Creation Connection Chaos Hope
This time last week, we were marveling at God’s glory revealed in creation as we shared our stories of the eclipse. This week we are watching in horror at the destructive power of creation as Hurricane Harvey makes landfall for a second time in four days and the rains continue to fall from Texas to Louisiana. Almost everyone knows someone who lives in affected areas. On Sunday Terry Apter led the Installation of Officers for the Presbyterian Women; on Monday she asked for prayers for her sister, Jennifer, who lost everything to the flood.
Almost a year ago, we were watching, praying and collecting supplies for people from Florida to North Carolina as Hurricane Matthew made its way up the East Coast. Two members of West Raleigh sustained damage from that storm that kept them out of their homes for the better part of a year. We wanted to do something last fall and winter, but once the initial call for water and emergency supplies dried up, we were unsure what to do.
The Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) is the emergency response arm of our denomination. They focus on the long term recovery of disaster impacted communities. Once the skies have cleared, the damage assessed and the first responders have gone home, the PDA begins their work. Working in partnership with FEMA, local and State officials and local congregations, the PDA creates a network of support in the community. I have seen it work in my own hometown of Tuscaloosa, Alabama. After a monster tornado swept through in April 2011, the PDA helped First Presbyterian Church of Tuscaloosa serve as a hostel for Mission Teams that came from around the country. They partnered with Habitat for Humanity to rebuild a neighborhood for families who were displaced by the tornado. Congregations went to New Orleans for over a decade (some still go) to help rebuild and revitalize after Katrina. This year, on the one year anniversary of Hurricane Matthew, we are sending a Mission Team to Kinston, NC in partnership with Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) to help rebuild homes damaged in that storm. For years Presbyterians have been known as the ones who go late and stay long.
We are a connectional church. It goes all the way back to the very beginning. Paul described the church as the Body of Christ. “If one member suffers, all suffer together with it…” When people suffer, we suffer with them – surely not in the way that they suffer, but the Spirit moves us to stand in solidarity and urges us to help, because that is what we do. It is who we are as the people of God.
There are ways to help, to stand with those who need it and ways to serve that are useful. First, you can give. Make a contribution to the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance here. There is a red ribbon at the top of the website that goes directly to designate your contribution for Hurricane Harvey relief. Second, you can still sign up to be part of the Mission Team going to Kinston on September 23-24th.
In their most recent post, the PDA opened with a quote from the Song of Solomon, “Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it” (8:7). May rivers of love flow in and through God’s people as we pray, give and serve together.