Vision International (www.worldvision.com) are responsible groups available to receive your sacrificial contribution to speed aid on the way.

Thirdly, we encourage persons to consider joining a short-term mission or aid team, which will be needed when the dust settles. If this interests you, start now to get your passport activated if you haven't traveled internationally for awhile. Check to see what immunizations you will need--get ready. Your local church or judicatory will be sending teams, as will many other secular organizations. If you have the kind of skills that could be helpful, get yourself ready. Also, your church may be collecting supplies for "health kits" or the like to send through relief agencies. Get on board with that, if you are not the kind to jump on a plane.

Finally, stay informed. Know what the needs are as they emerge over the coming weeks and see if you, your family, or the organizations with which you are affiliated can do anything to help.

If, as a person of faith or just spiritually curious, you are tempted to ask the "why" question, visit Dr. Eric Park's blog at www.ericpark.org . He has a wonderful and theologically sound posting there to help you work through the rough spots. Bottom line: ask less about "why?" and more about "what can we do?" It will do your soul good.

Where is the triumph in this? It will only be what we can put together by pulling together to help these poor souls who are our brothers and sisters in the human family. If you have ever been tempted to ask, like the guy in the gospel asked Jesus, "Who is my neighbor?", here's your answer. We, with God's help and the deep-reaching love of neighbors helping neighbors, may be able to build a triumph out of tragedy. It will take time, it will require much prayer, sacrifice, and action. But it can happen. And after Haiti has been rebuilt, shored-up, and strengthened, let us not again turn our backs on a poverty-stricken neighbor until disaster strikes.

May God's mercy and grace be with the people of Haiti. Shalom, beloved.

Dr. Jeff

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