Jesus said to him, the foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the son of man has nowhere to lay his head.
Our fellow Americans in Texas are facing in Hurricane Harvey one of the greatest natural disasters this country has ever seen. It was just 12 years ago that we faced this with Hurricane Katrina. We watched from a distance as thousands of people who were already dealing with economic struggles, some with mental health and substance abuse issues, were abandoned by inadequate structures.
The end result was a plea from FEMA and the governor of Louisiana, asking the surrounding states and the country to take in the families who had no place to live. North Carolina took their share of homeless and Asheville was asked to take about 200 families. ABCCM worked with FEMA, the Red Cross and Salvation Army as the lead agency because their professionals and volunteers had been dispatched to the Gulf Coast. We could access information on those who were legitimately in need. ABCCM worked with individuals, churches and camps to house over 230 families.
In the coming weeks, the scope of this disaster will become more widely known. We are all praying for our fellow Americans, our neighbors in Texas and the Gulf region. We encourage you to support disaster relief efforts through your denomination, because every major denomination has a disaster relief arm; or through the Red Cross, Salvation Army or Samaritan’s Purse. With disasters of this scope and scale, we believe that you can get the greatest amount of resources to the largest number of people in need through those organizations that are already equipped.
There are some things that we don’t want to do. We don’t want to just send clothes or household items because so much of that ends up overwhelming the disaster relief systems. We do want to support with financial assistance, or efforts to provide some of the basic necessities, such as water.
Scams always increase right after a disaster. ABCCM can help our pastors and local church leaders with this. Please consider contacting one of our Crisis Ministries to check out the names of individuals or families claiming to be affected from the flooded areas. We will be able to connect with FEMA and/or the Red Cross in the national disaster database to identify those areas which are valid. Don’t be afraid to ask to see a valid driver’s license so that we can verify that someone actually lived in an affected area. Be skeptical of those who say that they have lost their driver’s license or have no way to prove where they lived.
ABCCM will be prepared, as we were 12 years ago, to help house families that are legitimately fleeing the Gulf region. We will receive referrals directly from disaster relief providers like FEMA, the Red Cross and Salvation Army. While our hearts go out to these needs and we want to respond, it is important to be responsible in meeting those needs. There are always legitimate cases that are easy to validate through family or friends. We certainly want to support those. But take an extra minute, when things don’t quite add up, so we can have the greatest resources meet the greatest number of needs.
Let’s also remember how homelessness produces isolation, fear and trauma. ABCCM needs volunteers more than ever right now. We need 500 additional volunteers over the next three months. Consider volunteering. Call and receive training as a volunteer, which will better equip you to go help those in the disaster region – or right here at home. Crisis comes in the form of lost jobs, broken marriages, abandonment and other depressing challenges. Life and death decisions are being made during this opioid epidemic. As God’s people, let us continue to work through our Crisis Ministries, our clinic, our transitional living facilities for the homeless and Jail Ministry to open the doors of grace and mercy. We want to give a second chance, offer a new strategy, and more importantly, let people know how much God loves them and cares for them. Thank you for your prayers and letting our neighbors know they are loved.
Reverend Scott Rogers