For me, as a faith community leader who is also a disaster responder, Job is a constant Godly reminder. What God reminds me/us in this essential book is that when the world was created – disasters were built into the world. AND, we must be prepared for this fact of life.
Disasters are part of creation, just like the rainbow and the flowers and the sun. The Book of Job shows up in the opening chapters that we can and should expect a large range of types of disasters:
· Wild fires – Job 1:16 – “God’s fire fell from heaven…and burned them up”
· Windstorms such as tornadoes and hurricanes and similar – Job 1:19 – “A mighty wind came from the wilderness. It struck the four corners of the house so it collapsed upon the young people and they died.”
· War – Job 1:15 “when Sabeans attacked” and Job 1:17 “A Chaldean formation of three columns made a raid”
If we are really faithful, in our spirit and in our heart, then Job teaches us that God is saying to each of us not “if” but “when.” Disasters are not an “if.” Disasters are really a “when” as in: “When will the next disaster in my community take place?” Faith then steps in when we follow up this question with: “What do I need to do to be prepared?”
As leaders of faith communities God expect us to take action – not just preach. I believe that God expects us to answer the preparedness question with real action.
Here are some very focused and “small” ways to live our faith in regards to “What do I need to do to be prepared as a faith community?”
· Heart Attack during worship services – Has my house of worship trained all our ushers in CPR? Red Cross will come in and do a training. Do we have a defibulator in the worship hall and are the ushers trained to use it?
· Fire (and other disasters) during worship – Have we had fire drills during worship services some time during the last two years? If we live in a common tornado area, have we practiced getting into the shelter? And, is there an appropriate shelter? Also, have we trained our ushers in preparing for a “lock down?”
· Earthquake Zone – Have we prepared if an earthquake hits during services when we have a full house? This includes asking such questions as: Do we have water for 3 days for X many people who may have to “shelter in place?” Do we have simple food for 3 days such as crackers and canned food? Do we have enough first aid kits to help with minor injuries?
Live your faith! God teaches that disasters are a part of creation. Now, it is up to us to believe, to live our faith by preparing for the world as God created it. Do not let us be like this man:
“A man that lived by a river. He heard a radio report that the river was going to rush up and flood the town, and that the all the residents should evacuate their homes. But the man said, "I'm religious. I pray. God loves me. God will save me." The waters rose up. A guy in a rowboat came along and he shouted, "Hey, hey you, you in there. The town is flooding. Let me take you to safety." But the man shouted back, "I'm religious. I pray. God loves me. God will provide a miracle and save me." A helicopter was hovering overhead and a guy with a megaphone shouted, "Hey you, you down there. The town is flooding. Let me drop this ladder and I'll take you to safety." But the man shouted back that he was religious, that he prayed, that God loved him and that God would provide a miracle and take him to safety. Well... the man drowned. And standing at the gates of heaven he demanded an audience with God. "Lord," he said, "I'm a religious man, I pray, I thought you loved me. Why did this happen?" God said, "I sent you a radio report, a guy in a rowboat, and finally a helicopter. Three miracles were not enough for you?"
Chaplain Roberts is a longtime leader in the field of professional chaplaincy. He is a past president of the NAJC and was instrumental in helping create the joint chaplaincy national standards. His current focus is creating an education infrastructure to help professional chaplains and clergy excel as they learn new professional skills and concepts.
ChaplainDL will launch in June Disaster Spiritual Care - A Competency Focused Certificate Training, an in-depth, graduate school level on-line training, the first of its kind based upon the just published National VOAD Disaster Spiritual Care Guidelines. The course begins preparing local leaders of faith communities to provide spiritual care after a disaster, with a focus on shared settings in which one would work with a title most commonly referred to as: “a disaster spiritual care chaplain.”