; charset=UTF-8" /> A Community Comes Together – Samoan Disaster Response : Connecting Voices
Free hacker tools

A Community Comes Together – Samoan Disaster Response

     Anyone who has spent time with members of our Conference’s Samoan churches knows they are the embodiment of the word “community.”  Their culture is so rich in faith and mutual support that it is hard for a Samoan to understand people who do not belong to a faith community.  It is unheard of for a Samoan from the islands not to be part of a church. 

     What could bring such a close-knit group even closer?  On Tuesday, September 29th a magnitude 8.3 earthquake struck the Pacific near the Islands of Samoa and American Samoa, triggering a series of tsunamis that flooded the islands and took at least 170 lives. 

     With a Samoan community in Southern California larger than that of Samoa, no one here was left unaffected.  Everyone knows of friends or family members who were lost.  In addition to the loss of life is the reality of the situation in Samoa now.  Many villages were completely washed away.  Debris covers land that once held homes.  The water system has been contaminated.  Electricity has been lost.

     People committed to one another and known for their generosity rise up to do what they do best:  bless those in need.  Spearheaded by the Southern California Nevada Conference Samoan Ministries Table, a relief effort got underway immediately.  The response has been overwhelming.  Local merchants brought pallets of food, water and clothing to support a community that has supported them.  People from all over Southern California brought items their churches collected.  Fellow UCC churches helped pack and provide meals for volunteer workers.

     The Samoan churches pulled together to receive, sort and package donated items in preparation for shipment to Samoa.  The elders of the community worked with the government and religious leaders in Samoa and their local and federal government agencies here in the U.S. to find a way to get their friends and family members what they need.

     Samoan Churches from all around Sothern California pulled together to make the process neat and orderly.  They fellowshiped together, worked together, ate together and prayed and mourned together.  Entire youth groups arrived to sort and pack.  Samoan churches from other denominations and other states worked alongside to increase the needed supplies.

     Government officials took note of the work their constituents were doing and began the process of working with FEMA and other government agencies to find a way to transport all that was collected.  As of just a few days ago, this community had collected, sorted and packaged over 400 pallets of food water and clothing.

     I have spent time with this community and am overwhelmed by what is common to them.  I am in awe of their faith, their generosity, their sacrifice of time and energy and the joy and exuberance with which they serve together for the benefit of their homeland.  Even as challenges arose with coordinating the shipments, the community rose up and publicly announced they trust God, their elders and pastors and the government to work out the details.  They will continue to work to provide what is needed.

     Our United Church of Christ Global Sharing of Resources office has been helpful in addressing this disaster.  They have noted that ordinarily gathering clothing and other material items is not the most efficient way of helping the people in disaster areas.  Financial donations to the Pacific Disaster Relief allow Wider Church Ministries to coordinate their efforts with FEMA and other charitable agencies attempting to meet the needs of the people in Samoa, American Samoa, Tonga, the Philippines and Indonesia.  Yet, it is recognized that simply giving cash is not the Samoan culture’s way of meeting the needs of their people.  Cultural tradition requires the elders to arrive in Samoa bearing gifts as a sign of their commitment to the people and to God’s calling on their life to be shepherds of the community.  I understand from a practical point of view that providing financial resources to those agencies who are best equipped to meet the needs of the people in the disaster area is most efficient.  What the Samoan community has taught me is a lesson in community; of coming together and working side-by-side in joy for a common cause.

     FEMA, Wider Church Ministries and other charitable agencies, as well asthe local elders will all play a roll in the rebuilding of Samoa.  I believe that through all of these efforts, God is blessing the people of Samoa, those who give financially and those who have joined together to provide assistance.
How might you be blessed?

Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!

Spam protection by WP Captcha-Free