The numbers are staggering. The images haunting.

Villagers gather together in Ranchow, waiting for help in the rain. All 200 households in Ranchow lost everything. 22 lives were lost and 15 injured in this village. Photo: Artur Neumann from the International Nepal Fellowship

Villagers gather together in Ranchow, waiting for help in the rain. All 200 households in Ranchow lost everything. 22 lives were lost and 15 injured in this village.
Photo: Artur Neumann from the International Nepal Fellowship

A 7.9 earthquake is a big, big earthquake. The aftershocks being felt in Nepal are worse than many earthquakes felt around the world, and they continue on.

Naturally, we want to help. As we hear stories of cold weather coming in the Himalayas, monsoon season on its way and the number of poor families in rural Nepal who no longer have a home, we want to help.

What’s the best way to send assistance to a place halfway around the world? Here are three things to consider:

Send Money

Some organizations will have highly trained personnel ready to respond in a variety of specialities, but most of us are not those people. What can we send to help?

A doctor from the International Nepal Fellowship and the United Mission to Nepal treats a patient. Photo: Artur Neumann from the International Nepal Fellowship

A doctor from the International Nepal Fellowship and the United Mission to Nepal treats a patient.
Photo: Artur Neumann from the International Nepal Fellowship

A few weeks ago, I heard somebody say by the time we start collecting items to respond to a disaster and get them ready to ship — such as collecting blankets and tarps to go to Nepal — it’s too late. Think about the supply chain required here:

  1. Collect blankets in local community
  2. Combine with another community’s collection to fill a shipping container.
  3. Load the shipping container.
  4. Transport the shipping container to port.
  5. Wait for the ship to traverse the oceans.
  6. Coordinate a local resource to receive the container, bring trucks and staff with personnel to deliver aid.
  7. Finding the organizations who have stockpiled these resources and are already delivering them maximizes the value and impact of our dollar.

Go Local

Organizations active in disaster aid work hard to network and plan for an impending disaster so they can get to work faster. Their relationships with local and national governments, other partner organizations and awareness of the local cultural, political and relational climate are intangible assets that outside organizations don’t and won’t have when working in country.

The balance to this is the widespread devastation in Nepal. Can local residents help themselves when they’re taking care of their own well-being?

Destroyed homes in the village of Mailum. Photo: Artur Neumann from the International Nepal Fellowship

Destroyed homes in the village of Mailum.
Photo: Artur Neumann from the International Nepal Fellowship

Organizations with a regional presence can bring personnel and resources into Nepal from the surrounding areas and work through local partners. With these resources close at hand, the response is quick.

Expect Accountability

Find an organization which can follow up with you and tell you stories of their continued work.

The value placed on reporting and accountability for fund distribution varies greatly from organization to organization, but you should know where your funds (in general) are going, how they will be spent and what services the organization intends to complete.

When the project is complete, you should hear from the organization. If you don’t, ask for it. If you’ve done your homework in choosing an organization to support, then they likely have this information.

Looking for a way to partner in an international disaster like the earthquakes in Haiti or Nepal? The Integral Alliance is a global alliance of 20 Christian relief and development agencies, working together to present a more effective response to poverty worldwide. Their affiliates are hard at work in Nepal right now.

A Simple Request

Aaron —  September 16, 2014 — 3 Comments

10648768_787151671307735_4624794679919594397_oFriends, a simple request for you to consider: when I started at First Things First of Greater Richmond in January, I knew a little bit about what I was getting into. I had been to one class, after all! But what I have discovered is there is so much more…

  • experiences for dads, all over the region, to help them be better dads.
  • workshops for couples to be better at parenting and loving each other.
  • camps and classes for youth to understand how to have a healthy relationship.

Two stories for you:

One of my favorite days so far in this role was back in July. We planned a day-long workshop for Camp Diva which combined our usual teaching time but also included plenty of time outside, playing games and interacting with the girls. At the end of the day, it was clear they had soaked up so much of what we had taught because it was such an interactive experience.

sr-ftf

Second, I facilitated our Boot Camp for New Dads at Henrico Doctors’ Hospital back in August. (For those of you who haven’t heard my First Things First story, Boot Camp was my first interaction with the organization before T was born!) On this summer Saturday morning, there were three dads who stood out — one dad was preparing to move to Boston with his wife until their daughter was born, just so they could be nearby some of the best pediatric cardiologists in the nation (they came home over the weekend, and baby girl is doing great!); one dad is shifting careers and will be working part-time at home to care for their new baby while his wife works; and one dad was making plans with his wife to adopt a newborn, their first child. There are a lot of dads with a lot of stories, and these three guys are just some of the dads who will pass through one of our 37 Boot Camp classes in 2014.

boot-camp-gram

So far this year, 4,149 people have crossed paths with our organization during an event, class or workshop, and we still have 3+ months to go. In any given week, I work with schools, churches, correctional facilities, businesses and local government. It’s an exciting place to be, and it’s great work to be part of.

Our goal in the Amazing Raise (6 AM Wednesday to 6 PM Thursday): at least 50 unique gifts of $50. The first 50 will be matched by a generous donor.

I know giving is a personal decision, so now I it to you. I know there are a lot of great organizations out there, and I hope you’ll consider supporting at least one during the Amazing Raise.

Thanks for considering, and thanks for supporting me in all of the many ways you do.

You can give online to the Amazing Raise on our website, www.FirstThingsRichmond.org, from 6 AM Wednesday morning through 6 PM Thursday evening.

Since I’m not a youth pastor anymore, I’ve been “downloading” my habits, rituals and best practices and mentally shifting gears. Summer certainly reminds me of a lot of great memories in youth ministry, as well as some of the more stressful moments. – aL

http://www.flickr.com/photos/flickerbulb/13704773/It’s summertime, which means youth groups across the country are hitting the water. Every time the church bus pulls out of the parking lot, there’s always at least one person upset with the dress code for the girls.

One of the biggest problems dude youth pastors face is trying to tell these teenage ladies how to dress on the beach. Here are a few common scenarios:

“Beach = Monastery” Guy

This guy creates rules, enforces rules and likes it. He is solely responsible for the most well-covered, modest-looking youth group on the coast. The group leaders probably didn’t need to pack sunscreen because there is no skin showing here. There will also be no hanky-panky.

Arch-enemy: the high school girl who thinks she needs deserves a little sun…to feel good impress the boys.

“Anything Goes” Guy

Rules? This guy doesn’t believe in them. As few rules as possible make for the best memories. Police and property managers should keep an eye out for misfits lying in the shadows, because hey, there’s no rule against that.

Arch-enemy: the mom who remembers everything she wasn’t allowed to wear on youth group beach trips growing up.

The “Ladies Call” Guy

This guy leaves the girls rules to the ladies and takes care of the guys. No “purple” here.

Arch-enemy: this guy doesn’t know, because somebody else is taking care of it.

Guys, consider this:

  • young ladies today need adult males who respect them more than their peers. Delegating these “rules” to responsible female adults in your group sends the message that modesty is important and you respect these girls, and the influence of your female leaders.
  • don’t go there. You don’t need to be making bathing suit rules any more than you need to be taking girls home after youth group in your car. How do you spell trouble?
  • young guys need to hear you talk about respect, too. The world around them isn’t teaching them any differently, and you will be doing a great service to the ladies these guys date and marry down the road.

A big shout out to Suze. She was my go-to female leader for most of my last few years in youth ministry. She did a great job being fair, appropriate and leaving me out of it. And she always took care of the “purple pouch” (don’t ask).

I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.