By Patrick Scriven | Director of Communications, Young People’s Ministries
First there was Hurricane Harvey. Next there was Hurricane Irma, and an 8.1-magnitude earthquake which rocked parts of Mexico and Guatemala. Even as we let out a collective sigh of relief as Hurricane Jose took a less destructive path heading north into the Atlantic, Hurricane Maria is devastating parts of the Carribean including Puerto Rico and another earthquake hit Mexico, this one a shallow 7.1 magnitude, leaving at least 250 dead. Throughout this time, much of the west has suffered through a rough wildfire season (UM Insight provides a good overview).
I was transfixed by the wall-to-wall coverage of Harvey and I’ve tried to keep on top of each subsequent disaster. But I am numb, the pace exhausts me. I don’t love as God loves.
Adding to my confession, these disasters are only the ones that have penetrated the media bubble I live in. US NEWS put together a list of the ten deadliest disasters of 2017 and I have to admit that I had either forgotten or never heard of at least half, and several were concurrent with the litany of names I listed above. The list is not exhaustive, and these are just the natural disasters. I don’t love as God loves.
There are days where I question why the Church exists. Sometimes I don’t feel like I get much out of it; consumer that I am. But it is the church’s message that reminds me that I live in a bubble, that however I define the neighbor I’m called to love, it’s probably too restrictive. The Gospel it carries convicts me of the truth that sometimes my compassion for my neighbor’s suffering is all bound up in how much they remind me of myself. I don’t love as God loves.
The church also helps to make possible my response. Last week several news outlets reported on the essential partnership faith organizations like UMCOR have with FEMA in U.S. disaster relief. But many of these organizations, including UMCOR, are engaged in work on our behalf around the globe, even in places that I will never travel to, with people I will never meet, whose stories I may never hear. I don’t love as God loves, but the Church can help to cover some of the gap.
Over the past few weeks, we’ve been sharing the U.S. Disaster Response Advance Numbers pretty frequently. I suspect a lot of people have given generously and hope they will continue to do so. Below, I’ll also provide the advance number for UMCOR’s international work, in case some are so moved.
To support efforts in U.S. states and territories, give to U.S. Disaster Response Advance #901670. To give to non-U.S. territories in the Caribbean, and to empower other efforts around the globe, please donate to International Disaster Response Advance #982450.
Give thanks to the God of heaven,
for God’s steadfast love endures forever.
– Psalm 136:26
Director of Communications, Young People’s Ministries