Isaiah 40:11: He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries the close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.
Sometimes, after natural disasters, popular Evangelists communicate a message on social media acknowledging the disaster and offer a some words of wisdom (or not). We’ve seen some doozies over the years from John Piper, Pat Robertson, Tony Miano, etc. Many use the tragedy and try to fit it into the framework of their doctrinal beliefs —and it can come out very bad — making it look like God loves inflicting people with trauma. Yuck! Talk about anti-evangelizing!
Here is one such example:
Recently, there has been a lot of social media hoopla over Joel Osteen and his megachurch, Lakewood, and how they were slow to open up the facility for disaster relief (here’s an article that seems to be more unbaised than others).
The important message regarding the Osteen/Lakewood attention is that the world is watching to see what church leaders and Christians do during this ongoing natural disaster. Are we doing what we should be doing in a crisis? Are we walking the talk?
Thankfully, I’ve seen some beautiful people doing more walking than talking.
Here are a couple of women using social media to help those in need (and a church responding to the crisis):
You may have seen this image in the media. Brian Roberson captured the image below as he was surveying Hurricane Harvey damage. He discovered that the man on top of the car was a pastor who had canceled his church service, and instead, waded through the flood to stranded vehicles to make sure people weren’t trapped inside. He didn’t ask for his picture to be taken. He was busy doing potentially life-saving work in his community.
The man continued deep into the water, knocked on car windows one by one and checked inside.
At one point, he climbed on top of a black SUV with tinted windows to get a better look, shouting to see if anyone was trapped inside. Fortunately, no one was. . . .
The man checked at least five vehicles stranded in the middle of the flooded freeway.
“I’m not coming back until I check them twice,” he yelled to onlookers.
This is a pastor who is looking at people’s physical well-being and responding immediately. God bless this man!
He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Ps 23
Here is another pastor who is keenly aware of the spiritual toll that takes place during tragedies. Scott Jones, Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church of Rockport, Texas wrote this in a blog article after Hurricane Harvey struck:
When, where, and how will I see the goodness of my God and praise him? After the events of this past weekend, this is a fair question. I am heartbroken by the devastating loss so many families are experiencing. I realize the path ahead is painful and difficult. I did not ask for any of this. When will things get better?
He shares of his own struggles, yet then acts as a shepherd, encouraging, giving comfort. He not only addresses their spiritual and emotional issues, but addresses the physical needs his community will face.
Countless individuals, churches and organizations from around the world have reached out to me pledging love, prayers, help, and material support. When the “all clear” is given, they will come to our community. We are not alone. There is help. There is hope. God will reveal himself in power and glory.
Every resident I know from Aransas County is eager to return and begin the process of rebuilding and healing together. We want to show our support for one another, for our officials and first-responders, for local businesses, for our schools, for the hurting, the broken, the frightened. God will reveal His love, compassion, and mercy.
This is a comforting message to a congregation. There are no news stations, no fanfare on social media, no drama, just a humble pastor sharing his heart with his people, offering hope and encouragement.
I love Dr. Diane Langberg’s writings on trauma.
It’s wonderful to see many Christians, church leaders, churches doing the right thing. If you have any more stories to share, please do!