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FIRST-PERSON: Flood relief in Jesus' name
PENSACOLA, Fla. (BP) -- We all watched on television and social media, aghast, as Hurricane Harvey and its floods devastated much of south Texas and adjacent parts of Louisiana. Praise God that His people and His churches have shown His love in amazing ways -- heroic rescues; provision of food, water, shelter and clothing; helping and hugging; and compassionate chaplaincy.
Enormous help with recovery, however, will continue long-term, especially in view of Hurricane Irma's potential devastation as it barrels toward the southeast U.S.
Here's an important question: As you send, pray, give or go to help, how can you assure that victims know you represent the Lord Jesus Himself? As Colossians 3:17 instructs, "Whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus...."
Here are five ideas for getting involved along with simple tips for doing them in Jesus' name accompanied by a word from Scripture.
Make a donation.
Be certain your financial contribution is given in Jesus' name. Our Southern Baptist Disaster Relief is the nation's third-largest disaster relief organization. Our Cooperative Program funds it, and in elevated crisis situations additional funding is desperately needed. Be sure that it underwrites more than good deeds but, rather, hands-on Christian witness in Jesus' name. You can donate through your church, state convention or the North American Mission Board.
1 Timothy 6:18: "Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others."
Pray for grieving, injured, homeless, weary survivors. Pray for government officials and policemen, firemen and city workers, for teachers, for the elderly and children. Pray they'll know God's love. Pray for pastors and churches and for disaster relief teams and volunteers as they represent our Lord.
Psalm 34:18: "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed."
Thousands more Southern Baptists will be needed for disaster relief and recovery in the coming months and years. They will go in the name of Jesus. Whom will your church send?
Sign up individuals or teams to volunteer and train through the SBC's www.NAMB.net or your state Baptist convention. The work is hard; the needs are overwhelming. Crews will feed people, chainsaw downed trees, do mud-outs, tarp roofs. DR volunteers will do cleanup, administrative tasks, temporary childcare and chaplaincy. They will show God's love to a crying child, a discouraged stranger, a hurting church. They'll freely share a smile, a hug, a listening ear, a prayer. Often they will say, "God loves you" and "I'm praying for you" as they engage in Gospel conversations in Jesus' name.
Before volunteers leave your church, offer a special commissioning prayer.
Hebrews 13:16: "And don't forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God."
Send additional resources.
If your church, Baptist association or state convention is shipping needed items, add a witness. For example, write "Jesus loves me" on a shovel handle that may be used by a flood survivor. Put a Christian sticker on every peanut butter jar or a Scripture in each box of diapers. Texas churches and others can consider preparing relief buckets (visit sbtexas.com/harvey and click on "Buckets for Harvey") and add a personal note inside each bucket.
Isaiah 58:10: "Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon."
Help another congregation.
A church or small group could select a specific church in one of the affected areas to help directly. Contact your state Baptist convention for a recommendation or contact a pastor directly, then sacrificially assist with their needs.
Galatians 6:10: "Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone -- especially to those in the family of faith."
What a historic opportunity to minister to others in the name of Jesus. Good deeds are good; but good deeds done in His name can truly impact eternity.