“Prepared and Ready“
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. — Jeremiah 29:11 NIV
Porque yo sé muy bien los planes que tengo para ustedes —afirma el Señor —, planes de bienestar y no de calamidad, a fin de darles un futuro y una esperanza. — Jeremías 29:11 NVI
When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” — John 11:43-44 NIV
Dicho esto, gritó con todas sus fuerzas: —¡Lázaro, sal fuera! El muerto salió, con vendas en las manos y en los pies, y el rostro cubierto con un sudario. —Quítenle las vendas y dejen que se vaya —les dijo Jesús. — Juan 11:43-44 NVI
It could be said that hurricanes and I come together. My parents brought me home from the hospital the day Hurricane Hazel hit North Carolina. My daddy was in the National Guard, which meant that when a hurricane was coming—he would be activated for duty. He would not be home for weeks sometimes after the storm. With his being gone, someone had to help mom with the four younger children. It could be said that hurricane preparedness/readiness was a large part of my upbringing.
I grew up with a plan; everyone had a part to play in its fulfillment. Each of us five children had duties to fulfill so that there was peace and harmony in the house, at least as much as there can be with five children. As a parent/grandparent and former EMT, I learned and have trained my children/grandchildren in preparedness/readiness. The biggest key to success in all of this is to have a plan that is clear, easy to communicate (especially for children), and have a role for each person to play according to their age and ability in carrying out the plan.
Hurricane Florence was the first hurricane that my youngest grandchild has experienced without being with me. As long as her mom kept her busy with little tasks and board games during the waiting, she was fine. When she was not occupied, the anxiety and fear would rise and she would cry and wring her hands. Nobody likes for her to cry.
So, what does this have to do with immigrant children in the hurricane zone in NC and the passage from John? I’ll tell you. In the passage from John, Jesus has called Lazarus back to life and called him out of the tomb; but Jesus does not remove the grave clothes. No, He tells the others, “them” to free him. To me, this reads invitation. Jesus was inviting “them” to join in. It’s almost as if He was saying, “I’ve raised him back to life, now you free him.” I see an invitation to us.
With today’s technology, a storm can be followed for weeks with projected forecasts and probable paths. The closer the storm gets to us, the more precise the projections become. It doesn’t take long to learn about a cone of uncertainty. So, what if we paid attention to the invitation from Jesus before the storm? What if there was a way to prepare for service? What if that way to serve could be done by anyone?
There is a way. We have to put hands and feet to our prayers. We begin by making a plan well ahead of the storm, well ahead of hurricane season. We get our family, our churches and possibly our friends prepared. We gather supplies, non-perishable food items, etc. together ahead of time. I know, this is time consuming; yet, it will save time later. When we have taken care of this, the next step becomes available.
That next step involves stepping out of our comfort zones, leaving our houses to go to the tomb as it were, the places where we can see the need of the immigrant child in the hurricane zone. It’s places like Wal-Mart, Food Lion, Costco, Harris Teeter, Lowe’s, the local hardware store, the tiendas. What will we see there? Mamas buying supplies with children clinging to skirts, shirt-tails or carts. Mamas anxiously eyeing the screen as the supplies are scanned, then looking at the cash in their hands. What will we hear? Sometimes, crying; sometimes little voices saying “¡Mamá, está lloviendo!” “Mom, it’s raining!”
Can we begin to imagine how frightening all of this could be? A storm is coming, the language is difficult to learn and hard to understand. There is fear about the house/trailer. Will it withstand the wind? Will the roof leak? Will there be flooding? Where will we go if we have to evacuate? What if we lose everything again? Who will help us? Let’s be honest, we ask those same questions and we should know the answers.
There are a multitude of things that we can do to put hands and feet to our prayers, to answer the invitation. Information in Spanish is available for free from many different sources. Contact can be made with Emergency Management in your county or the state office. Before hurricane season arrives again, this information can be gathered and distributed in the areas mentioned before.
A hygiene kit is an easy thing to make. A gathering of family, friends or church groups could be arranged to buy and/or package these so that they are ready when needed. Children’s books in Spanish or that are bi-lingual could be gathered along with board games to take to a local shelter when the need arises.
These are only two of many ideas that could be employed to serve, to fulfill the invitation. We may not know when or where a hurricane may strike eastern NC again, but we know that one is coming. May we prepare even now, to one of “them” that chooses to serve.
Prayer: Gracious God, thank you for your plan for our lives. Thank you for giving us courage to step out of our comfort zones and respond to your invitation of service. Thank you for breaking our hearts for what breaks yours. Thank you for helping us be one of “them”. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.
— Joan Fischer