Monday, November 18, 2013

4 Lessons Learned From Natural Disasters

In light of Typhoon Haiyan passing through the Philippines, I want to share a few things I have learned from being involved with recovery efforts following natural disasters. Now, let me give a couple of disclaimers. First, I am not the authority but I have been involved in varying degrees of involvement following Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy and the earthquake in Haiti.  Second, not everything that is true following one disaster or in a particular country will always be true. Nevertheless, let me offer some thoughts.

  1. Spiritual leaders will carry a heavy burden. My experience in non-western cultures is that spiritual leaders such as pastors are depended on for much more than the spiritual. The demands on pastors and missionaries will only become greater following a disaster.

  1. Communities will take their cue from churches. When everything is destroyed, people wonder if they should rebuild or move somewhere else. Will my friends and family stay or will they go? When churches rebuild, communities stay.

  1. Give to small, directly connected organizations.  In the aftermath of a natural disaster, organizations like The Red Cross will raise millions of dollars more than what can actually be spent on the immediate needs following a disaster. Giving to a small, locally connected organization such as a missions organization with missionaries in the country will improve the chance of your dollars directly impacting the rebuilding of a home or life rather than fostering foreign dependency. Click here to give.

  1. It’s more important to do something later than now. The Philippines is getting lots of attention now but it will fade from the news. Plan to raise money or do something to help in 6 months when many people have stopped giving and helping.

I’m sure there is more that can be said, but I hope this will help you respond in prayer and generosity. Post comments on lessons learned or observations you have made!

Questions for the author? Need coaching or consulting? You can contact Tory at 520-404-0841 or

1 comment:

  1. Great thought Tory and I would agree with all of them from my experiences also! As a church, we are excited to be sending a team and resources to the Philippines at the end of February, nearly four months after the tragedy, but I know the needs are still huge, even though it has faded from the news. Thanks for the encouragement. A good reminder for me to make sure I'm investing in our host, who has been bearing the burden since the storm.