A Transformational response to tragedy and crisis, Part I

The Haiti earthquake has Generous Mind Jon Hirst thinking about a Transformational response to tragedy and crisis.

I believe Jon’s post represents tremendous counsel. One of the seldom noted elements of biblical giving is that God holds us accountable not simply for giving but for the results of our giving. Being moved out of compassion to give is good, and yet it can become zeal without knowledge if we don’t pair that compassion with insight on how to make a genuine difference, which, as Jon so rightly points out, is typically done in community.

Check out Jon’s post and then share in the comments section your own thoughts on the questions Jon asked me:

  • What do you believe is a transformational response to disaster?
  • Are there any unique dynamics that Transformational Giving brings to such a response?

If you’ve experienced a Transformational Giving element in tragedy–and, especially, if you’re discovering Transformational elements in your own response to the Haitian earthquake, I’d love to hear about those, too.

About Pastor Foley

The Reverend Dr. Eric Foley is CEO and Co-Founder, with his wife Dr. Hyun Sook Foley, of Voice of the Martyrs Korea, supporting the work of persecuted Christians in North Korea and around the world and spreading their discipleship practices worldwide. He is also the International Ambassador for the International Christian Association, the global fellowship of Voice of the Martyrs sister ministries. Pastor Foley is a much sought after speaker, analyst, and project consultant on the North Korean underground church, North Korean defectors, and underground church discipleship. He and Dr. Foley oversee a far-flung staff across Asia that is working to help North Koreans and Christians everywhere grow to fullness in Christ. He earned the Doctor of Management at Case Western Reserve University's Weatherhead School of Management in Cleveland, Ohio.
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10 Responses to A Transformational response to tragedy and crisis, Part I

  1. I’m new at TG, but it seems to me that if someone turns to family and friends and plans a clothes drive or a collection that would go to the Red Cross, for example, is transformational.

    The person is touched by the trajedy and then turns around to his/her sphere of influence to plan and participate/engage in an activity that will make their commitment/contribution real and deeper than just texting $10.00 to the cause.


  2. Jon Hirst says:


    Thanks for sharing the blog post. As we have been interacting on this subject and several people have weighed in in various ways I wanted to synthesize and share a thought.

    When tragedy strikes it seems like there is a basic step of obedience to step out and give. This is in line with the Bible’s call to care for those in need. But simply stepping out is not enough.

    For it to be transformational we have to step out in initial obedience and then as Matt Bates from MIF said yesterday we have to ask the bigger questions about why a country like Haiti is struggling so and what are we called to do at the larger level of representing Jesus to the people of Haiti.

    If we give at the moment of tragedy and then forget about the people of Haiti we have not grown.

    It has been so interesting as I have been working with my kids about the Haiti tragedy. I have challenged them to tell their friends at school. My six year old and nine year old both did this. They came back and reported that they were able to tell kids that didn’t know about the tragedy. Now I’m trying to think through what my next step is with my kids to help them engage with the cause of caring for those in need at a deeper level. I’m still praying and seeking God about next steps.

  3. Matt Bates says:

    Marilyn McCord Adams with an interesting take on the problem of evil from a Christian perspective here: http://cdn2.libsyn.com/philosophybites/Marilyn_McCord_Adams.mp3?nvb=20100115162716&nva=20100116163716&t=0dc189885f8a139550d63

    Based on her position, a transformational(?) question that springs to mind is: how can we, like God, suffer with those who are suffering in this tragedy and resist the temptation to remain aloof? And is it possible that some gifts inoculate us from suffering and permit us to remain aloof?

    The main thrust of PEO is to coach champions into the fullness of the image of Christ; Adams’ take is that, though we can’t know why God permits evil, He is present in human sufferings. So whatever our response to Haiti, a transformational element must be that we take on the condition of the Haitians as our own, to share in the burden of suffering with them.

    The ttf model of fundraising works in part because it buffers us from suffering. We’re told by the nonprofit that we can remain in our current state as long as we give. The impulse to actually do something is subtly discouraged and eventually deadened because the nonprofit is acting on behalf of its donors.

  4. Terry says:

    Thanks for this post. I have been reading your blog and gathering information of how to be transformational in our ministry.

    The truths that you share really speak to me and this a concrete example for me. It was transformational for me.

    Thanks, too, for pointing me to Jon’s post. I had already started the process of giving in community. I am grateful for the other suggestions and have passed them on as well.

    Let’s continue to pray for and be involved in the efforts in Haiti.

  5. Jeff Goins says:

    Appreciate the questions being asked here, but I confess that the plethora of questions and answers in the blogosphere about Haiti.

    My prayer for the church is that we can get beyond conjecture and hypothesis and move into intentional, compassionate action to make a difference in the lives of the Haitians.

    I hope that’s not too critical of a response. May God bless this conversation and use it to provokes hands and feet to action.

    • EFoley says:

      Not too critical from my read of it, Jeff. My hope in raising the discussion is that we can think about how to get beyond massive amounts of initial donations that stack up with relief organizations that can’t spend them effectively and that come from donors whose donations mark the end of their involvement rather than the beginning of their engagement. Both situations, sadly, typify natural disaster fundraising scenarios, as is evidenced by each of the major natural disaster fundraising scenarios we’ve seen over the past three years.

  6. Jon Hirst says:

    Jeff, I agree with Eric. Your heart is exactly the point. If we give money and say we have done our part we have been anything but intentional. By looking at the broadest level of our response to include all the areas possible, we will find ourselves being much more Kingdom focused and having much more impact.

    I find myself asking how God wants me to grow as a believer as I search my heart for how to respond to this tragedy. That means how I teach my kids, how I give my money, what I challenge my sunday school class to do, and on and on.

    Let’s encourage everyone we can to grasp the bigger picture of response that grows us and produces real impact.

  7. Pingback: Links to Other Big Ideas: 1-20-10 « CauseShift

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