Monday, May 2, 2011

Five Ways to Reach Out to Families In Crisis

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One year ago today, the flood waters had risen and ravaged our beautiful city. We will never look at rain the same way. The historic Nashville Flood was of epic proportions, and it changed the way we think, live, and perceive the community around us. As we received so much help from our community and neighboring states, we want to help our friends and neighbors who have experienced such utter devastation from last week's tornadoes. No matter where you live, there are people all around you, all the time, who are experiencing crises of some sort. How can you reach out?

Be there. Being there is one of the first ways to minister in an emergency situation. You may think that there's nothing you can do, but when a family is waiting on a doctor's diagnosis or a police report, there's nothing anyone can do. Waiting together is much preferred to waiting alone.

Be sensitive. A lack of sensitivity on our part most often leads to crisis situations being overlooked. Unfortunately, our busy lives can hinder us from reaching out to one another. Just because you may not know anyone in your immediate circle of friends who was affected in this round of southern tornadoes doesn’t mean you aren’t still connected to someone who does. Tight relationships can be essential in avoiding some of life's derailments. Ask around, and see how you can help.

Be committed. It's all too easy to muddle the essential after-care during difficult times. When the immediate crisis is over, the church family, especially, must still be available. Real love is for the long-term. This after-care can come in the thoughtfulness of a phone call, card, or visit. And never discount the fundamental value of hospitality. After the death or divorce of a spouse, for example, home isn't the same anymore. Most people would gladly receive an evening shared with another family.

Be practical. In times of crisis, the spiritual must link with the practical. Jesus demonstrated this. His ministry was one of hands-on action while still speaking to the needs of the soul. Both the Red Cross and The Salvation Army are accepting donations to help tornado victims. The youth pastor at my church, Troy Perry, is taking a truck full of supplies down to Athens, AL, this weekend. [If you are in the Nashville area and would like to contribute non-perishable food items, diapers, or bottled water, please bring them to Madison First Baptist Church during office hours (9am – 3pm) this week.]

Be quiet. What could be worse in the aftermath of devastation than idle chatter from a trusted church family? Many times, gossip is thinly veiled in the form of "prayer requests." We need to be vigilant as we guard our tongues during the tough times, keeping confidences and details to ourselves, even when inquiring minds want to know, and always being diligent to pray for the needs shared with us.

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Sarah said...

I LOVE that you pointed out that prayer requests can be abused as a way to gossip. So true, and people so rarely acknowledge that.

Rebecca Ingram Powell said...

Thanks, Sarah. Unfortunately, one of the reasons I know people do that is because I have been guilty of it myself, so I have had to learn to constantly examine my motives when "sharing" a prayer request.

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