By Jessica Nguyen
The news coming from Nepal is truly horrifying. An earthquake that started out small has now engulfed entire cities in tragedy, and thousands are feared dead. It is distressing that the poor keep bearing the brunt of nature's fury, and many in the faith community ask why? Why do the poor suffer and what can we do to help our brothers and sisters in need?
If there is anything positive that can come out of large-scale disasters like an earthquake or hurricane, it is the response we see in the aftermath. While governments do much, interfaith communities often do a lot more. As people of faith we are not bound by politics or economics. There are several ways in which we step up and involve ourselves:
Search Google for Nepal earthquake and faith, and you will see a ton of articles about various religious and interfaith groups who have immediately gone to help. Doctors and other medical personnel, those proficient in the local language, all can help the efforts in a very real way. Others serve by working online, helping to guide emergency volunteers or those seeking missing loved ones.
Everybody cannot run to a disaster area to volunteer, but everyone can donate other types of resources for the relief efforts. In cases like Nepal, monetary donations are the best and most useful. Charity Navigator has the listing of groups seeking donations, many of whom are interfaith groups. In other cases, resources such as tools, medical supplies and food may be equally important donations. Faith communities are often in the forefront of these collection efforts.
Religious teachings regarding helping one's neighbor are important at all times, but critical in disaster situations such as the earthquake. Churches, temples and mosques are talking to their congregations about their specific teachings and training their adherents about their duty to participate in relief efforts in whatever way is possible. In this way, people of faith are prepared not just for the current disaster but future ones as well.
Last but not the least, an interfaith response includes prayer. People of faith often resort to prayer in times of sadness and tragedy, and see have seen instances of prayer vigils and interfaith prayer events being held for the victims of earthquakes and other disasters. Like other methods, prayer is another way we can all come together and do something positive in response.
Jessica Nguyen is a former student of the Fort Bend Independent School District who plans to purse a career in interfaith studies. The views expressed in this post are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of Interfaith Houston.