This post looks at a division inside the EFCA’s ReachGlobal. Crisis Response is a ministry that responds to disasters both globally and domestically. Led by Mark Lewis who is based in New Orleans this post is a history of how Crisis Response came to be and some of the disasters they have assisted on. This post also looks at what Crisis Response has advised EFCA churches on how to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I think I can help others just by my example.“
“Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, it’s at the end of your arm, as you get older, remember you have another hand: The first is to help yourself, the second is to help others.“
“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
Luke 19:10 NIV
EFCA Crisis Response
Hurricane Katrina was a category five storm that slammed into New Orleans in August of 2005. It was the deadliest hurricane in American history until Hurricane Harvey occurred which tied it. The damage was $125 billion dollars and the states of Louisiana and Mississippi were hardest hit. Over 1,833 Americans lost their lives as a result of Katrina. New Orleans was flooded and who can forgot the images of the bodies floating in the water? Or of the Superdome packed with refugees? Out of this disaster came a unique ministry that is tied the to the Evangelical Free Church of America. It would be charged for leading disaster response in future storms, hurricanes, floods and more. The EFCA ReachGlobal Crisis Response is the organization that works at helping people in these disasters and tragedies that occur.
EFCA GlobaReach Crisis Response Mark and Denise Lewis and family.
An Overview of the ReachGlobal Crisis Response. Plus Who is Mark Lewis?
The EFCA’s ReachGlobal Crisis response was created out of Katrina in 2005. The thinking behind the EFCA effort in this area is that in the wake of a crisis a mission field exists. The EFCA sees a crisis as an opportunity to show God’s love so that they can grow and develop churches as well. The Crisis Response goal is to develop one million disciple makers to impact 100 million lives in what they characterize as Acts 19 locations. The EFCA believes that a crisis is an opportunity to evangelize and present the entire Gospel to a person.
ReachGlobal is responsible for missions inside the EFCA and Crisis Response is a division inside the organization. At some point later on I want to do a deep dive into ReachGlobal and analyze the organization and its culture. Crisis Response supports local EFCA churches, EFCA Districts and EFCA ReachGlobal divisions. They do crisis preparedness surveys with churches. The survey asks a number of questions that gauges how prepared a church is for a crisis situation. You can also see how staff can prepare for a crisis in, prepare-for-crisis_worksheets . Unfortunately the links to the crisis response and the holistic ministry consulting are expired and the internet archive did not capture them. So at this time I can’t write up a summary of that aspect of the Crisis Response team. Volunteer teams are sent and its my understanding that people pay their own way. They go on trips for one week or two and work in a needed area. It varies depending upon the need from the disaster or calamity. Also the Crisis Response team welcomes interns. The interns work in the long term locations of Haiti and New Orleans and Houston. The EFCA’s GlobalReach Crisis Response was birthed out of Hurricane Katrina. On the tenth anniversary of the mega storm Crisis Response reflected on Katrina and also was sending teams still to New Orleans to help out as part of long term work. For Crisis Response helping New Orleans is a long term objective. In researching Crisis Response an EFCA Church in Hershey, Pennsylvania described it as the following. “Ministry supports ReachGlobal staff and national partners in three primary areas: 1) crisis response—preparedness, equipping, and response to meet needs and multiply disciples in the wake of crisis; 2) ministry consulting and leader development; and 3) interns—developing the next generation of leaders for the church.”
Crisis response is active all around the United States and also globally. Globally they have assisted refugees who fled ISIL in Iraq and are in Jordan. They have assisted in the Philippines when floods occurred. Here in the United States Crisis Response has assisted in New York when Hurricane Sandy hit. They responded to Hurricanes Dorian, Matthew and Harvey. This blog wrote about Crisis Response briefly when it looked at how Hurricane Harvey impacted the EFCA in Houston and Texas. You can read that post in, “Hurricane Harvey Hits Houston, and How 15 Evangelical Free Churches and the National EFCA are Responding; Plus Some Guidance for the EFCA Concerning this Issue.” Crisis Response assisted in Tennessee when tornadoes hit. And they have assisted in situations where flooding was a problem. When flooding occurred outside Baltimore, Maryland Stillmeadow Community Church was a staging area for operations and Crisis Response was involved in that situation as well. This blog wrote about that in, “Stillmeadow Community Church in Baltimore, Maryland is a Staging Area for Flood Relief.” When fires raged California the town of Paradise was literally destroyed and Crisis Response was involved in assisting there as well. This blog wrote about Paradise Evangelical Free in, “The Camp Fire in California, Paradise Evangelical Free and a Plea for Assistance.” If you go onto the Facebook page of Crisis Response you can follow this ministry of the EFCA.
