Disasters must be faced with love

written by Cristina Amato

As Operation Mobilisation is working in more than 115 countries around the globe, the organisation is also involved in disaster response efforts among affected communities.

The leaders of OM’s International Disaster Response Team have come to Logos Hope for six weeks to train crewmembers in teaching sessions and practical workshops. Following the motto ‘Plan ahead – it wasn’t raining when Noah built the Ark’, the husband-and-wife team desires to raise awareness and ensure that the ship’s community gets prepared and will not be overwhelmed if they find themselves in disaster areas.

Ruth Lopez (Guatemala) says, “It was interesting to hear that there are different ways to respond to different disasters. For example, after a war, people need physical and mental help that is different to what people who survive an earthquake may need. Help doesn’t always look the same.”

The crew learnt that aid is never neutral and can imply power from those who provide it. “This power can be abused, intentionally or unintentionally. We as Christians should be driven by love in providing help, and commit not to use it to pressure someone to accept what we believe in. We offer opportunities for people to decide for themselves and empower them to make a choice,” say the instructors.

One trainer shares: “Relief work that is pleasing to God is motivated by Christlike compassion. Being involved in disaster response is obeying God’s command to love our neighbours and to follow the principles of servant-hearted relief, which includes a prayerful attitude, a humble willingness to do whatever is needed for as long as it takes to support and at the local pace of life.

“It is important for us to move beyond thinking ‘What can I do?’ to ‘What capacities can I contribute to?’”, the leader says. OM seeks to convey that “good relief work aims to ensure that people are restored back to their full potential and are able to care for themselves again. It is not simply a hand-out.”

One crewmember felt helpless before she went to the disaster response training; thinking that one person on their own won’t have enough impact. She reflects, “The training made me realise that the help that is needed is not a big one-off initiative but many little things, as it's an ongoing process. Now I think that of course I can be a part of disaster relief, because there is always a suitable task for someone who is really willing to help.”

Bahamas: Abaco Islands, The Bahamas :: A disaster response workshop on board Logos Hope.