Column: Students responding to disasters

 Audrey Branham

Assistant Faith Editor

2020 and peace don’t quite go together, and in this way, this is not a unique time. 

It is very seldom that the world has truly had peace at any one time. 

This life and world will always have people in crises, but what greater opportunity is there than to extend the loving hand of Christ to people in need? 

Several painful and hard situations are occurring right now, and within them all are real people crying out for support and help. 

Hurricane Laura has devastated the South-West and Northern parts of Louisiana. 

Wildfires rage all over the West, throughout California as well as in Oregon, Washington and Idaho. 

Throughout the country and across the globe, the Coronavirus pandemic continues to overwhelm hospitals and affect livelihoods. 

There are two natural responses when seeing others in crisis: either run away from the crisis or run toward the people that are being affected.

Let me encourage you as a student, a citizen and a Christian to run toward people in crises.

“How can I help?” 

The first step is to familiarize yourself with what is going on. 

Stay updated from news sources such as the BBC, The Washington Post, or USA Today and if possible local newspapers and newscasts. 

Education on any kind of crisis is crucial to making a positive difference, be it a natural disaster, a cultural event or a need in your community.

Uneducated voices without ears do not solve problems or make differences, but people who care for others and take time to educate themselves do. 

Secondly, make yourself available to relief efforts and support systems. Monetary support is always appreciated and can make a big difference to people who have lost their homes or have been injured. 

Supporting a legitimate and effective relief effort can be challenging, because it’s sometimes hard to know which ones are real. 

Search engines such as “Charity Navigator” and “GuideStar” are sources which show effectiveness and efficiency ratings for charities of any kind of outreach. 

While monetary support is valuable, physical charity work, which is any form of outreach that helps people physically, emotionally and/or spiritually, has the most impact on communities and individuals. 

When a community is in need, physically talk with fellow citizens and help them with their goals. 

Simply offering a friendly ear to hurt people can start them on their way to healing. 

Lastly, praying for change and for salvation for your community is not speaking words into air, and it is not a waste of time. 

If one is loved by the Lord of the Universe and has him on speed-dial, then asking his involvement in healing communities is the most efficient way to make a positive impact. 

It is important as America citizens, and especially as Christians, to foster a mindset and habit of outreach and charity. 

While the pandemic and distance might restrict you from serving people of hurting communities in Louisiana or California, those are not the only places in need of outreach. 

Every community needs outreach, because communities are made up of people, and people need help, support and love. 

Look into the needs of your community and make it a point to leave a lasting impact. 

Look into supporting relief efforts for Hurricane Laura, the California Wildfires, and the pandemic. 

I would encourage you to educate yourself on dire situations going on throughout your community, country, and world and to allow yourself the honor of changing others’ lives through offering support and outreach.

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