How can I best care for the church in crisis? Karen Ellis shares four ways that the body of Christ can come alongside fellow believers worldwide in times of crisis.
From what I’ve observed, there are at least four opportunities for us to come alongside the body of Christ when the church is in time of crisis, whether that’s through war, or through persecution. And the four are easy categories.
Meeting Practical Needs
The first is practical logistics. We’ve got to be praying for things that drive daily life, things that affect people like food supply, medical supply. In some cases, ammunition. Difficulties getting in and out. Humanitarian crises that are caused by people crossing borders. Some church members will be called up to civil defense duty. Others will start up triage units in their churches for the wounded. Still others will provide hospitality in neighboring countries when a government falls apart, or when a country is assailed. So there are a number of practical levels that we just need to be praying for: for strength, for opportunity, and to combat compassion fatigue. To continue to be able to provide those resources when they begin to run thin.
We need to pray for people to be able to discern and cut through the fog, and see what’s actually true.[The] second category is the area of truth. There’s a lot of misinformation and disinformation in the fog of war, both spiritual and temporal. And so, we need to pray for people to be able to discern and cut through the fog, and see what’s actually true. Everything from communication lines, to finding out the status of loved ones, where they are, how they’re doing, all of those things become thick when crisis sets in.
Praying for Wisdom
A third opportunity is to pray for wisdom. There are no easy decisions in a time of crisis. And for the church, people have to decide if they’re going to stay, if they’re going to go, if they’re going to move as a unit, as a community, move as families, move as individuals. None of those are easy decisions. It’s easy for us to sit out and, sort of, judge whether people stay or go. But until your back is against the wall, you really don’t know how difficult those decisions are to choose to transport your family from A to B, and then return to a hostile zone and leave them in God’s care. So, praying for wisdom and discernment with those decisions.
Looking to Christ
Only the body of Christ can provide the hope that’s found in Christ.And then the fourth category is something that really, only the church can do. Organizations can provide comfort, they can provide aid, they can provide relief, they can provide hospitality. But only the body of Christ can provide the hope that’s found in Christ. And so, to be able to have enough of your mind left in a difficult situation to continue to point people to Christ, the Provider, the Sustainer, the One who gives strength and courage, and to look for those opportunities and to watch God’s hand in the middle of it, because only his hand and his plan and his sovereignty make sense out of such a senseless thing like war. If that sounds like pie in the sky, then you’ve probably never had your back against the wall for your faith, or in a time of crisis. Because when those times come, that’s when pie becomes power.