In one month's time, there is a small semblance of order in Rockport, as the debris is beginning to be cleaned up and piled on the curbs, waiting to be hauled off. But, there are no words to describe the amount of debris! And the repairs of homes, if they haven't been condemned, is still weeks away. Tent cities that I think must resemble those of the Dust Bowl era dot the landscape, while Relief Tents offering a hot meal and clothes have become a mainstay of the communities.
|Puerto Rico, last Wednesday|
And as the Bible says, we are to love our neighbors, --- all our neighbors. Why is that? The Bible says, "so that we may show ourselves to be the children of God". So what should the response be of the children of God to all this suffering we have witnessed in the last month? Certainly, giving of our time and money to alleviate the suffering are worthy acts of the children of God. But it has been interesting to see the response of the Christian community to the suffering in my own backyard.
As expected, churches were eager to help in those first couple of weeks after Hurricane Harvey struck. Groups signed up to haul debris, and chainsaw crews were especially needed to clear property of the twisted oaks that were a hallmark of this hurricane. Food and water were distributed in those initial days when both were scarce. And I will say that the response from the Christian community outshone the presence of FEMA and Red Cross.
But, here we are a month later, and there is still so much work to do. Not only have people begun to be less motivated to lend a helping hand, but I believe they are experiencing what I would term "disaster fatigue" or "disaster overload". There have been so many natural disasters that we have become numb to the need of our fellow man, and there is a sense that it is so overwhelming, or so far away, that we couldn't possibly make a difference.
That is not to be the attitude of the Christian! When Jesus tells us to love our neighbor as ourself, He isn't talking about your next door neighbor, or the neighbor in your own city, or even the neighbor in your state. Our neighbors are any fellow human being who has a need or who is suffering; regardless of whether we identify with them or not. According to the Bible we have a responsibility to relieve that suffering. It doesn't matter if we have a litany of excuses ... our job, our family, our finances, our time, or we think it's been long enough, the government is going to step in and take over.
|Rockport, TX today|
Of course, secular voices, like those suggested by USA Today, will tell you that the best thing people can do is donate money. But I disagree. Yes, it takes money to provide the physical things that will restore people's lives. But, as witnessed by my first-hand experience, it is the willingness of a stranger to come to your aid; to lay a hand on your shoulder and tell them you care; to pray over them as you leave their circumstances a little better than you found them; and to ask God to keep them and provide for them -- those are the things that will feed their souls and strengthen their spirits.
I know this may seem like a rambling piece of writing, but I just had to comment on the great need of the human race at this time ... that we love our neighbor as ourself. We can have empathy and we should pray for them. But we shouldn't stop there. This is the time that the Body of Christ can shine brightest. I know in my heart that there are many Christians doing the work of Christ at this time, and I praise the Lord with gratitude and thanksgiving for their loving hearts. The commitment to love our neighbor should be our priority in the world right now ... Let us be the Church as Jesus created us to be.
Mark 12:30-31, 34 "And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these ... You are not far from the kingdom of God."