As I look at pictures of my hometown in flames it is overwhelming to consider the needs of those people. One of the sweetest families that I know lost their business to this fire. Many people don’t even know if their home is still standing because the threat of fire is on going. What do we do? How do we respond? Where do we start?
Andy Stanley once said, “Do for one what you wish you could do for all” That statement has been huge in my life in trying to help people. I can’t provide meals, electricity, and clothing for 15,000 displaced people, but I could help one or two families.
There are a ton of families in need it should be easy to find one to help. So what’s next?
I lost everything to a house fire when I was 19 years old. The only clothes that I had was work out stuff that was in the trunk of my car. I can easily provide you with a list of needs for those that have just lost everything. Here is the list: EVERYTHING
People need food, clothing, water, shelter, etc. I know that many restaurants and businesses are stepping up now, but that is only meeting the needs of today. Tomorrow is coming and those offers are going to dramatically decrease. Find a family and help them buy clothing. Give gift cards to Walmart and Kroger. Loan out your extra car so the family has transportation to talk with insurance companies and doctors. The needs are everything and they are everywhere.
Matthew 7:12 says ““So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” If you lost everything you’d wish people would help you. Think about how you would want to be treated and what your family would need. It is by God’s grace that you aren’t the one in need.
Bring over gift cards. Provide a ride to work. Help them find a new job. Have their family over to dinner to help everyone process what is going on in town.
For those of us not living in East Tennessee what can we do other than donate to charities. The number one thing you could do is take your Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge vacation in 2016/2017. The short term impact of this fire is obviously huge. It is the long term impact that is equally concerning. Considering the economy of Sevier County is built on tourism this fire could cost more jobs because of people choosing to not vacation in the mountains. Most of what you enjoy doing on your vacation is untouched. I will be there next week staying in a hotel, eating almost every meal out with family, and doing some of the family fun stuff with my kids. We were scheduled to celebrate Christmas with my family and we are going even though I have no idea what to expect. So many jobs depend on other families doing the same.
Do for one what you wish you could do for all. Not just a philosophy of giving for this moment, but for every moment and in every community.