John Lilly, a member of University Baptist Church, is a disaster relief volunteer with more than two decades of experience on international and US sites. When asked by UBA Guest Editor, Karen Campbell, about his commitment to disaster relief ministries, John responded in this way: 

I once received this letter from one of the 4th grade departments: "Dear Mr. Lilly, Please come to our department next Sunday. We would like to interview you about how you help our church do the work of missions. We would like to ask you: How did God call you to be a missionary? and What type of missionary did God call you to be?"

Before I could answer these questions we had to agree on "WHAT is a missionary?" and "WHAT does a missionary look like?" I put on some of my missionary costumes for them -- my Texas Baptist Men's Disaster Relief shirt, cap, and jacket; my Kenya safari hat and waist skirt, my Russian fur hat. Their conclusion, as well as mine, was that none of these really helped me look very missionary. 

We agreed that a missionary is ANYONE (even a 4th grader) who has a mission to perform for God, whether at home, next door, down the street, across town, or anywhere in the world. (Astronaut Dave Lestma and others even get to be missionaries when they are OUT of this world). A missionary is characterized by a genuine willingness to serve, a total commitment and dedication to the task, and by the positive actions taken to accomplish it. 

Mel Browne is a man of great wisdom and years of experience. He once said that we don't have to wait around for God to go to work! He works 24 hours a day! All we have to do is open our eyes, look around and see what God is doing, and then take advantage of the opportunity He provides for us to join WITH Him in His work. Sometimes we may get disappointed or discouraged in trying to accomplish our task. But if we are ON MISSION with God we can be sure that we will NEVER be on MISSION IMPOSSIBLE!! God does not call people, just to watch them struggle and fail! With every challenge He puts before us, and with every task He asks us to perform, we can be absolutely assured of His ability and faithfulness to provide us with EVERY resource we will require. 

What would I tell another church about why they should consider getting involved with disaster relief? First I would say that we are all going to be involved with disaster, one way or another, whether we 'consider' it or not. Disasters will find us! God's will for our lives, either as individuals or as Churches is simply to be Willing, Prepared, and Ready to go Anywhere, at Anytime, to do Anything He asks us to do. The question should be whether we as a Church and as individuals really desire to be equipped to minister to the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of hurting people. 

Disasters provide many opportunities for us to offer a cup of cold water in Jesus' name as we minister to persons in their time of need. Will we be prepared to minister to these needs or simply stand by and watch others as they fulfill our responsibility to do so? Jesus came not to be ministered to, but to minister and to give..... If He is our model, then we too should be in the ministering and giving business. 

II Tmothy2:15 say, "Study to show yourself a WORKMAN,,,,,,,". Workmen need to be trained in order to be ready and able to be effective. There is no better institution than the Churches to provide training for men and women volunteers to show the Love of Jesus in response to the needs of hurting people during times of natural or man-made disasters.  

You never know when you might be at the scene or involved in an incident where someone is bleeding, having a heart attack, or just plain choking to death either physically or spiritually. IF you have some background, knowledge, and training in what to do, you just might even be able to help save someone's life. 

We should be dedicated and committed: 1) To join with God in carrying out His Mission to take the Gospel, along with a helping hand, to victims of devastating disasters; 2) To follow the spirit of Jesus teaching to His disciples in Matthew 25: 31-40; 3) To provide food, shelter, physical support, emotional comfort, and spiritual hope both to disaster victims and to those who are working to meet these needs.  

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Reflections of an Advocate for Disaster Relief: John Lilly