In March this year, Mozambique was hit by Cyclone Idai, one of the worst tropical cyclones on record to affect Africa. Just six weeks later it was struck by an even stronger storm, Cyclone Kenneth. “The villages look like they’ve been run over by bulldozers!” That is how a UN observer described the scenes from the air after the second cyclone hit. It's the first time in recorded history that two severe tropical cyclones have hit Mozambique in the same cyclone season.

Families-huddle-together-on-their-rooves-to-escape-the-raging-flood-after-Cyclone-Idai.jpgFamilies huddle together on their rooves to escape the raging flood after Cyclone Idai.

When disasters like these strike, we can find ourselves feeling overwhelmed and disheartened by the scale of destruction and human suffering. Read on to hear a biblical perspective of how we as Christians can view and respond to the world's worst disasters.

How can we view this?

Restore is based on the biblical belief that we are called to respond with compassion to those in need and that we have a duty to seek peace in this world. Often, this can seem like a discouraging and overwhelming mission – but we believe that we are called to work towards the redemption of this world here and now. We also believe that ultimately, we will see redemption completed through Jesus.

Why do we respond?

Sadly, many of these disasters never make our news. This makes it hard for the humanitarian community to raise the funds it needs to respond to the crises. As a result, the humanitarian community is drastically underfunded. In the face of such overwhelming need, we believe that a compassionate response is imperative. In each of these countries, individuals and families no different to you and me, are suffering through no fault of their own. Put yourself in their shoes – you’d be screaming out for the world to know your suffering and do something about it. We want to respond to that silent scream.

A biblical perspective on disasters and conflict

There is a key theme that runs through scripture. It’s captured in the Hebrew word, ‘Shalom.’ Shalom conveys wholeness, completeness, restoration, healing, and redemption. Shalom is a realisation of creation as God intends it.

Shalom is often translated as ‘peace’ but the peace it talks of is much more than how we commonly understand that word - as an absence of violence. Instead, Shalom refers to what we see of creation in Genesis 1 and 2. It is also something we see personified in Jesus through the Resurrection. And the end of the book of Revelation shows us Shalom in word pictures: where all relationships between humankind, creation, and the triune God are whole and complete – unity is fully embraced. Throughout scripture, God had individuals and communities that he compelled towards living out Shalom. The intent was that they would be living examples of his Shalom and that they would extend it into the world where brokenness existed. In the New Testament, that community is the Church. We are tasked to embody Shalom and to extend it, connecting with what God is already doing to restore creation to himself.

Disasters have consequences that cause brokenness and destruction. And often, they result from it. Understanding that we’re called to work towards Shalom, means that we seek to actively participate in healing and restoration. We also work for wholeness and strength within communities. That means they can respond to disasters in more resilient ways, and can help prevent human-made conflicts from occurring in the first place.


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