Current Page: Opinion | Sunday, January 13, 2013
Lesson From Haiti: Saving Lives in Times of Disaster

Lesson From Haiti: Saving Lives in Times of Disaster

We live in an era when disasters have been increasing in both frequency and impact. We saw – or maybe lived through – the impact of Superstorm Sandy and today we commemorate a deadly earthquake in Haiti.

All of this can strike fear in our hearts as we wonder what's next – and if we're in the path.

Rather than living in denial or fear, the most prudent step we can take in the U.S. and globally is to be prepared and thus save lives – not only your own, but the lives of those around you.

Maybe you feel like preparation is something that must be left to governments, city planners and others. This could not be further from the truth.

Small steps that you can take for your own household and neighborhood could have as great of an impact as any larger effort.

The interesting thing about what is termed "Disaster Risk Reduction" in the larger world of disaster relief is that it fits with the wisdom God has given us in His Word.

So how can lives be saved in the face of potential disasters?


The book of Proverbs is full of verses about God-honoring planning. While we must trust the Lord day-by-day, it is also clear that He has given us the capacity to plan ahead, while ultimately trusting in Him.

What is your plan for how you would respond to a disaster in your area? Does your family have a plan? Are you aware of the types of disasters your town or city is prone to?

Research has shown that the hardest thing for people to do when a disaster strikes is to make a decision. Assess potential disaster threats for you and your family and make decisions now about what you would do. This doesn't have to be an exercise filled with fear, but rather a good precautionary measure. For more on planning see

Help the Most Vulnerable

The plan that you make doesn't need to only focus on you and your family. I lead an organization that is focused on helping the most vulnerable globally when a disaster strikes. How can you help the most vulnerable in your neighborhood if a disaster were to strike?

Recently, Daniel Aldrich, a scholar who has studied disaster recovery has noted that the most crucial element for a community's successful recovery from a disaster is human networks – that is the ties between us as community members. This is true not only in the United States, but all over the world.

In areas where there are strong relationships, where neighbors go and help the infirm, where people look out for one another – those are the areas where survival rates are the highest.

As Christians, we already knew this – didn't we? God told us to love Him and love our neighbors. That's how we are designed to live, that's how we are designed to thrive and that's how we are designed to survive even the most difficult circumstances.

So, what can you do today to plan for your family's safety if a disaster were to occur? And what can you do to build stronger relationships in your community in obedience to God's call to love your neighbor – which can actually be a life-saving act.