Ways to Serve
by Mike Kennamer
The most popular training session I do is entitled, "14 Ways to Get Involved in Disaster Response Ministry." Some of these ways, such as going to disaster sites, is obvious. Others, however, are not quite as apparent. Over the next few months I'll talk about each one and encourage you to consider getting involved in whatever way(s) you are led.
Let us begin with the most obvious.
Go to Disaster Sites to Serve
This one is clearly at the heart of the ministry. But let's first discuss why we go. My first disaster response trip was to Biloxi, Mississippi three weeks after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast in 2005. Although I'm a B- handyman around the house (C- when it comes to plumbing), I didn't go to Biloxi armed with any special skills or expectations. I only came with the desire that God gave Isaiah (6:8) when he said, "Here am I! Send me." In fact, that was the verse that I carried with me as I mucked out houses, carried refrigerators and appliances to the curb, cleaned up yards, and tarped roofs. That attitude of service is what we are looking for when we invite volunteers to serve at disaster sites.
On another occasion we took a team to Bay Saint Louis (MS) intending to build two Sheds of Hope. We carried the tools we needed, had our teams in place, and had studied the plans. We had a check to pay for the materials. We were ready. But when we arrived we learned that the site manager needed help in finishing two houses. We did a good amount of finish work, including electrical, plumbing, and trim. That willingness to pivot and do things that we had not planned for was very helpful to the site manager, who was trying to manage the bigger picture. With that said, please know that a site manager will never ask you to do anything which you are uncomfortable doing.
Men, I'm talking to you (and me) now. Many of us, by nature, are very task oriented. It's all about getting the job done and then moving on to the next job. And getting the job done is important. But it is not as important as the people for whom you are working. In the aftermath of a disaster we have the very special privilege of being invited into the lives of people who we would never have met otherwise. People who have been devastated by a disaster need to tell their story, to be heard. We cannot afford to squander that opportunity. The work is important, but not as important as the imagebearers who have just experienced what might have been their worst day yet. The simple act of listening is a way to help restore some measure of dignity from those who have been stripped of many or all of their worldly possessions.
So if you are able and willing to go to a disaster site, please let us know. The main requirement is a willing and caring heart. Want to hear more? Contact me and let's discuss.