Guidelines for Responding to Disaster
Composed in response to the Dec. 2004 Asian tsunami
By Geoff Tunnicliffe, former secretary general of The World Evangelical Alliance
Whenever a generous outpouring of humanitarian aid begins in response to a disaster, it is important to ask questions that will help guide your response as a congregation or as an individual. As followers of Jesus we want to reflect His compassionate concern for the suffering in a way that will produce the greatest impact. Here are some questions and ideas for you to consider.
- Above all else pray for those involved in the crisis.
- Recognize that giving funds to your denominational program or to an experienced agency is probably the most effective way of assisting in the early days (weeks) of a crisis.
- In deciding which agency to give to ask:
a. Do we already have a relationship with a particularly organization or missionary?
b. Does the agency (or agencies) we are considering helping have a track record of responding to major disasters?
c. Does the agency (or agencies) reflect my/our ethos?
d. How is the aid going to help the national church serve their community?
e. Coordination is absolutely critical in responding to such a crisis. Will our gift assist in helping leverage the impact of other aid and decrease unnecessary duplication?
- If your church has missionaries or partners in the affected region, be sensitive to their needs. They themselves may be traumatized by the situation. Have one person in your church serve as the communication point person in this, to avoid inundating your partner with e-mail.
- There will be a desire by many people to put together a team to go help. While this desire is admirable, it is imperative that you do this in partnership with an experienced agency. In normal circumstances it is challenging to facilitate short-term teams; in a major crisis it can be overwhelming. Ask your partner agency or denomination if they have specific personnel needs in the short term. As the long-term reconstruction needs become more evident, it might be more appropriate to send this kind of help later. However, before any team is sent we would urge you to follow the well-established best practices in short-term mission.
- Can you join with other churches in your community in developing a co-operative response to one country/town/city/village or project? This kind of focus will help you understand the impact you are making.
- Consider establishing a task force in your church to respond to a major crisis. This team can spearhead a fundraising drive in your church and community.
Typical Prayer Requests for Disaster-hit Areas
Composed in response to the Jan. 2010 earthquake in Haiti
By Gerald Seale, general secretary and CEO of the Evangelical Association of the Caribbean
- Ongoing intercession for the people and government. They may be dealing with devastation and destruction that is unprecedented in their lifetime.
- Ongoing intercession for the responders who will be going to help. It is not unusual for these persons to be plagued with deep depression and exhaustion as they seek to help the injured and dying and as they move people from shock and grief to rebuilding the nation.
- Pray earnestly for the co-ordination of the aid that will be flowing in from numerous sources. Pray against corruption that always raises its ugly head in these situations and pray for the aid to quickly reach the people who need it.
- Pray for pastors and church leaders who – while dealing with their own shock, grief and loss – will be ministering to everyone around them. Pray for their spiritual, psychological and emotional strength and their daily renewal so that they can minister effectively in this situation.
- Pray that the region will be able to move quickly from disaster relief to planned reconstruction and that God will grant wisdom to rebuild stronger and better.
- Pray for all those who will be making decisions on the relief and reconstruction phases. With God’s help a country can rise from tragedy and even become a stronger and better nation.
- Pray that God will lead you to a meaningful response.
Guidelines From the International Committee on Fundraising Organizations
Courtesy of the Canadian Council of Christian Charities
In the event of an emergency or a natural disaster, many appeals are made to raise funds for a response. As a donor, you want to be sure your donation will be used wisely and effectively. The following guidelines were developed by the International Committee on Fundraising Organizations (of which the Canadian Council of Christian Charities is the Canadian member):
- Donate quickly, but carefully. Stick to one or two charities you are familiar with and trust. Be wary of any fundraising group created specifically for this appeal. Any spontaneous campaign should clearly state the charities to which they will forward the donations.
- Support charities that are already established in the disaster area and either have local competence and experience in disaster aid/emergency response or an established relationship with a strong, qualified local agency.
- Make it absolutely clear that your donation is being given for the emergency/disaster response. If a charity raises more money than it needs, it can (and should) tell you in advance how the surplus donations will be used (e.g., for other emergencies or where most needed).
- Do not send “in-kind” donations (e.g., clothing, blankets, food) unless they are specifically requested.
If you are thinking about making a donation to a charity’s emergency or disaster appeal, you can check the CCCC directory to see if the charity is a certified member of CCCC that has demonstrated compliance with CCCC Standards of Accountability. You can also find information on any charity from the Canada Revenue Agency. CCCC provides guidelines on interpreting this information.