Ed Stetzer Interviews Dr. Jamie Aten on the Disaster Ministry Conference

Ed: What’s can attendees expect from HDI’s Disaster Ministry Conference?

Jamie: The Disaster Ministry Conference will equip church and lay leaders to prepare and care for small localized crises to large national events. When most people hear the word “disaster” they often mentally pictures natural disasters, acts of terrorism, and mass shootings. Our conference will not only address these sorts of topics, but also show how disasters are related to pressing issues like the refugee crisis and human trafficking.

In addition to learning from our keynote speakers—who come from a wide range of fields and experiences and include Eugene Cho, Richard Stearns, Jo Anne Lyon, Marcus Coleman, Emily Gray, Miriam Burnett, Kent Annan, and both you and me—we will also have 16 breakout sessions divided into Disaster, Refugee, Anti-Human Trafficking, and Development Ministry Tracks led by experts in each field.

One of the greatest strengths of this conference is its ability to bring together people from different worlds. We’ll have pastors, nonprofit leaders, FEMA officials, emergency management professionals, international humanitarian aid workers, anti-human trafficking leaders, and refugee advocates together in one place to explore best practices for helping and collaborating.

My hope is that people will leave the Disaster Ministry Conference with a strong sense of the great need that is in the world and the tools and connections to respond in their church, their community, and around the globe.

Ed: What does this year’s theme—“Do Justice. Love Mercy. Walk Humbly.”—have to do with disasters and humanitarian crises? Why is this important for people engaging in this work?

Jamie: At HDI, we point to this call in Micah 6:8 as the foundation of the work we do. Disasters are a biblical justice issue because they expose and exacerbate inequalities already present in a community. We also believe Christians and churches are called to serve the most vulnerable—and where there is a disaster there is vulnerability.

In this midst of such destruction and loss, it sometimes feels like justice is too far from our reach, but the command to “do justice” assure us that our hope in God’s promise will not be disappointed, and reminds us that we have an active role to play in the bringing about of God’s justice on this earth.

The call to “love mercy” grounds this in a relational truth that is essential to this kind of work. And the final words—“walk humbly”—are often the most overlooked and yet I believe they may be the most important. Swooping in to volunteer for the wrong reasons, like wanting to be a hero, is more likely to cause harm than help. Scripture is clear that humility is essential to service.

Humility helps us be more other-oriented and more open to hearing what sort of help survivors actually need. We need more Christians ready to help amidst disasters with humble hearts and hands.

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Source: Christianity Today