One thing that Pentecostals are known for is our commitment to prayer and healing. Well, both are desperately needed in Texas now as hurricane Harvey continues to affect millions of lives. Before reflecting on the situation in Texas, I wanted to at least provide you with a way to help. Though it is not exhaustive, this link gives you a great starting point.
We live in a very polarizing world. As recent events have shown, there is very little that can unite us all. That is, except for natural phenomena, whether it is an eclipse that invites us to remember our position in the universe or a natural disaster that reminds us that we are not as in control as we’d like.
In the end, we are all human beings in need of God’s grace and love. That is not meant to say that we should not strive to make things better in this world, because we clearly should. But it does mean that as Pentecostals––that is, people who believe in the Spirit’s active presence in the world––we should once again pray for God’s grace, help, blessing, peace, provision, hope, love, and healing for all people.
In our world, which is ravished by oppression and hatred, we can reenter Pentecostal prayer of expectation for others. We do not need to know the background of the victims in Texas. We don’t even need to make sure we align with other Christians’ beliefs and ideas, let alone people from other faiths and no faith at all, before we join with them in prayer, giving, and service. What we need to know is that we serve a God who loves us and who desires to bring life to all.
Therefore, we pray for Texas with our words and with our lives (financial, physical, etc.). We unite with our neighbors, friends, and family to humbly approach God as God’s beloved.
We also unite together to allow space for real questions, like why? Why would God allow this to happen? There are no easy answers to that question, particularly for our brothers and sisters who are in Texas. From afar, I can easily theologize and environmentalize a reason. But in the midst of pain, our questions are best considered through warm hugs that intimately and lovingly embrace people with different ideologies, community contemplation that brings a diverse group of people together in reflection, and active listening that does not allow preconceived ideas to distract us from truly hearing what the other is saying. In other words, we become less and less so that Christ can become more and more––more healing, more love, more comfort.
Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. (Romans 12:15)
I do not believe God sent this hurricane, just like God didn’t send hurricane Katrina, regardless of what Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell spewed. And so instead of proffering a reason for the hurricane, which will inevitably be lacking, I want to suggest that this is an opportunity.
Allow me to clarify: while questioning is incredibly important, we mustn’t allow it to distract us or derail us from the opportunity to continue responding to the needs of the world. Christianity is, in other words, fundamentally a participatory faith.
The response I’m suggesting is uncreative and unphilosophical. It is simply this:
we respond by loving our neighbors as ourselves.
This uncomplicated axiom contains a wealth of resources for helping our Texas family. We pray for them in the same manner we pray for ourselves. If you’re like most Christians, that would be an enormous amount of prayers! We also give physically and financially to their need in the same way we give to our own.
Furthermore, we respond by repenting of our tendency to forget that we live in a world filled with hurting and oppressed people, and by committing to a renewed posture of prayer and healing for all.
We are invited to respond in the way of Jesus: to love our neighbors as ourselves. My prayer is that we will respond to this call to action for our Texas brothers and sisters, and that we will allow this moment to remind us that we are a part of a world that needs Spirit-filled believers to stand up for the millions of people who are hurting and abused.
May God’s hand of mercy rest on Texas and the many other places around the world that are suffering from flooding, storms, drought, water and food shortages, and disease. And may we answer the call to be the body of Christ, spiritually praying for others and physically working to restore and redeem the broken. Amen.
Note from the Editorial Team: Engaged Pentecostalism is a community that values open dialogue and respectful engagement from different perspectives. The views expressed above are the author's own and do not reflect those of every part of the community.