I seldom contribute to relief funds when natural disasters hit South Korea even though it’s my mother country. It’s not that I’m indifferent to disaster victims or stingy with money. In fact, when I was in middle school in Korea, I once participated in collecting money for flood victims. A huge typhoon hit the southern provinces of South Korea and many people lost their houses and possessions. Two friends of mine and I decided to collect money for the flood victims by knocking on the doors of merchant shops near our school. The fact that we were youths in our student uniforms must have put shop owners in a generous frame of mind and we were able to collect a substantial amount of money. We delivered it to a newspaper which was running a campaign to help flood victims. They took a picture and ran a short article about us, making us celebrities for a day.
I’m hesitant to give now because I believe that helping disaster victims is not a job for citizens but one for the government. South Korea is now economically strong. I feel that the government should no longer rely on private citizens to help disaster victims.
When disasters hit Korea, the newspapers usually lead the way in collecting relief money. Korean language newspapers in the States often follow suit. But frequently, this money cannot be used effectively because it takes too much time to collect and send it to the affected areas. Additionally, the amount that is actually delivered to victims is often small because a large portion is used for promotion and administrative costs.
I think that the participation of citizens should be limited to the time immediately after a crisis and before government relief programs begin. 9/11 is a good example. When news hit that the Twin Towers were attacked by terrorists and that many people were buried under the crumbled buildings, many volunteers rose to the occasion and participated in rescue efforts. Bottled water, food, and medicine poured in from all over the country to help the victims. But eventually, local and federal government agencies took over and volunteers and relief agencies withdrew.
Despite my reluctance to participate in relief efforts, I strongly encourage our church members to help tsunami victims in South Asia. The governments of the countries hit by the tsunami are not economically well to do. Additionally, most of the affected countries are predominantly Muslim or Buddhist. Muslims consider disasters fate; Buddhists consider it karma. So they are not usually active in helping the unfortunate. Other countries, especially Christian countries, must help.
The International Mission Board (IMB) has established a special fund for tsunami victims. One advantage of working through the IMB is that victims can get help quickly because IMB missionaries are already there to minister to them. Also, nearly all the money we send will be used to help victims because there are little administrative costs involved.
However much you contribute, our church will match it dollar for dollar. I encourage you to give generously.
(By the time this article is posted the collection will be over. The ESC raised $12,244 and the KSC $25,025. A check for $62,294 was sent to the IMB after the KSC matched their portion.)
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