One of the saddest stories in the New Testament is found in Matthew 25:1-13. That story relates how ten virgins were waiting for the bridegroom to come so they could enjoy an amazing wedding feast. Five of those virgins had brought extra oil so that no matter when the bridegroom came, they would be ready to join in the festivities. The other five had not make preparations and instead were just hoping everything would work out in their favor. If you recall, the hour grew late, and when the bridegroom finally came, the five unprepared virgins had to run off to the store to buy more oil, while those who were prepared were able to enter into the party and join in the celebration. When the unprepared ladies finally returned, the door of opportunity was closed. They did not get to join in the festivities.
The reason I find this story sad is because all ten of the ladies knew the bridegroom was coming. They knew this was going to happen eventually, even though they did not know the exact moment. Clearly all ten had the ability and the resources to be prepared. All ten had lamps. All ten had some oil and the money to buy more. But only half of them actually took the time and energy to make adequate preparations so that no matter when the bridegroom came, they would be ready. The rest were unprepared, and once the opportunity passed, there was no way for the ones who were not prepared to get it back.
When I think of crisis type ministries like disaster relief or similar crisis type situations, this story comes to mind. It is not a question of IF a disaster or crisis will come, but WHEN. Sometimes disasters are spaced out over a long period of time. During those periods of calmness, it is easy to get complacent and relax in our preparations. But other times disasters come in groups, like the three hurricanes that recently hit the United States and its territory Puerto Rico, followed by the mass shooting in a mall and then a church. We know disasters are going to happen, even if we don’t know when. The only way to be adequately ready to respond is to already be prepared in advance. That is why training, in advance, is important. That is why having funding set aside and dedicated to crisis management is important. Otherwise the disaster comes and is gone before we have time to mobilize and finance the relief effort.
I am thankful that for people, and ministries like that have maintained a constant state of readiness. When the hurricanes hit, they were ready to go. When a mass shooting happened, they had trained trauma chaplains ready to respond. Regretfully, many Christians missed the chance to respond because they were not ready. But now is our chance to change that. The situations in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico are ongoing. So let’s get trained now so we can go. Another disaster or crisis will happen, and if we want to join in the relief efforts, we must be ready. Let’s be prepared so that we do not miss our opportunity to touch lives in the name of Christ when a disaster strikes.
Dr. Terry W. Dorsett has been a pastor, church planter, denominational leader and author in New England for more than 20 years. He is a happy husband, a proud father and adoring grandfather. He is a cancer survivor and believes that God works powerfully through times of suffering. He writes extensively and you can find all of his books at: