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Habitat Magazine december 2017

Helping families build back

From our CEO – Jonathan T.M. Reckford

Faith through action

The danger of looking at large-scale disasters from high ground is that it can make the recovery seem too big, too overwhelming. Instead, we have to take the destruction wrought by hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria and the earthquakes in Mexico personally, house by house. In every house is a family that wants to put their life back together.

That’s what Vicky and her 9-year-old daughter, Aaliyah, want. The first thing that struck me as I was
ripping out drywall and trim in Aaliyah’s room a few days after the storm was the jumble of ruined possessions strewn on the floor: the stuffed animals, playing cards, math workbooks, a basketball. Vicky wanted us to try to save her dishes and whatever shoes we could, which we carefully did, along with a
few family photos.

In so many ways, I realized that these families are starting over. It just doesn’t seem fair. They’ve lost so much in these storms — except their resolve to build back. I can’t tell you why disasters happen. But
I believe that they present an opportunity for people to put their faith into action. One of my favorite teachings is from Tim Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City. When God says
love your neighbor as yourself, Pastor Keller says, that means loving and meeting the needs of your neighbors with all of the power and fire that you employ to meet your own needs.

I have seen beautiful examples of that kind of power and fire since these devastating storms. In this holiday season — as we celebrate home, family and the divine love that redeems all suffering — let us remember that, together, we can help bring light to families like Vicky’s.

Let us not be deterred by how much tearing out and building up has yet to be done. Let us keep our focus on Vicky and Aaliyah and all of the families who are counting on us to help them put their lives back together. Your support keeps us there. As these families face a hard holiday season, please give what you can to help. Give as if they were your own family — because in God’s eyes, they are.

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