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Relief Work is Sexy

- by Dave

 Relief work is sexy. After a disaster, the media arrives and shows the devastation and people are moved, rightly so, by the horrifying images. The money and support begins to flow. The re-construction and aid begin to fill the vacuum that was left behind by the catastrophe. Like an emergency room team, the hope is to stabilize the situation enough to remove the danger of death. People from all walks of life and all income levels feel a call to be a part of the situation. They text $ and feel compelled to watch the latest news updates on the situation. This response is much needed and has saved countless lives and I am thankful for the relief it offers.

But after the cameras leave and the newness passes, the slow and often ugly process of development begins its march. It deals with the red-tape of government systems which are often corrupt or inept. It plods through past practices which possibly helped lead to the disaster. It confronts broken systems and feels the weight of funds that are no longer available. Ultimately it runs into the hearts of those involved.

It is here that lasting change takes place.  It is in the dignity, hope and value of the people. 

Even the very relief that was brought can make a people feel less capable. As they watch the transformation of those things visible, they may begin to feel even more hopeless. They know, at some point, the relief will end and they begin to believe the only way for change is for groups from the outside to come and save the day. Those groups are often happy to oblige. They accomplish a project, take a picture and ask for more $ to accomplish their good works and move on to the next disaster. They leave feeling good about all that they’ve accomplished. But left behind are hearts of those born into a battle that appears insurmountable.

True development happens as people feel worthy of more. As they find the hope to dream of a different situation for themselves or for their children or their children’s children. As they rise up and find the strength to fight for more, both from themselves and from those around. As they see themselves as children of God and that they have value. It is when they raise their heads up with dignity that change cannot be stopped.

As I began Hope 2 Others International about 5 years ago, I wanted to focus on something that all people deserve. Clean water. How degrading it must be to spend so much of your time, strength and income to get something so basic. Even then, it is often contaminated and is the source of the diarrhea that is killing your children. But water for me, is just a tool. It is a tool for change.

It is a way to work together with brothers and sisters from all over the world to change the situation they are living in. For them to see they are able to accomplish something that is life altering. That they can provide for their families and for those in even greater need than themselves. That someone wants to be with them in their struggle and to fight alongside them. That they are worthy.

As I chose to walk with God, he performed a huge relief work in my own life. But it is His willingness to stay in for the long haul and do development in my life that I am most thankful. It is His patience and mercy, as I feel stuck and hopeless, that bears witness to His love. It is in the community He has provided that I feel the strength to get up one more time and fight for change. Development isn’t always sexy, but as ugly as it is, it always seems lovely.
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