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10 Minutes Peace

    by Susan McGrath

Dealing With Disaster
Date Posted: September 3, 2005

When the twin towers fell, my oldest son was almost five years old.

He didn't watch the news unless he happened to be in the room when my husband or I were watching. He was in preschool - they talked about colors and good manners, not current events. Yet he knew something had happened and we felt he deserved an honest explanation.

I explained that some guys who were not very nice flew planes into the buildings. They did it on purpose because they wanted to hurt people. When he asked why, I replied, "They don't know about Jesus and how much he loves them."

I had no idea if this would make sense to him, but it seemed to satisfy much of his curiosity, and most of his questions from then on were about how things happened and what would happen next rather than "why".

Here we are almost four years later and an even greater tragedy has occurred. Some will argue that point, I know, but hurricane Katrina's devastation will affect many more lives in ways some of us cannot comprehend.

This is a natural disaster, not a terrorist act. It doesn't incite us to indignation and fury. It just is. Then there are the pictures on the news. They remind us so much of what we've seen on tsunami-ravaged Asian coasts and African refugee camps. Could this really be happening in the United States of America, one of the most advanced and richest countries ever?


Many of these "refugees" have no homes or even jobs to return to. Their children need to be in school. They need a real home to live in and an income to pay for it. Some have lost loved ones as well and need to heal. I can't even imagine so much loss in the course of a few hours!

My son is almost nine now. His assignment for Social Studies this week was to watch the coverage of Katrina's damage on the news.

He didn't ask why. He also didn't ask what we could do to help. Perhaps it never occurred to him. I wonder how many of us are seriously asking that question?

The obvious answer is to pray. But can we do more? Of course, but that would require lots of time and energy and money -- an investment of ourselves into the life of a stranger.

If you've ever seen the movie "Pay It Forward", you remember that one boy started a "movement" of something similar to random acts of kindness. The twist with his idea was that you had do something positive for three people that they couldn't do for themselves.

Hmmm . . . ..

This may sound huge, even impossible. But how many of us could propose to our church, the churches of our community, or a civic organization where we live to adopt a family displaced by the hurricane?

Let's take it one step further. Rather than just sending money or aid for them, how about bringing them to our community, enrolling their children in school, finding them a church family, putting them up in decent housing, helping them find or train for a job and loving and praying for them as they heal.

I'm sure there are groups near the disaster and isolated ones around the country doing just this. But what if we made it an actual movement? What if we all reached out and offered more than our sympathy and a small donation? What if one hundred people or groups did that for ten families each? What if one thousand of us felt convicted to do this? Wow!

James 5:13 says, "Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray."
And I hope our prayers would more than fill the buses used to evacuate those stranded in New Orleans.

God says he will provide comfort for us, but we have an obligation according to 2 Corinthians 1:4, "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God."

Please share your comfort with someone who desperately needs it.

If you take on this challenge, please share your story with me at

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Biography Information:
Susan McGrath is:

a recovering journalist trying to encourage others and glorify God through writing;

living the small-town life with husband Tim and sons Lincoln, 12, and Sawyer, 6;

completing a few put-off writing projects while using chocolate for therapy.
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