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3 ways Malaysian Christians can prepare to respond to floods and natural disasters

If you’re the pastor or leader of a Malaysian church, we invite you to be a part of the Malaysian Churches Crisis Response Database (click here), a joint effort between Christian disaster response NGO, Crisis Relief Services and Training (CREST) and Faithour. 

As the climate crisis changes weather patterns around the world, Malaysia has been facing natural disasters of increasing frequency and severity. In recent years, torrential rains and flash floods have become more common. In 2022 alone, FloodList has reported three floods and one landslide caused by heavy rain1 in Malaysia — disasters that took lives, displaced thousands of families and impacted livelihoods. 

Floods in Malaysia have grown more common in recent years. Image Source: CNA

Once a disaster strikes, our response has to be immediate

Disaster preparedness only works when it happens before a disaster occurs.

When disaster hits, it often comes without much warning. Our response has to be coordinated and immediate; this only happens if much of the preparation is done beforehand,” says Christian relief NGO Crisis Relief Services and Training (CREST) director, Rev Dr Ng Swee Ming. 

Natural disasters such as floods are not just deadly but also devastating. In an instant, a family can lose everything they’ve worked for, and now face an uncertain future.

As Christ-followers, we are called to serve those who fall into hardship (Deuteronomy 15:7-8) and throughout the Bible, God’s command to love the poor and vulnerable is clear. So how can we respond to God’s call wisely and effectively?

How can Malaysian Christians respond to immediate needs following a disaster? Source: CREST Malaysia

How can Malaysian Christians be better prepared to respond in times of disaster?

To respond effectively, we must be prepared. Here are ways local churches in Malaysia can position themselves to support those affected (including their own congregations) and assist relief efforts in times of disaster. 

Join the Malaysian Churches Crisis Response Database 

A joint effort by CREST and Faithour, the database is a first step to map available resources and manpower within the Malaysian Church so that NGOs such as CREST are able to coordinate more effective responses. You can register as a church or an individual. 

Get trained for crisis and disaster response 

In the immediate aftermath of a disaster such as a flood or earthquake, a coordinated response is critical in getting help to families and communities affected. Getting trained as a volunteer means that you can hit the ground running, be efficient with your tasks, anticipate needs and assist the coordinating teams more effectively. 

If your church is within a disaster-prone area, it may be helpful to have at least one or two members trained in disaster response so that they can take the lead in relief efforts and act as liaisons to communicate needs and channel resources. You can also organise awareness sessions for your church conducted by faith-based relief NGOs such as CREST.

You can learn more about volunteering and training workshops offered by CREST here.

Getting trained in disaster management and response will pay off in the future. Source: CREST Malaysia

What resources and needs do you have?

If your church or home is within a disaster-prone area, what immediate support would you need when a disaster strikes? This could be temporary shelter or food and supplies for B40 families in your congregation. And if your home or church is not in a disaster-prone area, what support would you be able to offer to other churches or communities affected? 

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

Galatians 6:2

Taking note and identifying potential needs as well as resources can help you to be better prepared in managing and responding to a disaster. Resources could include finance, manpower, heavy-duty vehicles or boats and even storage space. 

Think about what resources you can offer: storage space, dry supplies, transportation. Source: CREST Malaysia

There’s no time like the present. When a disaster strikes, it’s often too late. 

Every opportunity to serve others is a chance to show God’s love in a broken world. As Christians, this means being prepared to respond whenever the need arises.

Let’s rise up in faith and unity, reaching out to support fellow believers and others around us by meeting their needs.

They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

Matthew 25:44-45

1. FloodList – Malaysia, 2022

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