Friday, September 02, 2005

two cents' worth

Reading about the hurricane and devastation in the South, I feel powerless - me in the U.P., some thousand miles away, living with my four little children. Even if we tried to drive our gas-guzzling minivan down to Mississippi to "do" something, we would all be more in-the-way than helpful. All I can send is money, and not even a lot of that, given the huge need.

I understand the value of large mission/rescue agencies like the Red Cross doing relief work with Katrina's refugees. They are necessary and helpful. But I feel powerless giving them my measly contribution - I want to help in a more personal way, a way where the small amount makes a noticeable difference.

I'm not sure that's a scriptural need of mine. Jesus said that the two cents' worth the widow dropped in the temple treasury was a bigger contribution than the fortunes the rich donors were impressing each other with.

Nonetheless, I want to send my money to needy people, not to big umbrella help organizations. And here is one case where I can - as opposed to sending help most places overseas (like Iraq or Romania) where do I care, but don't have any personal connections.

Daniel works under the same umbrella organization as some Christian camps in the south who are housing refugees. Were our situation reversed, I could imagine our favorite nearby camp doing the same thing: cancelling reservations, ordering food, washing linens, loaning clothing, moving beds, preparing meals, making connections, working overtime - this time for no pay, for now-homeless refugees of the hurricane - trying to re-establish some sense of family and security for their new "campers".

I don't know any of the people at these camps, but I can imagine what it would be like administratively and personally. (still can't imagine what it would be like for the refugees themselves, though! wow.)

In our regular email we got updates on what some of the local camps are doing. Since our agency also posted it on their website, I feel like I can re-post the information below, to my small group of readers in case any of you are interested in helping. I know of one person who is going to use one of these camps as a network to try to "adopt" a family that has nothing and is willing to re-locate to her neck of the woods (Ohio) - to house them and help them find jobs.

You could, of course, also make your own "local connections" - maybe there are churches in your denomination nearby, or members of whatever organizations you're a part of, that are closer and could use some help and prayer.

This is what we learned from our umbrella organization:

Acadian Baptist Center (Eunice, La.) is housing 200 evacuees. Staff members are desperate for donations of food or money.

Acadian Baptist Center
1202 Academy Dr
Eunice, LA 70535
jnewsomabc at aol dot com

Camp of the Rising Son (French Camp, Miss.) is filling up with refugees. One family that just arrived reported that they swam from rooftop to rooftop to reach safety. They showed up at the camp in a borrowed car with only the clothes on their backs.

Camp Of The Rising Son
100 Lake Rd
French Camp Mississippi 39745
(662) 547-6169
crs at frenchcamp dot org

Camp Garaywa (Clinton, Miss.) is housing disaster relief workers even though they have no power. Fortunately, their freezer is on a generator.
312 Camp Garaywa Rd.
Clinton Mississippi 39056-5406
garaywa at mbcb dot org

And I'm sure hoping one of these camps would like a big box of used clothing, because our local thrift shop always has more donations at the end of the summer than they know what to do with. It would be great if our surplus could meet a real need, not just sit in someone else's closet for awhile.

And I'm also remembering the reason the widow's contribution was worth more than the rich people's - because she gave all she had to live on. Not just the $20 that she won't be missing anyway, not just the used clothes that it would be good to shovel out of the closet anyway. And not because she gave to the "right" organization, but because she gave with the right spirit. Giving sacrificially is something that, as a rich American, I haven't really "had to" learn yet. But I would like to learn these lessons before I need to learn them.

And I'm remembering what an older, wiser person always said in response to someone saying "all we can do is pray": He said, with a twinkle in his eye, "has it come to that, then?" He knew firsthand the power of prayer - or rather, the power of God in response to our prayers.

That's another lesson I would do well to learn better. Being powerless is good if it makes me truly seek God and rely on him to meet the needs of these people affected by Katrina - each one of whom God knows by name. I really can't ask for a more personal "connection" than that, whether in the South or overseas.


Blogger Karin said...

Thanks for the thoughts and info kel. I'm having a hard time, wanting to blog about it and...not wanting to be too angry in my blogging.

9/03/2005 12:29 PM  
Anonymous Jon said...

Yet another must-read from Kelly. Thanks for the timely wisdom.

9/12/2005 7:50 AM  

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