[image from okumc.org]

A major tornado hit Moore Oklahoma, a suburb of Oklahoma City yesterday. As of this writing, 24 people have died, including 9 children. I cannot image the pain that the family and friends of those who have died are experiencing. And yet, looking at pictures of the area – particularly the two elementary schools that were destroyed – I can’t help but think that the loss of life could have been much worse.

Yesterday’s events have hit me particularly hard because these are my people. Most of my family and many friends live in Oklahoma. My parents, my wife’s parents, and my brother all live in Oklahoma. And many of them live quite close to the damage. I am also a clergy member of the Oklahoma Annual Conference. My home church is in the community next to Moore. I talked to several people yesterday about what was happening. It was a blessing to feel connected to colleagues in ministry in Oklahoma. But it was also really hard. I am serving in extension ministry as a professor at Seattle Pacific Seminary. It is hard to be so far away and feel helpless. My heart is breaking for Oklahoma.

You may be like me, feeling compassion and connection to this community through the news coverage, but also detached by your physical distance from Moore Oklahoma. I would like to ask you to consider joining me in doing two concrete things that will make a difference. First, pray. Pray a lot. Pray for the specific things that come to mind as you think about what this community is going through. Pray for families who have lost loved ones. Pray for families who are searching and hoping. Pray for the injured. Pray for rescue workers, for those who have lost their homes. Please pray. Second, give money. People who work for disaster relief agencies seem to be united that money is the best thing to give in the immediate aftermath of a natural disaster like this. I will be giving to The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), because of their track record with disaster relief and because all of the overhead for UMCOR is covered through other giving. This means that 100% of what you give will be directed to helping the people who most need help right now. UMCOR has already set up a specific page for giving for the Oklahoma tornadoes. Click here to donate to tornado recover efforts through UMCOR.

Please pray and give generously.