We saw the church buses in New Orleans evacuating the victims of Katrina and the floods. They were the first volunteers there before the government brought in transportation. Talk about first responders! It is evident that there was an overwhelming response of church people, not only in the MS, AL, LA tri-state area, but from all over the country. Churches of all denominations have collectively given millions to the rescue effort. Churches have sent teams to assist in the disaster relief. Church people have opened their homes to house victims and families. They are all doing this from the bottom of their hearts. They are doing this out of compassion. They are doing this to extend love and warmth to their fellow man. Without a doubt, people of faith are joining the rest of their countrymen and helping to make a tangible difference. Dear people who love God and also people are there on site at hundreds of shelters getting food, clothes, water etc. Pastors and spiritual leaders are there to give guidance, comfort, prayer and support. It's so good to see God's people doing God's work at such a critical time. I applaud the people of faith and anyone who is running to the rescue of these victims of Katrina by any means necessary. Goodness is still here.
Now there are atheists out there that take issue with some of this activity. They are saying that these victims need food and water, not preaching. Well I have a couple of thoughts on that. First of all the pastors and chaplains with their Bible in hand seemed to be a welcomed presence as many of the victims are gathering for church services in the shelters. It should be noted that many of the people in the south are people of faith. I don't see the victims objecting to their presence as much as I did an atheist. Secondly, our faith seems to be such a motivating factor in this effort. Jesus said in the gospels, "love your neighbor as yourself." This imperative is what drives us. Can it be so bad that we find a spiritual reason to be the foundation as to why we reach out to people?
On the other hand, atheism (no belief in God or a god) as a belief system holds that we are to seek self-gratification, aim to meet only our own needs and evolve from previous life forms in a system of survival of the fittest. Atheistic philosophy (not necessarily atheist people) dictates by it's own admission that if people can't survive on their own, then it's "nature's way". Christians can reconcile their good acts by their philosophy. Atheists cannot. This brings me to an interesting point. There are people that have no belief in a god but are really good people. There is something in all of us, atheist, agnostic or believer, that just has to respond to that kind of human suffering. It transcends humanity and has to come from somewhere.
I wonder why it is that atheists don't believe. I wonder why some are so hostile to the concept of God being involved in anything. I think it would behoove Christians to take a step back and do as Steven Covey writes in the "7 Habits of Highly Effective People" to, "seek to understand first then be understood." Being people of reconciliation is more in line with what Jesus taught than being divisive. I might not understand why they don't believe in God but I don't want to be counted as another reason because of my attitudes or behaviors toward someone!
Anyway, the fact is that there are people out there, atheist, Christian or whatever faith that are working hard to bridge gaps, repair breaches and assist the suffering. Instead of harping on who should or shouldn't be doing whatever in the name of whoever, let's open our hearts, walets and whatever else we can do to end this and be good people getting it done. Whether atheist, agnostic or Christian, I think Clara Barton, the founder of the Red Cross summed it up best. "You must never so much as think whether you like it or not, whether it is bearable or not; you must never think of anything except the need, and how to meet it."