The most recent reminder of how fragile life can be came to us yesterday. An 8.9 magnitude earthquake, one of the largest ever recorded, struck northern Japan causing widespread destruction of building, bridges, roads, and airports. Tsunami waves resulted in massive damage and a loss of life that is, at this point, still growing. The effects of such waves could be felt as far away as Alaska, Hawaii, and California. As the day went on, more and more information and video began to come out of Japan documenting the devastation. The events of yesterday refreshed our memories to previous disasters. Less than a year and half ago, a major earthquake struck the island nation of Haiti causing deaths in the thousands. In December 2005, an earthquake off the coast of Sumatra caused a tsunami which destroyed cities and claimed tens of thousands of lives. How could we forget the powerful Category 5 Hurricane Katrina that the left the city of New Orleans virtually underwater.
When I see such tragedy, loss of life, and displacement of people from the normal routines of life, I am reminded how fragile our given lives are. Millions of people went to sleep in Japan the night before believing the next day would be just like the previous one. For a great number, that time never come. We are told in scripture, in regards to the assuming of tomorrow, “whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away” (James 4:14). The psalmist wrote in Psalm 102:11, “My days are like a shadow that lengthens, And I wither away like grass.”
As we reflect on our lives today, let’s be thankful that God has given us this day to make a difference for Him. Let’s be prayerful that God will extend mercy and grace to the families who have lost loved ones and who await word on those missing. Let’s be hopeful as well that God’s love for the people of Japan will be seen and felt through the disaster relief efforts of the various agencies that will be looking to restore some sense of hope, stability, and normalcy.
There is a tremendous need for assistance in the nation of Haiti. Many relief organizations are on the ground giving assistance through counselling, clean water and food, construction, and medical supplies. One of the primary organizations that been on the ground in Haiti since the earthquake is Southern Baptist Convention Disaster Relief. Almost immediately, DR was there assessing the situation and giving guidance to other organizations. A major asset to the relief efforts are the established relationships between the people of Haiti and the Florida Baptist Convention, who has had a presence in Haiti for the past fifteen years.
Yesterday at Port Royal Baptist Church, we took our Haiti Relief Offering. We received $1,870. I just want to say “thank you” to our congregation for giving so sacrificially. I love the heart of our people. I am proud to be the pastor of a body of people who, when given the opportunity to give to a cause greater than themselves, seek to be like Christ in their actions. Again, thank you for your generous offering on behalf of Disaster Relief.
Most everyone knows of the 7.3 magnitude earthquake that devastated the tiny island nation of Haiti last Tuesday. It is difficult and saddening to watch countries like Haiti and others who have been stricken with similar disasters struggle through the aftermath. Weak governments, lack of national wealth, poor military, and inadequate infrastructure make the recovery from the these disasters all the more difficult. It is encouraging to me to see the outpouring of support that is pouring into Haiti. This help has come form such agencies as the Red Cross, Samaritan’s Purse, Doctors Without Borders, SBC Disaster Relief, and World Vision.
Sad but true, nothing brings the human spirit and heart together like tragedy. The world has seen this time and time again. From Hurricane Katrina to the Southeast Asia Tsunami of 2005, tragedy stirs the hearts of people. As we watch the recovery efforts unfold in Haiti, our hearts are burdened and hurting. We want to do something tangible.
At Port Royal Baptist Church, we will be doing our part. This coming Sunday we will take a Relief Offering for Haiti, giving our people an opportunity to help those who are hurting and displaced. Along with our monetary gifts, the people of Haiti need our prayers, both now and in the future. Haiti is a dark place spiritually. I truly believe the hands-on work of clean-up and rebuilding will serve as the hands and feet of Jesus before the people of Haiti. Perhaps through the simple acts of love more avenues for the gospel will open up.