This year’s hurricane season is officially over at the end of the month, but Foursquare ministry efforts in the wake of an unprecedented string of storms will continue long after such tempests are no longer a threat.
From serving 14,000 meals to some of those displaced, to distributing food and water and helping rebuild damaged homes, local churches have been reaching out with practical help to some of the victims of Harvey, Irma and Maria, while also offering emotional and spiritual care.
Among the ongoing efforts are construction crews helping salvage flooded homes in Texas, where $1,200 “starter packs” of sheetrock and other materials are being provided to almost 100 families with no insurance to help them, and food and water filtration unit distribution in Puerto Rico.
Though the triple wave of disasters stretched Foursquare Disaster Relief (FDR)—along with government and non-governmental agencies—it also spotlighted the way the ministry has become recognized as a key player in maximizing Foursquare ministry opportunities that come with crises.
Partnering with district offices and local churches, FDR helped raise emergency funds, and recruit and coordinate relief teams—more than 20 have mobilized so far in Texas alone, with others to follow there and in Puerto Rico once conditions allow. The ministry also has provided training to equip churches to meet long-term emotional needs in their communities, and has sent accredited chaplains to work in churches and relief centers.
“It was amazing to watch how … our brothers and sisters all over the world came together to make sure that people experienced physical, emotional and spiritual care.”
—Jayson Reynolds, U.S. director for FDR
Now FDR is planning a series of district-level training events next year to ensure that more Foursquare churches are equipped ahead of time to swing into action when bad things happen.
“The response from the Foursquare family was phenomenal,” says Jason Reynolds, FDR’s U.S. director, noting that the global response included financial support from Foursquare churches in Hong Kong and India. “It was amazing to watch how that happened, as our brothers and sisters all over the world came together to make sure that people experienced physical, emotional and spiritual care.”
That outpouring “helped transform lives,” he continues. “Hundreds of people came to Christ as a result, and it couldn’t have happened without the physical resources, donations and people who were willing to go and help.”
Overseeing FDR’s post-Maria response as international response director, Chad Isenhart echoes Jason’s gratitude. “We have seen an incredible response,” he affirms, noting that financial support came from Foursquare churches in Mexico and Jamaica.
“It has been a stretching season, but it has highlighted the unique Foursquare response we can make—working through the local churches in the area.”
—Chad Isenhart, international response director for FDR
Domestically, some churches and districts immediately initiated their own fundraising efforts to help. Meanwhile, members of two Seattle, Wash.-area churches also played a role in a communitywide effort to send a container of relief supplies, with a second provided by CitiIMPACT, a crisis relief group based in Davidson, N.C.
“It has been a stretching season, but it has highlighted the unique Foursquare response we can make—working through the local churches in the area,” Chad adds. “When something happens, you have people already there who speak the language, who know the culture and the people. It means that, as Foursquare, we are able to leverage and multiply ourselves, helping equip the local church to be Jesus to people in their time of need.”
Pre-planning made it possible to position water filters and food in Haiti ahead of Harvey’s arrival there, Chad notes. Foursquare members there used some of those resources to help others in the surrounding community. Meanwhile, an assessment team is due to visit Cuba soon to see what assistance might be offered there.
The scale of the need generated by the succession of storms emphasizes the importance of prayer in Foursquare’s response, asserts Chad. “It’s simply not possible to meet all the needs, so it’s essential we pray for discernment and God’s leading in knowing what to do.”
With one disaster followed by another, it’s easy to lose sight of the long-term impact on communities once the initial crisis has passed, but the needs, and the open doors for the gospel, will continue for a long time yet, Jason emphasizes. By way of example, he notes that in Texas, several weeks after Harvey came through, Foursquare teams had met some people still living in their cars because their homes were uninhabitable.
To donate to FDR or inquire about being part of a short-term team or emergency response training, click the link below.