(pictured: Salem Lutheran, Houston)
The only good thing after natural disasters—next to the sun finally shining again, or the waters receding or the winds and earth calming—is to see the generosity of humans. Tragedy reminds us that we are all connected, in ways we wish we remembered always.
I recommend giving to these organizations to help after Hurricane Harvey:
Lutheran Disaster Response
I don’t recommend Lutheran agencies because I’m a Lutheran pastor. I have learned over the years that they are among the most efficient and respected agencies responding in these situations. A vital criteria is that relief agencies already have networks in place. They must already have contacts, already know the communities, already be on the ground. That way they know how to move goods, find information, and really help. Lutheran Disaster Response in the U.S. and Lutheran World Relief worldwide are known for this— and for the the percentage of donations for relief efforts that go to the people in need.
When I was in seminary, I remember a Methodist professor asking a room of Lutheran students what we were proud of - what made us proud to be Lutheran? And she suggested Lutheran relief efforts. She said that people all over the world knew and respected Lutheran relief agencies as actually connected and effective. And that we should know that and share that information about who we are as a body of believers - acting out our faith in a real way that really helps.
Later I was talking to a pastor from another denomination headed to New Orleans on a post-Katrina mission trip. He said, “We realized we had no idea what we were going to do once we got there. So we said, ‘Well, let’s just bring refreshments for the workers, and we’ll ask the Lutherans what to do when we get there - they’ll have it all organized.” We have a good reputation, and for good reason.
Lutheran Disaster Response promises that 100% of donations to Hurricane Harvey goes directly to relief for victims. They have response teams on the ground and ready. This will include Houston and other affected coastal communities. Upbring (formerly Lutheran Social Services of the South) is the largest provider of foster care in the state of Texas. Donations to them will go to helping foster families and children’s residential facilities in the affected areas.
May we give generously, to these or other agencies that you know already have response teams in the area who know the communities, and who have purchasing networks that can obtain and deliver what is most needed. Let us give humbly to those who will humbly serve on our behalf.
Thanks be to God for giving hearts, and for the knowledge that we are all one in Christ, and all made in God’s image.
P.S. It is tempting to want to give goods, but often buying water or giving away our own clothes is about making ourselves feel good: it is from a good place, this wanting to help, to physically pitch in. The truth is that giving cash is the most effective and most helpful thing we can do.