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01.01.1970 01:0000    Comments: 0    Categories: You Asked (Text Files)      Tags:

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Dr. Smith,

 I am planning to attend a disaster relief training provided by Illinois Baptist State Association and anticipate being able to apply Theophostic principles when volunteering with the NAMB disaster relief effort. I know all the basics would apply as well as all the information in the new manual regarding truth-based pain. However, I thought maybe you would have some additional comments regarding situations such as this.


Ed Smith's response:


Almost two years ago I bought a home in Florida (before all the major hurricanes hit). However, shortly after closing on my house we encountered "Charlie" and then just this past week we have had the chance to meet "Wilma." We were blessed to sustain only minimal damage to our property from both storms, but we were surrounded by others that were not so fortunate. It has been heart wrenching to see so many homes with great damage and people's lives disrupted. There is great need here but also in the other Gulf coast states hit hard by Katrina and other storms.


I do not know why it is but it seems that many of us have short-term memories where it comes to natural disasters. When the crisis is occurring each of us are emotionally torn by the news coverage that fills our living rooms, but as time passes we tend to go on with our lives. How many of us have given much thought lately about the devastating tsunami of last year that took so many lives. I know that we do not mean to move on and forget so quickly, but those people are still in need and still devastated. I would like us to consider what we can do to provide ongoing support to those who have yet to recover. I am sure that many of you did as Sharon and I and sent funds to different organizations that where on the front lines offering aid. This was a good and an obvious thing to do. Some of you went beyond this and traveled down to the places of devastation and actually physically touched the hearts and lives of those in crisis. I am very proud of all of you that did this. However, as the storms have past it is easy to let our minds be recaptured by what is going on in our own lives and lose track of the ongoing relief that is needed.


Here are some thoughts and suggestions that you may want to consider


 1. You may want to contact agencies that you know and trust that are still proving support to areas of devastation and see what they needs currently have. I am sure that money is always welcomed. However, knowing specifically what is needed makes it easier to let go of some of our resources.

 2. Consider offering your time to do specific ministry to people who are suffering emotionally and physically from the aftermath. It usually takes a few months before the full reality sets in for people. You might consider contacting local Christian organizations in the areas worse hit to see if there is any opportunity for you to offer support. Theophostic Prayer Ministry can be very beneficial for these people once the denial clears and they are willing to embrace the pain that has surfaced. Consider connecting with other helping ministries that are doing approaches to ministry other than TPM. We are members of the same body and should work as a team. I have heard of several people who volunteered during the relief effort working in food lines, shelters and such and then having numerous opportunities to share the Lord and do TPM.

 3. If you personally encounter a person suffering emotionally from the aftermath of the hurricanes be slow in offering unsolicited advice or pat answers. Accept the fact that you really do not have an adequate answer to give these people. What they need more than our pat answers is compassion and empathy and the awareness of a present Christ who loves them and has not forsaken them. Like Jobs friend who set in silence with him we need to simply "weep with those who weep." Just like working with any person in a ministry setting, we first need to give attention to the presenting need before doing memory work.

 4. Allow for a time of grief. Grief is a natural process with predictable stages. However, TPM can be administered all along the way but should be done so with gentleness and care. If your loved one had been killed, your property destroyed and all you owned taken from you, this would feel real bad. We must allow people to feel whatever they feel for as long as they need to. At the same time we know that a measure of the duress is usually historically rooted in what we feel in the present and needs truth from the Lord. Just be slow in this process and allow the person to move at his or her own pace.

 5. Even though much of the emotional duress is directly related to the present situation, it is still appropriate to seek to connect the person with the presence of Christ immediately. Even though people are experiencing genuine grief and loss the Lord is near. Encourage the person to be still and listen to what the Lord desires of them in the moment. When my daughter died some years ago now, I recall the comfort I felt as I connected to the presence of Christ in my time of genuine sorrow. It would be appropriate if you have the opportunity to set next to a person in crisis, to simply encourage them to be still and listen. It is amazing what happens when people get quiet and listen. You might just pray, "Lord Jesus, what do you want Mary to know in this moment of loss?"

 6. Some of you are members of Churches that have TPM teams. You might consider connecting with other churches in the devastation areas and traveling down as a group to offer your support. It may be that you can connect by way of the membership directory on the IATM web site (www.tpassociation.com). If you are in one of the areas hit by the storms and would like to be contacted by those willing to offer help, contact our office. We will try to let it be known what your need is and how others can help. For example, if you have a church ministry or counseling center and would like people who are doing TPM (by the book and following the guidelines) to come and help out in your area let us know and I will send out an email with your contact information.

 7. Continue to pray for the people who are still struggling in various ways as a result of the crisis they have had to endure. There are many people here in Florida that still doesn't have roofs replace from the storms from a year ago. Right now many do not yet have power as a result of Wilma's wrath. These people need our prayers. I am praying each day as I go here and there asking the Lord what He desire of me to do. Sometimes the first place to start is simply to listen.


In Christ,


Ed smith

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