After Hurricane Harvey ravaged Texas last month, the nation saw unprecedented rescue and relief aid from individuals and organizations nationwide. Now that some time has passed from the initial response efforts, some have taken a closer look at the sources of the efforts. The findings have been a surprise that even mainstream media couldn’t refrain from reporting.
FEMA administrator Brock Long even called on citizens to send their donations to National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NVOAD), who was working in conjunction with FEMA to distribute disaster relief aid. NVOAD is an alliance of nonprofit organizations, of which 75 percent are faith-based. NVOAD CEO Greg Forrester stated that “About 80 percent of all recovery happens because of non-profits, and the majority of them are faith-based.”
Nonprofit Christian organizations have been the most prominent source of relief aid, far surpassing that of government assistance — that certainly appears to be the case considering recent relief efforts.
Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian disaster relief organization led by Reverend Franklin Graham, held relief operations in Houston, Texas, as well as in Florida following Hurricane Irma. The organization also sent relief aid to islands in the Caribbean. “We’re there and we’re going to be there until the need is gone,” Graham said. The group has aided 20 disasters this year alone.
Several other religious groups have also proved to have tremendous roles in the relief efforts. The Seventh Day Adventists specialize in organizing, storing and distributing supplies for disaster victims in a cooperative effort with government agencies. The United Methodist Committee specializes in coordinating on the ground cleanup efforts, delegating approximately 20,000 trained volunteers for everything from cleaning up flooded homes to helping affected families secure assistance and insurance relief. The Convoy of Hope is yet another Christian organization who specializes in feeding disaster victims and relief workers, often working with FEMA and utilizing their supplies.
Those who espouse big government ideology would believe that the overwhelming response efforts are attributed to government action, but that isn’t the case. Citizens — especially Christians — are compelled to contribute on such a scale that it shadows government efforts.
According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics, “households that contribute to religious organizations tend to give more, both in dollars per donation and in percentage of income donated. In both cases, households that give to religious organizations donate about twice as much as households that give to secular organizations.”
After all, innate human generosity and empathy have existed much longer than government.
The United States is one of the most charitable countries in the world. It’s no coincidence that more than 70 percent of the population identifies as Christian. Religion is a tremendous influence in donations and volunteerism. Christians, in particular, are called by God to donate to those in times of need, and numerous instances in the Bible reiterate that.
Leviticus 25:35–36 notes, “If your brother becomes poor and cannot maintain himself with you, you shall support him as though he were a stranger and a sojourner, and he shall live with you. Take no interest from him or profit …” Deuteronomy 15:7–8 further calls on Christians to open their hand to the poor, and “… lend him sufficient for his need, whatever it may be.”
Several verses — such as Psalm 41:1–3, Proverbs 11:24–25, and Matthew 10:42, to name a few– promise blessings and repayment from the Lord for offering generosity to those in need.
Christians are called to emulate Christ in all that they do — not just in words — as 1 John 3:16–18 details. “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.”
Considering the Word that Christians follow, it only makes sense that they would be the most generous group in the wake of disasters so close to home. It begs the question: how much worse would the disaster have been without Christianity?
While some in the nation continue to criticize Christianity and even censor Christian words and symbols in the name of political correctness, the good deeds and generosity of Christians persevere in spite of it all. God certainly didn’t stipulate exceptions in being a generous and good person.