I’ve been working around natural disasters much of my life, but it’s not often that we see back-to-back hurricanes like the ones that crisscrossed Florida in August and September. I went there to assess the needs, consult with our ministry teams on the ground and reach out to the victims.
After a disaster like this, we often wonder what God is saying through it all. Just as Elijah did in 1 Kings 19, we should listen for the gentle whisper that followed the mighty wind. In that whisper we can hear God saying, “I love you. No matter how hard your circumstances are, trust Me, and I’ll see you through them.” If we listen, we will hear people tell how God answered their prayers and spared their lives. If we look, we’ll see volunteers who patch roofs in the heat of the day and share the Gospel when repairs are complete.
Those are the people I had the opportunity to address when I was invited to Florida for a prayer service in Port Charlotte organized by Gov. Jeb Bush two weeks after Hurricane Charley. God’s people have responded in a powerful way, and the Church is making an impact. It has been a blessing for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association’s Rapid Response Team and the Samaritan’s Purse Disaster Relief Unit to be a part of the response.
Insurance companies call storms like Charley or Frances “acts of God,” meaning catastrophes beyond human control. But the act of God that we need to focus on took place 2,000 years ago, when God sent His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, into this world to rescue us–not to destroy us.
The Bible tells us that when we put our faith in Him, we need not fear the storms of life. “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock” (Matthew 7:24-25, NIV).
A hurricane reminds us that we are small and vulnerable compared with the unpredictable and uncontrollable forces of nature. It reminds us of the brevity of life and of the urgency of making sure that we’re ready to stand before God at a moment’s notice.
More important than that which is torn down by the storms of life is that which endures for eternity–the work of Christ on the Cross that reaches across the centuries, demonstrating God’s love for mankind. When we trust God, we having nothing to lose–not even in a hurricane.
The Bible says, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21, NIV).
That passage defines the mission of our Disaster Relief Unit and our Rapid Response Team. We don’t just patch roofs, clear debris and salvage mementos. Our workers take time with disaster victims to encourage them, to comfort them, to pray with them and to make sure they know the Gospel so they can find a home in heaven through faith in Christ. That’s their greatest need. So that’s our greatest emergency.