As the waters begin to recede in parts of Southern Louisiana, and the damage of this week's floods begins to be revealed, Week of Compassion continues to be in contact with Disciples in the Baton Rouge area. We will continue to provide support as clean-up begins and in long months of recovery ahead. The best way to help now is to give money - it is not glamorous, but cash can be turned quickly into buckets, soap, water, food, blankets, or gas and can help provide necessary resources for clean-up or repairs. If you are within a half-day's driving distance of the floods and interested in volunteering, you can contact VolunteerLouisiana.gov or First Christian Church of Baton Rouge. Please be aware that all volunteers will need to be prepared to arrange their own transportation, lodging, and meals; current housing is prioritized for evacuees and emergency personnel.
The Blue Cut Fire continues to burn outside of San Bernardino, CA. Thankfully, improved weather conditions have enabled firefighters to reach 22% containment as of Friday morning, and mandatory evacuations are beginning to lift. The extent of the damage is yet unknown. Week of Compassion will continue to monitor the situation and coordinate with the Pacific Southwest Region and local congregations to provide relief and support the future recovery.
We invite you to keep the people of Louisiana and California in your prayers. Given the severity of these disasters we encourage you to make a special gift to Week of Compassion to support relief and recovery. Below are resources for use in your worship community.
Lord, our God, Creator of the heavens and the earth,
We are painfully aware this morning of the power of your creation.
Water, so often our source of life, has been this week a force of destruction.
Fire, that symbol of your Spirit, has left miles of land scorched and bare.
We admit that today we find it difficult to believe the refrain of Genesis that "it is good," when thousands of our neighbors have fled from their homes.
Yet, we see goodness in the generosity of friends who open their doors to evacuees, in the tireless efforts of first responders and volunteers, in your church offering refuge and respite in the midst of the suffering. Make us to be the bearers of your life and renewal. Empower us by your Spirit to be present to the pain of our neighbors and to bring comfort and hope.
Talk honestly with children about the floods in Louisiana and the fires in California. Children understand that sometimes bad and scary things happen, so answer their questions as clearly as you can. Help them think through a list of the people, places, and practices that help keep them safe. Remind them that God is always with us, even when we are scared. Emphasize that we can help the people who have been affected by the floods and fires get what they need and find safe places to stay.
As images of the destruction in Louisiana and California continue to inundate the news and social media, limit your children's exposure. While you cannot completely shelter them from the news, you can limit the number of disturbing images they see.
A great resource is the book The Earth Shook: A Persian Tale by Donna Jo Napoli and Gabi Swiatkowska. This beautifully illustrated book tells the story of Parisa, a young girl who finds herself alone in her town after an earthquake. It is a story of resilience and choosing to help (or not) when others are in need.