Be Prepared for Disaster Out on the Highways and Byways of Life

Be Prepared sign with sky background

Do you travel much? Or do you live in an area prone to hurricanes? Or maybe you live where flooding can occur within hours.

In the case of such a natural disaster, people try to flee to a safer place and can find themselves stuck along the highway without the bare necessities of life. For example, during Hurricane Rita in 2005, people fleeing the Houston area were literally stranded on the highways, even running out of gas since many of the service stations were also out of gas.

These people become the “least of these” whom Jesus referred to in Matthew 25:40. They are stranded and need help, just like the man the good Samaritan helped in Luke 10:25–37.

But how can you help? Here are some practical ways you can minister to them:

  1. Be prepared. Keep extra drinking water and nonperishable foods on hand for easy access. Pack a “go bag” with extra batteries, an emergency radio, clothes, boots, and toiletries, leaving room for medications. In case of an emergency evacuation, you can grab your “go bag” and your extra water and food. Gasoline in a can for your lawn mower can provide extra gas needed to get out of harm’s way.
  2. If you are not in immediate danger, then make a trip to the local supermarket to gather essentials for those stranded. Make sure you keep Bibles readily available to give away with supplies. You can also send out emails to church members to donate funds.
  3. If your church is a designated shelter, collect clothing, water, and nonperishables for emergencies. Find a storage area at your church to keep these in quantities as space is available. If your church is not a designated shelter, help provide supplies to shelters in your area. Consider putting emergency aid in your church’s budget to purchase supplies as needed. Or you can have an annual drive for donations and supplies.
  4. Train a team of workers who can respond at a moment’s notice to help victims of disasters. The team should go through evangelism and compassion training with your state convention before responding. Find contact information for your state disaster relief director on the North American Mission Board’s website.
  5. Ensure team members can provide the essential tools to help reach those who are stranded. You may need someone with a boat if the area is flooded. You may need someone with a chain saw if downed trees are blocking roads.

Remember that your purpose is to provide a cup of water in Jesus’ name. Take time to listen to the people you are helping. Pray for them as you listen, or ask if you can pray for them after you’ve heard their story. Jesus told us to always be prepared for His return, but it holds true for other life events too.

As a member of the Texas Baptist Men’s Disaster Response team and a former Air Force officer, Virginia Kreimeyer has responded to many disasters and writes these suggestions from those experiences.

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