During Hurricane Katrina's aftermath, the one institution that stood out in contrast to all the incompetance demonstrated by the government's relief effort was the American Church. It was the Church that most effectively fed those displaced by the disaster. Advocates of big government assume that churches and Christian charities can match neither the resources or the expertise governments can provide to disaster victims. The Church's success, in contrast to the hapless performance of the Federal government after Katrina, should reveal such reasoning for what it is: wrong thinking and misleading propaganda.
The same lesson can be learned from relief efforts in Haiti after last year's catastophic earthquake. Much of the aid from secular humanitarian agencies waits in warehouses, not reaching those in need. But Christian Churches and charities need not look to governments and the U.N. for a model in assisting victims: they are the models the secular world needs to follow. Mark Hanlon, senior vice-president, USA, of Compassion International writes about how after the earthquake, their workers in Haiti were able to locate 98.8% of the 21,186 children under their care in Haiti. Their records on these children were probably unmatched by any Haitian government agencies. The children under the charity's care received food, shelter and couseling. Church's partnering with Compassion International were found to be more reliable food distribution centers than other venues. And this is in spite of the damage the earthquake did to Church facilities and the emotional trauma experienced by Church workers themselves. (Hanlon article reference from the Acton Power blog.) No doubt the same lessons are being learned in Australia as the Church ministers to victims of massive flooding. (From the Christianity Today Liveblog.)
And for those in need of medical care in normal times, informed patients should be more comfortable being cared for in Christian run hospitals. According to a study, Christian hospitals provide better quality medical care than non-Christians hospitals do. The Acton Power blog speculates about why this is so: " It may well be due, in part at least, to the comprehensive view of the human person informed by a religious, and specifically Christian, anthropology. That is, we are not simply physical beings, but exist with both material and spiritual aspects, body and soul." The study can be found here.