Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Unified in mission
I can't help but be amazed as I see The Salvation Army's response to the tragic bush-fires in Victoria that have claimed 200 lives and thousands of homes and displaced several thousand people last week.
Some estimates of the fire's speed was 124km and some estimates of the radiant heat before the fire was 1000 degrees. I met a few guys who said they watched (from a distance) the axles on their vehicles melt. It has been an incredible witness of a destructive power. And at the same time, in the midst of pain and tragedy there has emerged a generosity and fierce goodness that has responded with an abundance of love and grace. It's incredible.
The Salvation Army itself has already given well over a million dollars out to thousands of families to help them get started in the necessary preparations of rebuilding, restoring and renewing. Not to mention the thousands of firefighters we've fed and the resources we've also given - petrol cards, Kmart vouchers and goods that have been donated.
Everyone has pitched in - bureaucracy has been suspended for the urgency of the day - inter-departmental sharing of resources and personnel has not been the exception - it's been the norm.
I'm thinking it's an amazing thing when we are unified in mission.
This is the learning curve for me - this event is so clearly an emergency that everyone has put the bush-fire mission ahead of their own agendas. We understand that peacetime rules don't apply in this situation. Even our own schedules have been pushed aside - no unnecessary meetings - no long coffees or chats... we have an important work to do right now.
It got me thinking about the 2000 young people that sleep homeless every night in Australia - or about the tens of thousands foster kids without a decent home OR about the Asylum seekers who have fled similar disasters (or worse) and have been left to fend for themselves... human-trafficking survivors and those still suffering - I was thinking perhaps we could declare some other emergencies - organize ourselves so we are fixed and unified in mission and do it again.
If we responded to youth homelessness like we have the bush fires - we may just be able to end it! I really believe that.
It strikes me that we've all been learning from these fires. Learning about the frailty of life and things, the power of community - the gift of love - the excess of our normal lives and how impacting it is when we are unified in mission.