The Christian Professional
The receding waters of the 2005 tsunami and hurricane disasters left behind not only tremendous devastation but newfound evidence of the capacity of concerned people to help their fellow man like never before. Within days of the natural disasters, the Western world responded with unprecedented giving totaling billions of dollars.
Perhaps the most crucial gift came from professionals who volunteered their time and skills, making immediate relief possible to millions. The greatest number of these professionals came from the Christian community, providing evidence of God’s love at work in this often harsh world. An unintended result of the selfless sacrifice of these Christian volunteers was the natural reflection of the great truth that there is a personal God who cares. These men in motion obviously believe faith is better shown than spoken.
If there is a silver lining in the clouds of 2005’s great tragedies, it is that when the world cried, Christians responded with love in action. The beautiful revelation of last year’s giving is that today’s world, globalized and technologically advanced, provides a historically unique opportunity for the church to illuminate God’s love to people at their point of need. The Christian professional who volunteers for humanitarian service is a key end-time courier of the essence of the gospel of Jesus.
Compassion Services International (CSI) is a non-profit private volunteer organization originated by the United Pentecostal Church International. CSI organizes and facilitates disaster relief and humanitarian aid projects around the world, and it knows well the value of the Christian professional who volunteers his time. Last year CSI facilitated disaster relief and aid projects that included many Pentecostal medical professionals.
As well as maintaining full-time primary health care clinics in countries such as El Salvador and Pakistan, CSI organized ten medical mission trips in 2005 via its Mercy Medical Network program. Also, days after the Asian tsunami, CSI’s assessment team, including two medical professionals, toured the country of Sri Lanka, giving relief and desperately needed medical assistance in tsunami refugee camps and villages while developing a strategic plan for long-term relief.
The subsequent relief plan and funds raised by CSI produced months of ongoing medical and reconstruction support. USA and Asian Pentecostal medical professionals from CSI’s Mercy Medical Network volunteered and maintained the long-term medical relief project.
Although CSI works primarily abroad, many Pentecostal professionals volunteered to organize Katrina relief operations on the U.S. Gulf Coast. In less than two months over 350 tons of water, food, first aid kits, personal hygiene kits, bedding, clothing, baby supplies, and nursing home supplies were facilitated through six secondary staging areas on the coast and a primary distribution center in Jackson, Mississippi. A mobile medical unit staffed by a revolving group of more than thirty Pentecostal medical professionals administered vaccines such as tetanus and Hepatitis A, established a temporary mobile pharmacy, and helped evacuate Gulf Coast nursing home residents. More than seventy-five volunteer construction contractors and laborers helped remove debris and render pre-construction relief work.
After telling the “Good Samaritan” allegory, Jesus clarified the mission of love to his disciples by stating simply, “Go and do likewise.” In Matthew he spoke of loving the outcast as the only option for believers:
Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what’s coming to you in this kingdom. It’s been ready for you since the world’s foundation. And here’s why: I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me a drink, I was homeless and you gave me a room, I was shivering and you gave me clothes, I was sick and you stopped to visit, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we…?’ Then the King will say, ‘…Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me’ (Matthew 25:34-36 The Message).
As always God provides the opportunity for believers to fulfill His Scripture. Could it be that catastrophes and poverty on such a grand scale around the world are providing a proving ground for the church’s love and a forum for God’s gospel of saving grace? Millions of people globally suffer from the effects of poverty. Conditions are often worsened by wars and natural disasters leading to human tragedies such as the homelessness of refugees, premature death because of a lack of basic health care, and even starvation. While the issues surrounding each community’s calamity are often complex and unique, there is always a fundamental need for loving assistance from the global community.
Many humanitarian aid organizations offer opportunities for professionals to volunteer their services. It is generally understood that the professional is volunteering a crucial service to the relief work, and therefore, it need not be given at the sacrifice of his career or personal financial stability. Organizations like Compassion Services International almost exclusively focus on short-term opportunities for which professionals can volunteer. For the Christian professional who is looking for a forum in which to contribute, he can contact CSI via its Web site www.compassionservices.org or by calling 314-805-4438.
The prayer for 2006 is for more Pentecostal professionals to awake to the understanding of the timeliness of their education and skill as a powerful communicator of the message of God’s kingdom.
- Andrew Tennyson serves as the international liaison officer for Compassion Services International (CSI) of the United Pentecostal Church International.