When natural disaster inevitably strikes, my job takes me into the chaos and destruction that most people choose to evacuate and avoid. I’ve been working for a federal disaster relief agency for six years now and the crushing reality of disaster still devastates me.
Somedays, I wonder why God called me into a job that’s physically, emotionally, and spiritually so hard and heavy. I live in hotels for months at a time, which keeps me away from my family for most of the year. I stay prepared to go wherever disaster strikes with little to no warning in advance. I work with complex logistics in high stakes, timely situations. Making a mistake is not an option, as lives depend on the work I do. I serve people who are suffering, grieving what’s been lost, and facing the future without hope.
In those moments I ask God, “why?,” He reminds me of Jesus’ command in Matthew 16:24:
“Then Jesus said to His disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”
Following Jesus’ example encourages and challenges me on the hard days. Jesus pursued the people that most avoided, like the demon-possessed man in Mark 5, and the woman with the issue of blood in Luke 8. Jesus traveled from city to village, leaving His family and hometown, to love, serve, teach, and heal. He was the ultimate disaster relief plan, through His death on the Cross that defeated the grave, and His resurrection three days later that offered salvation to all who believe. From an overflow of love, Jesus calls us to love our neighbor as ourselves, which fuels my passion each day.
If you asked me what I believed God’s plans were for me, disaster relief would have never crossed my mind. I attended Bible college, studied Christian ministry, became an ordained minister, and had a job secured in my hometown as a Children’s Pastor. My plan was to sing Vacation Bible School songs, teach Bible stories in creative ways, and share the love of Jesus with kids.
Although my life looks radically different than I expected, I am confident that God has called me here. While working for a federal agency, I’ve been able to perform weddings, pray with families of coworkers as they take their final breaths, and introduce people to Jesus that I never would have met otherwise.
I want to encourage you to challenge your sense of comfort, ask yourself what the example of Jesus calls you to do, and trust that God will provide what you need for the journey.