The humanitarian aspect of my missionary work has taken me around the world in relief projects associated with every kind of natural disaster short of a volcano eruption. I’ve seen firsthand what the insurance companies refer to as the “acts of God” – a legal term used throughout the English-speaking world to speak of natural hazards outside human control, for which no individual person or government can be held responsible.
I was part of a relief team in Nicaragua after the landfall of Hurricane Mitch, the second-deadliest Atlantic hurricane on record. The team arrived by ship but were unable to dock in the harbor because the waterfront was blocked by ships that had been sunk during the storm. As we distributed food and supplies to the churches, I was amazed to find that at least one church was actively collecting donations to fill shoeboxes for the Samaritan’s Purse Christmas project. What a demonstration of the love of God – the Nicaraguan believers were actively helping others in the midst of their own need!
I also had the opportunity to visit the southern coast of India and the island nation of Sri Lanka just weeks after the deadly tsunami of December 26, 2004. As we drove for hours, covering hundreds of miles, we found no relief from the devastation. There was seemingly endless destruction and rubble. No matter how far we drove, the landscape remained the same – heaps of debris and splintered remains of what was once the homes of the people whose lives had come to tragic ends in a split second. I was on the battlefield of nature versus mankind, and – from all I could see – the brutality of nature had vanquished. This overwhelming scene of destruction left an indelible mark on my memory, but it also began to drive me on a quest to understand the implications of the biblical proclamation, “When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him.” (Isaiah 59:19) [Read more…]