Updated January 11, 2016
"How is Watermark responding to the latest crisis?” is a question we get on a regular basis. Whether it is a refugee crisis in Syria, an earthquake on the other side of the world, or tornadoes in our own backyard, our body feels compelled to respond. As Christ-followers that response is natural, as we’ve been called to be “the hands and feet of Christ” and “the light of the world.”
After this week's fatal swarm of tornadoes in Garland and surrounding cities, we wanted to provide some great ministries worth partnering with. We also discuss the best ways to help after a disaster like this - including looking at the issue of online "crowdsourced" help.
What about Going?
We always get inquiries from well-meaning folks who feel a sense of calling to go into disaster areas, whether near or far. In some cases – like a tornado strike locally – that might make sense... but only if the individual has unique skills and/or supplies that are needed immediately. Otherwise, "warm bodies," if not being directed by a knowledgeable organization, can create more havoc in the midst of a hard situation.
For most of us, the skills and provisions we might bring “in the moment” are better used in the months after the initial relief effort (and after the news cameras leave). Connecting with local churches and other organizations that know the real - and ongoing - needs is therefore key, as is being flexible and patient in your help being used.
Key One: Relationship
First, we always want to ask ourselves what relationships God has already provided. If you have a relational connection to someone who was impacted by the weather this week, be sure to make an effort to help them. Connected with known and trusted churches in the area can also help with this effort.
As always, Watermark families and individuals affected by this disaster will be directed to their own community group first for financial help, and after that to our Charis Ministry. This ensures, once again, that giving always happens in the context of relationship.
Be especially careful about the many "crowdsourced" funding opportunities available online, set up to help individual families. While these sites offer an easy way to feel like we're helping, giving without relationship or safeguards is not wise stewardship. Remember that homeowners insurance generally provides emergency assistance and immediate relief for the families that have been affected. Instead of giving to a cause you're unfamiliar with, your resources can help those who need it most by following the second key.
Key Two: Funds to Trusted Organizations
Honestly, what is often needed more than untrained help is monetary donations through a trusted organization. They're able to use these funds to provide whatever is needed most.
But as you see the need in Garland (or the next place that experiences a disaster), investigate before you give. We've been called by God to be good stewards of the resources He provides us, even as we maintain our compassion. We provide great opportunities below, and you can also give directly to Watermark's Disaster Relief fund at watermark.org/disasterrelief.
Direct Opportunities to Help
Here are trusted outlets for you to respond to the Garland area tornadoes with your time, talents, or "treasures":
- Volunteer opportunities the weekends of Jan. 9 and Jan. 16 through Collin County Baptist Association (call 806-787-2695 or email firstname.lastname@example.org; updates available here)
- Watermark's Disaster Relief Fund (watermark.org/disasterrelief)
- Texas Baptist Men (start here)
- Samaritan's Purse (start here)
We would also remind you that for every relief effort that is in the headlines today, there are numerous recovery and development efforts going on around the world that Watermark is actively engaged in helping. To join us in those efforts, go to watermark.org/impact and join us!