Thursday, September 8, 2022

Disaster Response Ministry: Le Tour

By Douglas Hoy, Disaster Response Coordinator

I am an avid bike rider and enjoy spending time on the roads and trails. I cycle for exercise and the enjoyment of the outdoors. Each year, during the month of July, you can find me glued to the television watching le Tour de France and le Tour de France femmes. 

Also referred to as “grand tours” in the cycling community, these men’s and women’s races involve up to 200 individual riders representing 24 teams from professional cycling world-wide. Over the course of a few weeks, these riders traverse the French countryside completing daily stages (21 for the men and eight for the women) and riding approximately 3,500 kilometers (2,200 miles) and 1,033.6 km total (642 miles) respectively. For perspective, as a novice rider, the most I have ridden has been 74 miles in one day and 400 miles over the course of a month.

The tour is both a team sport and an individual one that relies on strategies and tactics to be successful. Only one rider can stand on the podium as the winner of each stage. Four additional riders are recognized as race leaders. Each is awarded a colorful leader’s jerseys (yellow, green, polka dot, and white) for that stage. And, when the tour concludes in Paris, the overall leader and category winners are crowned as champions. To have a rider from your team standing on the podium is celebrated as a team success.

As I watched each stage unfold, I could not help but think about the parallels of this concept as they apply to how the church and the Disaster Response Ministry work. Scripture tells us “There is one body, but it has many parts. But all its many parts make up one body. It is the same with Christ. We were all baptized by one Holy Spirit. And so we are formed into one body. It didn’t matter whether we were Jews or Gentiles, slaves or free people. We were all given the same Spirit to drink. So the body is not made up of just one part. It has many parts.” (1 Corinthians 12:12-14)

In cycling, the team is comprised of individuals who each have certain skills that contribute to the team. There are riders that are known for their speed and sprinting ability. Others are better at climbing the steep mountains. And, some are skilled at maintaining a pace. But, without them all, the team cannot be successful.

Likewise, in Paul’s illustration, the church is one body and comprised of many specialists who serve in many different capacities to share the gospel in the community. And, in disaster response, relief and recovery efforts would not be as successful without a multitude of people sharing their many skills and abilities. 

On July 27 and 28, portions of Kentucky sustained major flooding and hundreds of houses and businesses have been destroyed. Relief efforts are ongoing and my counterpart in the Kentucky Annual Conference is working with UMCOR and other disaster relief agencies to meet the needs of the communities affected. While we wait for assessments to be completed and needs to be identified, there are many things our team can be doing to support this effort.

PRAY. Spend time, individually and collectively, praying for the victims, leaders, and emergency responders in these communities. This can be a powerful tool in the immediate and long-term aftermath of a disaster. As you pray, petition God for direction and guidance on how you can be involved.

SUPPORT. The financial need after a disaster is great. Your generous giving makes this possible. To provide financial support, click: UMCOR US Disaster Response and Recovery Advance. This will ensure 100 percent of the donation reaches the affected area, supports the work of UMCOR and its partners, and meets the needs of the community.

ACT. While we wait, consider assembling UMCOR cleaning and hygiene kits. Information about those kits and how to assemble them can be found on the UMCOR website or the Mission Central website.

Every gift comes from God. And, 1 Peter 4:10 tells us we should “use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” 

In the future, there will be opportunities to serve the people of Kentucky. Until then, work together as faithful stewards of these gifts to honor Him, bless others in your community, and build His Kingdom.

Douglas Hoy, Disaster Response Coordinator
Phone: 717-766-7441, ext. 3402
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