Whenever I hear about a major disaster, I always turn my thoughts toward anyone who is ministering to the involved people. It may be chaplains, social workers, the Red Cross or concerned people, but there are always people trying their best to be a comfort during a time when there is no comfort. Some of the help involves physical aid like food, clothing, someplace to stay, etc.; but some of it also includes praying to God.
The recent horrific fires in Maui, Hawaii, are a case in point. Yes, there a lot of chaplains present there assisting the fire victims, as well as other concerned folks. You only have to Google the situation on Maui to see the chaplains interacting with the people involved. Almost every picture shows a chaplain praying (yes, praying) with the victims. Actually, what else can you do? They are now estimating it will cost at least five billion dollars to restore the island. Who has that kind of money?
Let's say someone gives a thousand dollars to the rescue attempt. That represents just .0000002% of $5,000,000,000 -- if I did the math right. Five billion dollars is a lot of money. Normally, we turn to our government to help them, but where is that money going to come from?
Some people will simply refuse to get involved saying, "They built their homes there knowing the danger; now, let them handle the consequences." But that does not reflect either compassion or Christian concern.
So, where can we get the help those people in disasters need? Unfortunately, our current government in Washington D.C. can't even get beyond politics to enact a working budget to keep our country from defaulting on its obligations, let alone find five billion dollars lying around.
Dysfunctional governments have a very difficult time doing anything constructive to help others. They are too much concerned about finding votes. There is something basically wrong with a government that allows one person to destroy the leadership of the armed forces. If you do not have good leadership, the army and any other group are in danger of falling into splinters, creating chaos and rebellion. For the first time in American history, there are no generals leading any of the branches of our armed forces, and over 300 other leaders that have not been promoted all because one person has decided that his way is more important than his country's. Yes, he has an important issue, but there are always important issues; what is important is how you resolve them, not what you do to destroy others to get your own way.
Now, we have government leaders who are advocating getting out of Ukraine. They say it's just too costly and involves too much energy. Yes, they are right; our involvement does involve too much effort, but ignoring the situation is worse. Too many people and countries sat on the sidelines and watched Germany kill the Jews and anyone else who did not say "Heil Hitler!" during World War II. History has recorded the results of those mistakes. Historians recording the debacle in Ukraine today will probably clarify the travesty of the situation and ask the people still alive why they did not do more to stop this charade. It is time for the civilized nations of our world to tell those who are involved to STOP!
Disasters are terrible and only a collective effort by a lot of people and nations can help when the disaster is like the magnitude of the one in Hawaii. We have to find ways to help and be willing to do our part. As people living in the largest and strongest democracy in the world, it is time for us to be more selective about making sure we have people serving in our governments who are caring individuals more devoted to serving their people and following the Constitution than advancing their political agendas. When disasters strike, it should not matter what political party you belong to; what matters is working together to show the compassion God wants all of creation to provide during extreme hardship.
One must always remember that the time may come when the disaster involves you and, when you cry for help, that there are caring people who respond.
Robert Box has been a law enforcement chaplain for 30 years. He is a diplomate-level chaplain with the International Conference of Police Chaplains and is an endorsed chaplain with the American Baptist Churches USA. He also currently serves as a deputy sheriff chaplain for the Benton County Sheriff's Office. Opinions expressed are those of the author and not the agencies he serves.