Humanitarian 101: Disaster Relief

Providing Help and Hope When Disaster Strikes

By Amanda DeWitt

Humanitarian 101: Disaster Relief

Raging waves tear through colorful terra cotta homes dotting a rural coastal village — survivors wonder how they will ever rebuild. A nearly nuclear-sized explosion shakes a city, instantly making thousands homeless.

When crises strike people need immediate help — and hope. Disaster relief focuses on providing suffering people with critical aid at lifesaving speed, responding to the unique needs of victims in the toughest places.

When Time Is of the Essence

In times of crisis people’s safety depends on the speed of our response. The Unto® disaster response team provides a swift assessment to determine an effective response to victims of natural disaster, such as providing food, water, temporary shelter, and other resources.

When hurricanes wash away homes, temporary shelters shield families from the elements. When disaster destroys supply chains, meals provide families with the essential nutrition they need to survive. When landslides pollute water sources, water filters provide safe, clean water and protect communities from deadly waterborne illnesses.

In every crisis time is of the essence — and a timely, effective response saves lives.

When Creative Strategies Are Required

To rush aid into disaster-stricken areas, creative strategies are often needed. Even when supply chains break down, effective distribution is essential for delivering lifesaving supplies.

At Unto our extensive network of on-the-ground staff members provides a unique opportunity to deliver aid and share hope. As the humanitarian ministry of Cru®, our partners work in more than 190 countries around the world. When disaster strikes our partners are mobilized and ready to serve.

Because our local staff teams work in virtually every country around the globe, we are able to employ creative strategies that still get aid into tough places even when supply chain disruptions, economic crises, war, and other factors hamper many organizations’ efforts. Together with local staff members, we are able to meet people’s physical needs, and at the right time, share the hope of Jesus.

When Rebuilding Takes Time

Disasters can strike in a matter of minutes. But rebuilding often takes years.

The most effective disaster relief initiatives meet people’s immediate needs. Then they continue walking alongside individuals until as they rebuild their lives.

At Unto we partner with local staff teams to ensure people’s needs are met in the wake of disaster by providing the emergency relief people need to survive. We also work to build long-term relationships and meet needs long after the initial crisis is over. Our goal is to see communities revitalized and restored.

One way Unto provides ongoing support is by partnering with Cru campus and student ministries to help with cleanup and rebuilding efforts. Every year teams of students from around the United States serve families hit by natural disasters. They clear debris. They help rebuild homes, schools, and churches. And they talk with people about the hope of Jesus.

After disaster relief teams go home, local partners continue their work. They ensure people’s physical and spiritual needs are met until the process is complete — helping them build an even better, brighter future than before.

We cannot stop disasters from happening. But we can be ready to help when crises strike. Will you give, pray, or go?

Want to learn more about being a humanitarian?

People around the world experience suffering, and we wonder how to help change that. But the Bible assures us that God is constantly at work, drawing people to Himself, not in spite of disaster, conflict, and poverty, but even in and through those situations. Our Humanitarian 101: A 7-Day Devotional journal offers seven devotionals designed to help you consider suffering and how you can make a difference.

Humanitarian 101: A 7-Day Devotional

Published March 1, 2021


Amanda is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in Gift for Leadership, Kindred Spirit, and Christianity Today publications. She holds a M.A. in Media and Communication from Dallas Theological Seminary.