Churches of Christ Disaster Relief

Jefferson Avenue Church of Christ
Churches of Christ Disaster Relief at Jefferson Avenue Church of Christ

In the early morning of Tuesday, March 3, 2020, an EF-4 tornado did devastating damage to the city of Cookeville, Tennessee. On the same night, several lesser tornados swept across middle Tennessee, including Nashville. We have discussed before the question of, “Where is God when disaster strikes?” That is where Churches of Christ Disaster Relief is involved.

When a need arises, God works through His people. One of the buildings that survived the hit was the one where the Jefferson Avenue Church of Christ meets in Cookeville. Within hours, their gymnasium became a relief center. Churches of Christ Disaster Relief Effort, Inc., with headquarters in Nashville, brought in truckloads of needed supplies for the hundreds of people who had lost their homes. Members of the Jefferson Avenue church came in to assist, even though they had also been affected by the storm. Area schools were closed, so teens, as well as others, showed up to help.

Before this tragedy happened, Rick Gilbert, deacon who serves as the church’s disaster relief coordinator, had taken groups of church members to Nashville to pack supplies for Churches of Christ Disaster Relief. Now they had a chance to see where those boxes go and how much they are needed. He said, “Now we see why we did what we did.”

On March 6, President Trump visited Cookeville, and Gilbert guided him on a tour of the relief center set up by the church. Gilbert said of the President, “He was touched. He was really touched.” President Trump was in the relief center for about 45 minutes, talking with people and even praying with them. The President said, “Even all of this—Churches of Christ—tremendous amounts of food and goods, and it all came within a matter of hours. So it’s a case study—a case study of what should be done and how it can be done. It’s Tennessee.”

More than that, Mr. President, it’s Christianity—God’s people following the example of Jesus.

You can read the report of this on

— Roland Earnst © 2020

Does God Cause Natural Disasters?

Does God Cause Natural Disasters?One of the struggles we all have is understanding why God allows disastrous events that cause massive destruction and suffering to humans. Atheists use this question as a club against faith, and it is perhaps their best weapon. The list of events that harm humans is huge – earthquakes, tornadoes, tsunamis, landslides, fires, floods, droughts, etc. At this time of the year, hurricanes are at the front of our awareness. Does God cause natural disasters to punish people?

If you have just seen a natural event take place that destroyed your home and killed a loved one, no rational explanation is going to be of any help. Our hearts go out to those of you who are trying to make sense of what seems to be a senseless disaster that has hurt them in ways that no one else can understand. We don’t want anyone to think that we have all the answers. If somehow we can remove ourselves from our own emotions, here are three things we need to understanding:

1) God does not cause disasters. The notion that God brings catastrophes upon people He doesn’t like, or people who violate His laws or commands is inconsistent with the nature of God. James 1:13 tells us clearly that God doesn’t tempt us in any way. The passage specifically deals with moral temptation, but verse 17 goes on to say that “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above and comes down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” God brings good things. Jealousy or vindictiveness is not a part of His nature.

2) Human stupidity in the face of natural processes is a significant cause of calamity. Hurricanes are a classic example of this. The Earth has zones of climate that are made functional by natural processes which create climate zones. The Hadley Cell explains these zones, with different zones creating tropical rainforests and deserts. Those zones are balanced by natural processes such as hurricanes that carry water into what would otherwise be a desert. Thirty-degree latitudes north and south would be deserts if it were not for hurricanes that bring massive amounts of water to recharge water supplies. In the United States, northern Florida and southern Georgia would be deserts with no water were it not for hurricanes. Humans ignoring this system and building in areas known to be vulnerable to hurricanes while removing natural barriers such as mangroves causes much of the suffering and death.

3) Human mismanagement of God’s creation due to greed and ignorance is a major cause of human suffering. Genesis 2:15 tells us that God gave humans the assignment to take care of “the garden, to dress it and keep it.” We are the caretakers of what God has created, but selfishness and greed have caused significant suffering and destruction. We all know that polluting the air, rivers, lakes, and now the ocean has led to cancer and now appears to be affecting Earth’s climate. We all understand that exploitative agriculture has led to fires, erosion, dust storms, and insect swarms. Scientific journals are full of studies showing how human mismanagement of what God has given us is leading and has led to disaster.

Does God cause natural disasters? The answer is “NO!” It isn’t God’s will that humans suffer from natural disasters, but God has never promised us that He will protect us from ourselves. What God has done is to build a base by which His servants can help those who are suffering. The Church has a responsibility to show God’s love and compassion for the hurting. Atheists need to pitch in and help clean up the mess, not try to blame God. (Read Matthew 25:31-40.)
— John N. Clayton © 2019