Relief Work: An Inside Look


By 30 Hour Famine Team

Screen Shot 2015-10-23 at 8.51.29 AMWhen you hear the term “disaster relief,” what image comes to mind?  Do you see some cavalier Indiana Jones figure swinging from vine to vine passing out life-saving goods and dramatically rescuing children from the clutches of death?

It’s easy to romanticize relief work until the task resembles an adventure movie, but the reality is much different. The men and women who respond to disasters and other humanitarian emergencies engage in long, hard, tedious, and sometimes thankless work. Not every relief job involves swooping in to rescue a child on the verge of death. Hours of preparation, planning, and organization combine to make it possible to provide life-saving care and support to people who are enduring a disaster. Relief workers are there long after dramatic media coverage fades. And when the public forgets the cries for help, relief workers are still there responding to them.

Through these days, weeks, and months of hard work, World Vision staff are always reminded of the need to derive their strength from the Lord—there’s simply no other way to do a job as hard and heart-breaking as this.

“Disaster relief is meant to relieve the pain and suffering of someone who has suffered a disaster, natural or man made,” said World Vision’s Audrey Black. “It means to provide assistance and necessities to bring some type of normalcy to their life.”

Any responsibility that aids the survivors of disasters or humanitarian emergencies like civil conflicts falls into the category of relief work.  Some workers on the scene pull men, women, and children from the rubble. Some patch wounds. Others provide food and clean water.  Most do all of the above.

Yet many others work behind the scenes to make all this work on the ground possible. Doctors and nurses are incredibly valuable in relief work, as you’d expect…but so are drivers and shipping coordinators. Have you ever thought about how your donations of product actually get into a disaster zone?

Screen Shot 2015-10-23 at 8.51.38 AMSometimes goods is driven, sometimes shipped, sometimes flown in. And they arrive in palates, in truckloads, and truly massive shipments. Then there’s someone who delivers it and there’s someone who opens up the palates and organizes the boxes. That’s relief work too. It’s more than just the person on the frontlines; it’s the body—more than just the sum of parts, because when the body works together, Christ is there.

Here’s why this is great news: in places that seem like hope is gone, Christ is there. In places that have been destroyed by nature or by man, Christ is there. When the media goes away, Christ is still there through the body.

Pray that the body of Christ would be strong in places like Lebanon and South Sudan, in Nepal as they continue to rebuild after the earthquake earlier this year, and in Mexico where Hurricane Patricia is expected to hit. Pray that lives would be saved and that staff would shine the light of Christ into darkness.