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Disaster Recovery

One way you can outreach to and hurting people and be the hands and feet of Christ is to help people recover when disaster strikes.

How You Can Engage Your Community - Part 3

This blog continues the series on how churches, outreach teams and service ministries can impact their communities.

Disaster ResponseNow, let's look at another way a church can actively engage with, serve and love their community (as well as their congregations). Disasters can upend almost everything - family, home, job, way of life and more. Churches can help with response and/or rebuilding after a disaster. Isn't that practical?

And doesn't it offer a striking parallel to the gospel? We reach the point where our sin ravishes our lives, and we find ourselves desperately needing help outside of ourselves. As Jesus rescues repentant sinners from our self-inflicted disaster, perhaps your church can provide a representation of that to your community by responding to disasters. How might that change the cultures view of the Church and our Savior?

One nice thing about disaster response is that it probably won't require a regular time commitment (with a possible exception in long-term rebuilding projects). Your team can respond as need arises. In fact, starting a home repair team in your church might be a great way to prepare your volunteers for a disaster and even start your team. If you're looking for some resources on how to start a home repair team, we've got a no-cost ministry resource library. We hope that you'll check it out.

Rebuilding after a devastating tornado - Here's one example of how eight churches, Home Repairs Ministries and nonprofits/agencies responded and partnered together to help a Palestinian widow rebuild.

If you missed earlier posts in this series, you can see them here -

Part 1 - Repairs and Accessibility
Part 2 - Advocacy
Part 4 - Forming Partnerships



Categories: Disaster Recovery, Service, The Gospel Tags:

Disaster Recovery and Salvation - The Connection

Last year, I had the opportunity to attend a disaster simulation where newbies can get a taste and consider getting trained further. We experienced a hurricane in the a.m. and a tornado in the afternoon. What was new for me, having followed up both of those kinds of disasters, was being part of the second wave of responders that does assessments (we usually arrive during the relief phase, addressing what was already assessed) and finding injured actors from the tornado. When we found injured people in the woods, we would report by radio to the Georgia Army National Guard on site. HRM does this because ongoing home repair is complimentary to disaster response. We find that it is easier for churches to respond to a critical need if they have a home repair team organized.

This response has spiritual application because we’re usually helping people that 1) either don’t have insurance, or 2) need to cover up until insurance adjusters arrive. We are often their only option for help. God wants us to approach Him with the same attitude as those picking up from a disaster - broken, helpless and looking for a savior and helper. And God, being rich in love and mercy, responds not because we are entitled or have accomplished something, but always by His mercy and grace. In Him we find salvation and grace to endure the hardships of a fallen world. We pray that people will see God’s grace in our help and embrace eternal life in Jesus Christ.

Since the gospel has freed us and heaven is ahead let’s serve Him with all we’ve got and bring a little taste of heaven to earth!





Categories: Disaster Recovery, Evangelism Tags:

Is a Home Repair Team Right for Your Church?

A church's home repair team exists to serve it's own homeowners in need and as an outreach to your community. In both cases, we have found those most needing our services to typically be widows, single mothers, the elderly and disabled. If outreach is a priority for your church, a home repair ministry is an opportunity to share the gospel in Word and deed with these people.

If this sounds like a good idea, the next question becomes "is it right for us and can we do it?" Finding the answers will be helped by sharing what a home repair team is and what it is not.

1) A home repair team is typically not led by staff or leadership (at least, that's been our experience). A home repair team can be viewed as an opportunity to extend your congregation's involvement and outreach. In fact, the guys who run a home repair team can be the people in your church who aren't sure how and where to plug in and serve.

Find your handymen (and women), and the folks your leadership calls when you have a single mom with a repair need, and you've found your candidate to lead you local church's home repair team. We think that these guys exist in many churches.

2) A home repair team is scalable in scope. The size of your church should not be an impediment to starting a team. A simple home repair team can be two guys who help people out occasionally on weekends. In a larger church, or one with a lot of handymen, you can have several projects going on a month.

3) A home repair team does not have to raise a lot of money to fund projects. Your church can certainly choose to fund projects, but we try to either have the materials paid for by the homeowner (where feasible) or donated from local businesses or other non-profits.

Disaster Response4) A home repair ministry is a natural partner to a disaster response/recovery team. If your church participates in disaster recovery projects, a home repair ministry can help your team impact their community all throughout the year. More than likely you've already got the same types of skills on your team and are doing similar types of work. Instead of sending volunteers out a couple times a year, you can keep them busy every month, even weekly, if you have the people for it!

5) Starting a home repair ministry does require some forethought. Fortunately, our ministry and other churches have been through this before. In fact, we've been doing this for many years and learned a lot of good ideas and some not so good ones to avoid.

We've collected that information and made it available to churches at no charge on our website (you can make a suggested donation but it is not required). As we get more churches joining through our website, we desire to build a community that can share and learn with each other.

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Be Ready When Disaster Strikes

In June, 2012, we travelled to the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) General Assembly, in Louisville, Kentucky, to promote the ministry and network with church leaders. On the trip, we co-sponsored a mercy ministry project called “Sheds of Hope”, for Henryville, Indiana, 35 miles north of Louisville, to help those whose lives were turned upside-down by a tornado. When your house is terribly damaged or gone, you need a place to put your “stuff”. Sheds of Hope are inexpensive units that can be built on-site or constructed off-site and transported to a disaster area where most needed. And most importantly, they come with the hope-filled message of the Gospel.

MNA logoWe partnered with the PCA’s Mission to North America ministry. The often overwhelming needs of those caught in disaster/emergency situations provides the need for a partnership between MNA’s Disaster Response ministry and churches with home repairs/disaster response teams ready to deploy. Our ministry provides materials to help churches start those teams and help them begin serving the community. At the General Assembly, we shared with PCA leaders the benefits of starting their own church ministry teams, and gave them information to take back to interested people in their congregations. Starting such a team provides several things for a church:

  • A way for the church to serve its own widows and others who own homes and are not able to afford a contractor to make repairs or make the repairs themselves
  • A mechanism to respond to situations where people in the community are begging Christians to come to their homes to help (an opportunity for the church to offer temporal, as well as eternal, help as they “love their neighbor as themselves” in deed and Word)
  • An opportunity to engage handy men and women from their congregation who can find themselves somewhat marginalized, relative to church-based ministry, because they don’t sing in the choir, keep the nursery, or teach Sunday school
  • The opportunity for Christ-centered churches to serve together and represent Christ as one body to their communities
  • Connection and unity at a grassroots level for a denominations’ churches within a city or community as church teams join together for larger projects
  • The mechanism for churches to respond to disasters and be the love of Christ to the devastated, as they respond to calls for help from organizations such as MNA and others.

The Home Repairs Ministries website provides you the information you need to start or grow a team at your church.

So, who do you call on if you want to start a team? In conversations we have had with church leaders, the question we ask is, “Who is the person you would call when one of your widows needs something repaired?” That is potentially the person who needs to be challenged with engaging others, and if not him, he probably knows who might have such an interest. Two guys, a bag of tools, and an SUV can constitute a home repairs team. That’s a disaster response team that can grow as the Lord provides vision and skills.