To make a donation go to: abhms.org/ministry-opportunities/give-now-online/
Victoria Goff, American Baptist Home Mission Societies (ABHMS) national coordinator, Disaster-response Ministries, answers questions about giving to the Hurricane Harvey Relief effort through One Great Hour of Sharing. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Q: People want desperately to help those affected by Harvey’s devastation. What can we do today?
A: At this time, you can help in four primary ways:
- PRAY for those across the Gulf Coast in Hurricane Harvey’s path.
- GIVE to One Great Hour of Sharing. One hundred percent of gifts designated “Hurricane Harvey Relief” go to the relief and rehabilitation of those affected. Give through your local church or online at abhms.org > Give Now.
- DONATE hygiene kits and emergency cleanup buckets, which are distributed by Church World Service. Find details about these kits and how to contribute them at http://cwskits.org.
- PLAN TO GO to the Gulf Coast in future weeks or months. The present need is for first responders and people with specialized training—doctors, nurses and search-and-rescue professionals. Teams that assist with the rebuilding must wait until the rains cease and systems are in place. This time will come, but it’s not in the first weeks after a disaster of this magnitude. Contact Victoria Goff at firstname.lastname@example.org for information about volunteering for future mission trips to the region.
A: Disaster response is a long process, depending on the disaster, and often spans many years. ABHMS continues to lead volunteer mission trips to New Orleans’ Lower 9th Ward—12 years after hurricanes Katrina and Rita destroyed the area. With that in mind, thought must be given to the long-term needs of the affected areas and how those needs will be addressed. The initial release of funds will go to our national and local partners in the area who are providing immediate assistance. Once the rebuilding phase begins, funds will be used to help rebuild, restore and renew homes, churches, communities and lives. ABHMS will collaborate in this effort with local partners on the ground.
Q: How much will be needed?
A: It’s impossible to know right now how much is needed, but I can say that the scope of this disaster can be compared to that of Superstorm Sandy and Hurricane Katrina. American Baptists gave nearly $4 million to those two relief efforts. That’s incredible! It’s my prayer that, even in these economically difficult times for us here in the United States and Puerto Rico, the response will be as generous.
Q: How do you get a handle on the needs when they are this great?
A: Once the rain stops, the situation will become more manageable with each passing day. Again, once the rains cease, we will work with our national and local partners on the ground to gather assessments and identify where we, as American Baptists, can and will assist. We will also send ABHMS representatives into affected areas in the coming weeks to assist partners in completing both mid- and long-term assessments so that we can channel funds toward meeting the greatest needs.
Q: ABHMS has released $10,000 so far. How quickly will donations flow to Houston and the affected areas?
A: We released the initial $10,000 in response to requests from our partners. Gifts already received will enable us to respond to requests as they are received during the coming weeks. As churches receive offerings and send their funds, we will continue to provide both short- and long-term assistance.
Q: What is the unique role of the church in a crisis such as this one?
A: In the aftermath of any natural disaster, the church—including American Baptist Churches USA—plays a unique role. And that’s to look at immediate needs, with an eye to the future as well. The church walks with those affected over the long term. ABHMS gives testimony to that every year when we lead mission trips to New Orleans. We are still there—12 years after Katrina—walking side by side with those affected, and we will be there until the work is done. That’s how we bring God’s healing presence to those whose lives are torn apart by disasters’ devastation. And we will be there for the people of Houston and others across the Gulf Coast, as they rebuild in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, until that work is done.