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This past spring, I trained to be a relief worker with Georgia Baptist Disaster Relief. This organization coordinates volunteers to help those impacted by a natural disaster. Their motto is “Bringing Help, Hope, & Healing,” and two Bible verses reflect their purpose.

But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need,

and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?

1 John 3:17 (NKJV)

People’s physical needs in these situations vary according to the extent of their loss, but they all need to know someone cares.

And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works.

Hebrews 10:24 (NKJV)

Volunteers encourage each other with stories of their encounters, and victims often advocate for the people they know who are vulnerable.

In September I experienced my first deployment, which was to Valdosta after Hurricane Idalia swept through, leaving in its wake fallen trees, severed power lines, and flood waters. Once the water receded, one focus of Georgia Baptist Disaster Relief was tree removal and roof tarping.

I joined the group three weeks after they’d begun ministering to the community. The family care team I was assigned to visited those who already had work done to make sure their needs had been met. We also connected these victims with other resources and prayed with them.

Even though the storm had passed, many of the people we talked with needed to describe their storm experience. We heard story after story of God’s grace and protection. Most expressed their gratitude not only for the work done, but also for the attitudes and care the volunteer workers had displayed.

I was deeply blessed by this experience. I worked with caring, dedicated people willing to share God’s love through labor. I also met residents who were more concerned for their neighbors than themselves. I saw firsthand how God can use a natural disaster to draw people to Him and to each other.

Over 2000 years ago, on an ordinary night, a tremendous event happened. It wasn’t a natural disaster—quite the opposite—but it frightened the shepherds.

These shepherds were tending their sheep. Given their proximity to Bethlehem, perhaps these sheep were destined to be sacrificed in the Temple.

Suddenly, they weren’t alone.

And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the

glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.

Luke 2:9 (NKJV)

After telling them not to be afraid, the angel reassured the shepherds with great news.

“For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior,

who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: 

You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”

Luke 2:11-12 (NKJV)

A host of angels appeared and praised God. Imagine how surprised these shepherds must have felt. Once the angels went back to heaven, the shepherds searched for the Babe and found Him just as the angels had described.

Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying

which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it

marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

Luke 2:17-18 (NKJV)

Society looked down on shepherds, but that didn’t stop God from sending angels to them to announce the birth of His Son. Also, their low status didn’t stop the shepherds from proclaiming the good news to anyone who would listen.

We are now in the season of Advent. It’s a time to reflect and prepare for the celebration of the birth of Christ. He was born to save all people. Because Jesus lived a sinless life then died for our sins, those of us who know Him as our Savior can experience deep gratitude and true peace this season.

Advent is also a time to anticipate the return of Christ in the Second Coming. When Christ does return, there will be no more disasters—natural or otherwise—for those who have placed their faith in Jesus. That’s definitely a reason to rejoice.