Reflections of a Disaster Relief Worker

Disaster relief child care

This month in Mission Friends, we will learn about chaplaincy in disaster relief. Several years ago, I felt led to receive training in Disaster Relief Child Care through Alabama Baptist Disaster Relief, which is part of Southern Baptist Disaster Relief through the North American Mission Board. Though the Disaster Relief Child Care workers are not officially trained as Disaster Relief chaplains, I feel that we serve in a similar capacity to the children as we care for them and help them at the time of a disaster. I have been privileged to serve on Disaster Relief Child Care teams in a couple different places. One was a year following hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, and in northeast Alabama the week following the 2011 tornadoes. These are some of my reflections on serving in disaster relief.

  • People want to tell their story. Even the children want to tell someone about what happened to them. After the Alabama tornadoes, I heard school-age children say things like, “I don’t have a house any more,” and “Trees fell on our house and we had to climb over fallen trees to get to the road.” Disaster relief workers hear the stories of people who have experienced trauma. We can pray for disaster relief chaplains and other disaster relief workers as they listen to the stories.

  • Preschoolers may not have the words to be able to express their story. Our Disaster Relief team saw preschoolers play out what happened through building with blocks and caring for dolls in Homeliving. Pray for Disaster Relief Child Care workers as they provide opportunities for preschoolers to express themselves through play.

  • People become disoriented easily in the aftermath of a disaster. They have to make so many decisions and walk down a path they did not expect to have to take. Their minds and emotions are already overloaded, and something that seems small can cause anxiety. I recall being asked to help a gentleman fill out a form which he normally would have been fully capable of completing, but he needed someone to help him think through the answers about his property losses. Pray for Disaster Relief chaplains as they give assurance to those in need.

  • People’s hearts are opened when disaster relief workers help without expecting anything in return. Whether caring for children, serving on a chainsaw crew, preparing shower units, or praying with others as a Chaplain, Disaster Relief volunteers have opportunities to share Christ’s love with others. Pray that people would come to know Christ and His love through the work of those involved in Disaster Relief.

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