As I have listened to the news recently, Psalm 46 has come to mind: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult” (NRSV).
It has been a tough few weeks with one hurricane making landfall on the Gulf Coast and then another in Florida and the Caribbean, an earthquake in Mexico, and fires throughout the western United States. Add to it the mudslides in Sierra Leone and the flooding in Southeast Asia.
There are millions of people reaching out to God to be their refuge and strength right now. I believe God rushes in to be present with people at times like this. God has a special concern for those who are vulnerable and afraid, whether it be during another “storm of the century” or some other kind of disaster, natural or human-made.
And I’m amazed by and thankful for all the people who rush in time after time—the Red Cross, first responders, emergency personnel, and others. This includes the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR). These groups are trained and ready to immediately respond when a disaster strikes in their area, state, or country. This isn’t by accident. It’s very intentional. UMCOR’s supply of flood buckets, health kits, and other relief supplies is mobilized before a disaster hits. Money is sent right from the beginning. Soon after, early response team members assist survivors by cleaning out flood-damaged homes, removing debris, putting tarps on houses, and helping to prevent further damage. Then later, scores of United Methodist Volunteers in Mission arrive to help with long-term recovery and re-building efforts. Following God’s lead, and inspired by the Holy Spirit, they, too, are a “very present help” in times of trouble.
Unfortunately, the floods, earthquakes, and fires are not going to stop. The mountains are going to keep shaking, and the waters will continue to roar and foam. Neither will UMCOR stop. You can help by becoming trained to be an effective early responder and/or Volunteer in Mission.
Two opportunities to do that are on the horizon, both happening on Saturday, Sept. 30—and I hope you’ll consider attending one:
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church