Christians and the church often get a bad rap for hypocrisy and failing to practice what they preach.
But when it comes to disaster relief efforts in the past few weeks for Hurricane Harvey and Irma, the body of Christ has shown the world what it looks like to serve the needy and follow in the footsteps of Jesus.
Statistics show that faith-based based organizations, particularly Christian nonprofits, have surpassed FEMA in their financial and hands-on support for victims.
In fact, faith-based groups have reportedly accounted for a whopping 80 percent of the aid, according to USA Today.
“Several individual organizations have aided in the relief operations in major ways,” says Greg Forrester, CEO of NVOAD (National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster). The Daily Caller points out a handful of these specific groups that have helped significantly in conjunction with FEMA, the federal agency assigned to aid in the recovery and rebuilding process:
“Samaritan’s Purse, an evangelical disaster relief group led by evangelist Franklin Graham, recently began a relief mission to the Caribbean to help victims of the hurricanes on various islands. Samaritan’s Purse also has ongoing relief operations in Houston and is preparing to aid Florida in the aftermath of Irma…
The United Methodist Committee on Relief, which has 20,000 volunteers trained to serve in disaster response teams, not only helps clean up the mess and repair the damage inflicted on homes by disasters, but also helps families with the process of applying for and receiving aid from various government relief programs.
The Seventh Day Adventists help state governments with warehousing various goods and necessities to aid communities in the aftermath of a disaster.”
Non-denominational Christian relief organizations like Convoy of Hope have also jumped into action by providing feeding stations in communities devastated by the hurricanes.
“The services that faith-based relief groups have rendered to ravaged communities has not only helped the families and individuals affected by the storms, but has also translated into billions of dollars worth of aid for the states in general” reports the Daily Caller, adding that the states are required to pay back and match the financial aid FEMA provides.
“FEMA can not do what it does so well without the cooperation of faith-based nonprofit organizations and churches,” claims Rev. Jamie Johnson, director of the Department of Homeland Security’s Center for Faith-Based & Neighborhood Partnerships. “It’s a beautiful relationship between government and the private sector and it is something to behold.”
Social scientist and president of the American Enterprise Institute, Arthur Brooks, complements the Reverend’s sentiments with hard facts based on years of studying charitable giving patterns in the United States:
“Religious people are far more charitable than nonreligious people. In years of research, I have never found a measurable way in which secularists are more charitable than religious people.”
In an era marked by increasing social discord, it’s awe-inspiring to witness believers come together and be the hands and feet of Jesus for these victims, for it is only His love that blurs the divisive boundaries of race, religion, and status… and in the words of Rev. Johnson, that certainly is “something to behold.”
If you are interested in contributing to these efforts, Charity Navigator has compiled a list of highly-rated organizations responding in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.