By Bishop L. Jonathan Holston
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.”—Psalm 46:1-3 (NIV)
Across the Caribbean, Texas and Florida, the devastation of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria is extensive. While there is tremendous evidence of God’s faithfulness in our midst, we recognize that these are trying times that are overwhelming and often lead us to think there is nothing we can do to help.
As United Methodists, we can be the hands and feet of God to those who have lost so much. Through the United Methodist Committee on Relief, we can support the relief and recovery efforts in significant ways.
We are a connectional church, which means that we are not alone as we respond faithfully to communities in crisis. To that end, I ask you to again consider these opportunities to assist our neighbors in the recovery process.
Pray for those affected by the storms. Pray for all who are working tirelessly to provide relief. Pray for God’s sustaining presence to be revealed to those in need. And pray for each of our hearts to be open to the ways that God is calling us to live our faith by responding in tangible and helpful ways. Above all else, pray for God’s abundant grace that overcomes fear.
Give generously of your financial resources. Many congregations are collecting special offerings and building relief kits for UMCOR. Instructions for assembling health kits and flood buckets can be found on the conference website (www.umcsc.org), and completed kits can be delivered to locations in your district or to The United Methodist Center (4908 Colonial Drive, Columbia). To send financial contributions to the UMCOR Disaster Response fund, go to www.umcor.org and click the “donate” button.
To date, 365 flood buckets and more than 1,100 health kits have been delivered. These supplies are being sent to the UMCOR warehouse regularly for distribution in affected areas.
There are several upcoming opportunities to be trained as an Early Response Team volunteer. ERTs are deployed in the aftermath of a disaster to assist with the immediate needs of those affected. Mount Horeb UMC, Lexington, will host a training Friday, Oct. 6; Zion UMC, Anderson, will host a training Saturday, Oct. 7, and Covenant UMC, Greer, will host a training Oct. 21. Detailed registration information is available online at www.umcsc.org/home/emergency-response-team-training
Through your faithfulness, generosity and hands-on witness, we can make a difference.