By Nathan Lau, Samaritan’s Purse Disaster Assistance Response Team medical officer and nurse in Calgary, Canada
Samaritan’s Purse is clearly very serious about responding to disasters around the world. Last week, they invested enormous time, energy, passion, and resources into training 55 people from around the world to more effectively respond to disasters.
In one of the lectures, the speaker mentioned that a good way to make decisions in a crisis is to ask yourself what will happen if you do not act. Here’s what I asked myself next: How many will die if I do not respond to a disaster?
Answer: The same amount that would die if I did respond.
Nope, there is no typo. One hundred percent of all the people in a disaster will eventually die. That also happens to be the exact percentage of people who will die in a non-disaster situation also. So for the same end result, why would I potentially risk life or limb by sticking myself in the middle of a crisis?
I grew up in a church, and I’ve probably read the Bible cover to cover at least twice. I tithe, I don’t cheat on my wife, and people typically call me a “nice guy.” But the fact is, for most of my life I have cared more about myself than the thousands of starving orphans and widows in the world. To me the greatest humanitarian disaster is not Pompeii or the tsunami of 2004. It is the condition of the human heart, mine included.
Consider how many people have died from natural disasters versus human-made disasters like war and abortion. It is like comparing a ditch on the side of the highway with the Grand Canyon. The human heart is devastatingly broken. It is humans who enslave generations; it is humans who torture for entertainment; it is humans who use children as instruments of war and pleasure.
But for me, this is not primarily about mortality rates or theological debates about who is to blame for the state of the world. My life was once a wasteland without meaning, but now it has real hope for reconciliation and redemption. My existence was once a fleeting moment amounting to nothing, but now it is infused with purpose and breath eternal.
Like so many other men and women serving with Samaritan’s Purse, or supporting through prayer and donations, I am convinced that risking life and limb is but a small price to pay to serve God through the love that He first gave us. The relief of suffering is not a futile exercise in delaying death; it is an opportunity to share the way, the truth, and the life eternal with others. And that is simply good economics. I risk a moment of my temporal life in the hopes that God can use it to help another person to find their eternal one.
It is a glorious phrase – “He led captivity captive.” (Psalm 68:18)
The very triumphs of His foes, it means, He used for their defeat. He compelled their dark achievements to subserve His end, not theirs. They nailed Him to the tree, not knowing that by that very act they were bringing the world to His feet. They gave Him a cross, not guessing that He would make it a throne. They flung Him outside the gates to die, not knowing that in that very moment they were lifting up all the gates of the universe, to let the King come in. They thought to root out His doctrines, not understanding that they were implanting imperishably in the hearts of men the very name they intended to destroy. They thought they had defeated God with His back to the wall, pinned and helpless and defeated: they did not know that it was God Himself who had tracked them down. He did not conquer in spite of the dark mystery of evil. He conquered through it.
James Stewart, Scotland
There are hundreds of other organizations that feed, shelter, and cure the weak and vulnerable of the world. However, with Samaritan’s Purse, I am commissioned to do all these things and more for the greater purpose of instilling real and lasting hope where it is needed most. I am a part of delaying evil, not for a day, but eradicating it forever in the light of the Son, Jesus.