In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, displaced Texas and Louisiana residents are seeking refuge. Many have found comfort behind the doors of churches, synagogues, mosques, and temples. The hospitality of these religious centers has started a worldwide conversation about the duty of faith leaders to provide relief. How should we help God’s people in times of trouble? Is it ever okay to close our doors to them?
Taking on the Burden
In times of trouble, it is not only our responsibility to help but also to take on the troubles of our fellow believers as our own. Service to our neighbors is service to God.
Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2
This truth was with The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints (LDS), Council of Islamic American Relations, Catholic Charities USA, Salvation Army and many other religious organizations as the impacts of the category-four storm came to light. Among the list of groups who offered words of prayer and solace, what stood out the most was the actions of these faith organizations.
Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico on September 16th. Read, "Puerto Rico: Responding to a Climate Emergency According to God’s Word" on the BT blog.
After encouraging people of the LDS, the church made the following statement about Hurricane Harvey volunteers:
"Many are expressing interest in helping the thousands of people in the stricken communities in Texas and Louisiana. We are grateful for all who wish to assist in this effort."
In Houston, Mustafaa Carroll from the Council on Islamic American Relations announced how active the Muslim community has been in helping hurricane survivors.
"Over 25 mosques in the Houston area have opened their doors to those seeking shelter from this deadly storm."
Each of the buildings that opened their doors provided a place of warmth and healing to Hurricane Harvey survivors. This is an act of God’s love that should always be extended to his people. But no organization should have to take on this massive responsibility alone.
Sharing the Burden
Different faith groups hold separate practices but there is much similarity in our values. Believers want to help God’s people. Working together as an interfaith body can be just the help that the people of Houston and other affected cities need.
Carroll from the Council of Islamic American Relations is all about sharing the burden, and recently gave this statement:
I'm praying that all these people of different backgrounds working together to help the people of Houston will be a catalyst to build more bridges between us; the response of people uniting to work for a common good is truly a testament to the good of America.
Easing the Burden
Leaving no options for people in need can test one’s soul. Faith calls us to the aid of humanity just as it calls us to care for the Earth so that disasters like Hurricane Harvey do not occur. When we go against our duty to God’s people our faith is weakened.
Whoever fulfilled the needs of his brother, God will fulfill his needs; whoever brought his brother out of discomfort, God will bring him out of the discomforts of the Day of Resurrection, and whoever screened [provided sanctuary to] a Muslim, God will screen [provide a sanctuary] to him on the Day of Resurrection. Islamic Hadith (Bukhari)
Easing the burden laid upon God’s people during and after the recent hurricane is a true act of stewardship. For this service, God will send his blessings.
A Statement from ecoAmerica
Adapting to a future in which a millennium-scale flood can wipe out a major city is much harder than preventing that flood in the first place. By and large, the built world we have right now wasn’t constructed with climate change in mind. By continuing to pretend that we can engineer our way out of the worsening flooding problem with bigger dams, more levees and higher-powered pumping equipment, we’re fooling ourselves into a more dangerous future.
Nichole Tucker earned a Master's degree in Media & International Conflict from University College Dublin to help improve global issues, like climate change. Prior to joining Blessed Tomorrow, Nichole worked with the advocacy team at World Vision International.
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