It has been rightly said that there is a mission field right outside the church building doors. There are foreign mission works, prison mission points, domestic mission efforts, and many more. Crisis Evangelism is a unique mission field in that the location and duration is always changing. There is a real need for someone to assist local congregations in the work of teaching the Gospel in the aftermath of large-scale disasters. Crisis Evangelism is an effort to help local congregations to share the Gospel by providing tools and people for the work. Many good brethren rightly focus on the need to supply what has been lost in a disaster. Crisis Evangelism seeks to use both the disaster itself, and the godly response of the local congregation, to supply what was not formerly possessed: Salvation!
During the chaotic time following a tornado, flood, or other disaster, people become more aware of their own mortality and how swiftly life can change. Even if they are not victims of the disaster themselves, seeing the difficulties and struggles of others can cause them to consider their own lives. Hearts are softened not just by the devastation, but by the kindness and compassion shown by Christians. This creates a window of opportunity to share the good news of Jesus Christ. The disaster will be overcome, things will return to normal, houses and lives will be rebuilt. As the church, we should see this as a great opportunity to create a new normal for those affected by these events, one that includes Jesus Christ as their Savior.
In the wake of any kind of disaster, there are always those who want to help, particularly New Testament Christians. Every member of the Lord’s church has witnessed the great outpouring of financial and physical help in the wake of a disaster. It seems that Christians always want to respond as quickly as they possibly can to the great loss that others have suffered, and this is to their eternal credit. The Scriptures reveal to us that this is the will of God. James 2:15-17 (NKJV) tells us “If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,’ but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” Not only are we charged with helping our brothers and sisters, but we are to aid those outside the body of Christ as well. Galatians 6:10 (NKJV) instructs, “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.”
The Lord’s Church has a long history of helping those outside of Christ. For example, the church’s response to the famine predicted by Agabus helped many others and brought glory to God. 2 Corinthians 9:12-13 (NKJV) tells us, “For the administration of this service not only supplies the needs of the saints, but also is abounding through many thanksgivings to God, while, through the proof of this ministry, they glorify God for the obedience of your confession to the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal sharing with them and all men.” God was glorified through the kindness and benevolence of the church!
While benevolence is, in and of itself, a work of the church, it is also useful to the declaration of the Gospel. Many times, those who were formerly enemies of Christ change their mind due to the conduct of Christians. Peter writes in 1 Peter 3:15-16 (NKJV), “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed.” People may believe what someone says, but there is more proof in what a person actually does!
The outstanding relief work of brethren, both benevolent and physical, should be followed up with an explanation of why that help happened – because of Jesus. We are commanded by the Savior to love all, even those who persecute and hate us. The Sermon on the Mount is a world-winning strategy for the cause of Christ!
If we help to restore the homes and possessions of disaster victims, but fail to share the Gospel, there is a greater, eternal calamity that will come upon them. We must pre-empt that calamity with the only preventive that there is, obedience to the Gospel of Christ! The mission of Jesus to seek and save the lost continues today, and the work of Crisis Evangelism is just a small part of that noble goal. Please pray for this work, spread the news about it, and help us find supporters and co-workers!