Community disasters often attract media interest and it can be beautiful to see how many people offer help and support. It is a perfect time for the church to offer support and care and its important that we do this well.
A few tips to ensure that we are helpful in community traumas such as incidents with a gun, terrorist threats or attacks, floods, house fires, a car traffic accidents.
1. It's important to know our boundaries and know that we need to respect the professionals and let them do their job
Those who may be involved in an incident are:
- ambulance crew
We can offer these professionals tea and coffee and food. We can ask them what we could do to help. It's best to always make sure that they believe we are being helpful.
2. NOMINATE A LEADER TO REPRESENT THE CHURCH GROUP
It's best to nominate a leader to represent the church group who can ask these questions because they have limited time to be able to answer many helpful individual's questions and need to be left to focus on the incident.
3. IDENTIFY PEOPLE ON THE CHURCH TEAM WHO ARE TRAINED AND QUALIFIED IN SOME WAY THAT COULD BE USEFUL
If people on the church team are trained and qualified in some way that could be useful make sure that they can be identified. Sometimes additional doctors, psychotherapists, nurses, teachers, those with psychological first aid qualifications can be helpful.
4. OFFER A SAFE SPACE FOR PEOPLE TO MEET AFTER AN INCIDENT
Offering a safe space for people to meet after an incident is over and offering food and drink can be very helpful. Research evidences that when a community incident has occurred, recovery is facilitated when the people impacted by the same incident can meet over food and naturally find comfort in the mutual experience. They may want to talk about it or they may want to just be alongside others who understand some of what they are experiencing.
Offering a safe space for people to meet after an incident is over and offering food and drink can be very helpful
5. KEEP REMEMBERING THE PEOPLE IMPACTED AFTER THE MEDIA ATTENTION AND PROFESSIONALS HAVE LEFT THE SCENE
Keep remembering the people impacted after the media attention and professionals have left the scene. It is in the weeks and months that follow where we can be helpful to those who can otherwise feel forgotten and yet still full of pain, turmoil, fear and uncertainty about the events that took place. The giving of cards, offers of help, food and offers of community meals can be really helpful to those impacted months ago by a negative community experience.
The giving of cards, offers of help, food and offers of community meals can be really helpful to those impacted months ago by a negative community experience
6. It's important to remember that people impacted by negative community events can feel vulnerable and it is not appropriate to give a theological presentation to those we help
It's important that people can ask us questions and we can answer but we never enforce or 'take the opportunity' to present a gospel that they didn't ask to hear. We love in action and pray that they will seek to find Jesus but trust God in the process.