But how did this all happen? How did this ministry come together? Yes Crisis Response came out of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 but who was the driving force in developing Crisis Response? That is where Mark and Denise Lewis step into this picture. This blog spent a great amount of time trying to research the history of Mark and Denise Lewis and found limited information. While Mark Lewis did civil-engineering in a consulting firm that had 260 employees in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania this blog could not find a biography listing past educational background. However, if I were to take an educated guess I would state that Mark Lewis most likely attended Villinova and came from the Philadelphia area. Why do I say that? Because of the Philadelphia t-shirts and Villanova shirts that I have seen in pictures through all my research. If this blog is wrong its welcome to be corrected.
According to this blog’s research back in 2005 ReachGlobal used to be called Compassion Ministries and was headed up by Jim Snyder. It was known for international response but lacked a domestic capacity. After Katrina hit Mark Lewis who has been interested in crisis response contacted Jim Snyder and asked him what do you need? Snyder responded that he needed someone down in the New Orleans area to help respond and oversee response. Mark Lewis got approval from his wife and took a prolonged leave of absence from his job. He moved down to New Orleans and started working on Katrina related issues and helped develop a ministry that helped with domestic response in the United States. You can read more about Mark and Denise Lewis in, “Couple Find Their Calling in the Storm.” Plus you can look at the Crisis Response refection on Katrina here. Mark Lewis has written a number of articles for the EFCA national blog. You can see a brief sampling here, here and here. And you can see an example of his missions letter from a few years back.
EFCA President Kevin Kompelien and Mark Lewis discuss COVID-19
Crisis Response and COVID-19 Pandemic
As the COVID-19 pandemic started to sweep across the United States ReachGlobal Crisis Reponse was paying attention to the looming outbreak. Crisis Response started to look at the COVID-19 pandemic as a long term strategic issue and prepare the EFCA for this event. Crisis Response put together a presentation that was aimed to educate EFCA churches and leadership about the COVID-19 pandemic. Crisis Response looks at the psychological issues related to the outbreak and people’s fears about the disease. The guide poses the question how can the church be the church during a time of crisis? It asks questions like how is your church impacted by the outbreak? How are attenders and members affected? What are the relational and social distancing impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak?
The presentation also explains what the COVID-19 virus is and how it is much worse than the flu. In drawing information from the Centers of Disease Control, World Health Organization and what happened in Wuhan with available information; the Crisis Response presentation looks at the 2018 flu of 800,000 to a possible 1.5 to nine million hospitalizations from COVID-19. Crisis Response helps explains how things have changed and how individual churches can respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The EFCA organization explained how a church can plan and organize and have effective communication during this time. Its an interesting guide and this blog is pleased that Crisis Response is sticking to the facts of the situation and holding to them. It stands in contrast to Jerry Falwell Jr popping up on Fox and saying that COVID-19 is a biological weapon created by the North Koreans and placing only in the political perspective which is all that Falwell can do out of his narcissism. You can read about that in, “On Fox Jerry Falwell Jr Claims that COVID-19 Is a Biological Weapon Created by North Korea and China. Plus The Controversial Liberty Leader States that the Coronavirus is Another Effort to Remove President Trump.” There are a couple of different versions that Crisis Response put together. My guess is that in such a fluid time with an issue that is fast moving this EFCA ministry was dealing with an evolving situation,. You can see the two versions below.
The Wondering Eagle is Looking for Stories About Crisis Response
In writing about the EFCA this blog would like to allow people to share their stories and discuss the organization and ministry. While this blog has dealt with dark topics it tries to offer balance and look at issues from differing perspectives. This blog understands the role that Crisis Response plays kin the EFCA and encourages it. And if people who have had their life impacted by Crisis Response in a positive way want to share their story and explain how that EFCA ministry helped them in a time of need this platform exists for that purpose. On the flip side to the positive one has to acknowledge the issue of scandal and corruption that is endemic to evangelicalism. This blog was born out of an incident of spiritual abuse from a former Sovereign Grace Ministry and now Acts 29 church in the Washington, D.C. area and writes about scandal frequently. If there are scandals or issues in Crisis Response this blog will sadly tell those stories as well. What scandals could be an issue? Financial misconduct or someone who sexually abuses someone on a Crisis Response mission trip. Sometimes people can be most sensitive or vulnerable when they are in a state of want or desiring basic needs after a disaster. One of the deepest concerns this blog has is the issue of sexual abuse in the ReachGlobal mission field internationally. This has been an issue in the Southern Baptist International Mission Board and stories like Mark Aderholt which dogged David Platt are evidence of that problem. You can read more in, “Anne Marie Miller’s Alleged Sexual Abuse by Mark Aderholt, and Did the Southern Baptist’s International Missions Board Cover it Up? Plus David Platt’s Response.” That said this blog sincerely hopes its not an issue in the EFCA and will follow the facts where they lead. In the meantime this blog wishes Crisis Response and its leadership well during this challenging time of COVID-19 and hopes they remain safe in this unprecedented time in American history.