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Bishop Gérald Caussé: The sustaining power of faith in times of crisis

Two of the Vermillion Family children stand in the flooded street of their Cypress, Texas, neighborhood after a tornado damaged their home. Credit: Photo courtesy of Bethany Vermillion
Then-Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks with sister missionaries offering service to victims of Hurricane Harvey in Houston, Texas. Credit: Intellectual Reserve, Inc., Intellectual Reserve, Inc.
The LDS Houston Texas Temple is surrounded by water after Tropical Storm Harvey in Houston on Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2017. Credit: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News, Deseret News
Then-Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks with missionaries offering service to victims of Hurricane Harvey in Houston, Texas. Credit: Intellectual Reserve, Inc., Intellectual Reserve, Inc.
Presiding Bishop Gérald Caussé watches an employee at Beehive Clothing in Salt Lake City sew a surgical gown on Friday, May 15, 2020. Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
2010-22 018 2010-21 Bishop Gérald Caussé Devotional October 13, 2020 Photo by Madeline Mortensen/BYU Copyright Brigham Young University 2020 All Rights Reserved2010-22 018 October 13, 2020 Photography by Madeline Mortensen/BYU Copyright Brigham Young University 2020 All Rights Reserved2010-22 018 2010-16 Sunset Student Studying Photo by Madeline Mortensen/BYU Photo Copyright Brigham Young University 2020 All Rights Reserved Credit: Madeline Mortensen/BYU Photo
Presiding Bishop Gérald Caussé and Bishop W. Christopher Waddell of the Presiding Bishopric tour Church-owned Beehive Clothing plant in Salt Lake City, Utah, where surgical gowns are being sewn during the COVID-19 pandemic on Friday, May 15, 2020. Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Try to imagine 20 million pounds of food such as beans, pasta, cheese, potatoes — all packed onto gargantuan pallets.

It’s hard to picture something so vast, even for a person like me who spent a career in food distribution. But there it all was in warehouses, storage facilities and trucks, being mobilized to help people during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As needs continued, so, too, did the global response of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, spanning across 155 countries and eventually becoming the largest single humanitarian effort in the church’s history. All told, the church has distributed more than 150 million pounds of food and commodities to people in need during the pandemic.

At the core of true religion is a charge to care for others, to clothe the naked, to feed the hungry and to heal the sick. But for people of faith the response must not stop there.

Noted New York Times columnist David Brooks recently documented a number of concerning trends in the United States: automobile accidents are spiking due to irresponsible driving; reports of altercations on airplanes, in cities and even in schools are climbing; drug overdoses and substance abuse are increasing. According to Brooks, all this is happening as charitable giving and participation in civic and religious organizations continues to decline.

He concludes: “There must also be some spiritual or moral problem at the core of this.” It’s vitally important to help communities prepare for crises and to lend temporal assistance when disasters strike. But people of faith also understand that we cannot live on bread alone, and, in times of need, we need spiritual as well as temporal sustenance.

In 2017, Hurricane Harvey took the lives of 107 people and caused an estimated $125 billion in property damage. Water levels rose so high in certain areas that boats were necessary to rescue residents. With emergency lines jammed, a group of Latter-day Saints and neighbors gathered at a nearby chapel with their boats to begin picking up distressed residents around Houston. By day two of the efforts, some 57 boats and over 800 volunteers were working out of the makeshift dispatch.

But that was only the beginning of the work.

Click here to read the rest of Bishop Caussé’s article in Deseret Magazine.

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