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When Disaster Strikes: The Curious Appeal of Crisis Response

Published: April 13, 2021

Hurricane, tornado, flood. Nothing upends expectations quite like natural disaster. And no one upends doubts about the power of personal response quite like Carrie Crumrin 09.

Crumrin visited the Greenville College campus recently to reconnect with students and share her passion for helping others in the face of unimaginable crises.

Crumrin works with ReachGlobal, the mission organization of the Evangelical Free Church of America. Specifically, she works with ReachGlobal Crisis Response, the division of ReachGlobal which focuses on rebuilding in areas that have experienced natural disasters, such as the hurricanes in New Orleans and Staten Island. ReachGlobal facilitates Greenville Colleges New Orleans spring break trip, a favorite service opportunity for students in the last 10 years.

Upended Homes, Emotions, Spirits

Homeowners need emotional support, and sometimes assistance with personal needs, after a disaster. ReachGlobal's goal is long-term relationships rather than a quick construction project. To that end, construction teams work in partnership with a disciple-making team, which Crumrin is a part of, to forge meaningful relationships with homeowners.

Some of the homeowners are committed Christians who welcome fellowship with other believers. Some arent. Whether they welcome spiritual conversation or not, Crumrin and her team can still be a support and a source of love.

Baby Steps In Crisis Response

Crumrin got her first exposure to the needs of New Orleans on one of the Colleges New Orleans service trips at a time when Hurricane Katrina was still in the very recent past. Crumrin loved the trip, but didnt plan to go back. However, as her time at GC drew to a close, prayer and soul-searching convinced her to return to ReachGlobal crisis response and commit to it for one year, a move she expected would be a springboard for the future into something else. She raised financial support and began a year in New Orleans in June 2010.

Hooked on Helping

God wasnt done surprising her. After six months on the job, Crumrin felt called to stay longer. Her one year commitment turned into two, which led her to consider a bigger step: becoming a long-term (or career) missionary with ReachGlobal. She filled out the long-term application and prepared for a career of indefinite length with ReachGlobal.

However, as a long-term member, she couldnt keep working unless she reestablished all her financial support in the form of committed monthly or annual gifts rather than one-time donations. So she went back to raising money, determination and prayer seeing her through this unexpected hiatus. The job she once saw as a temporary springboard had become a destination to get back to. She raised the money and returned to New Orleans in June of 2013.

Embracing Work That is Bigger Than Self

The crisis response organization itself has experienced changes in direction. We were started as a division primarily to focus on natural disasters, Crumrin says. But several political and health crises of the past year have forced their foreign divisions to take on challenges beyond natural disaster relief, such as raising money during the Ebola crisis and supporting Syrian refugees and their European host families. The organizations work grew beyond the original vision.

Tips to Improve Response

Experienced in dealing with crises, Cumrin offers these tips to others.

  • Suspend judgment Get comfortable outside of preconceived expectations. Thats one thing Crumrin learned from her time as a GC undergrad. She says the her college days taught her to listen to people and not judge them immediatelyor at all, regardless of what their stance is on things politically, religiously, culturally. She urges everyone to focus on their similarities to others rather than their differences.
  • Listen for the story The primary thing I noticed, even on the very first New Orleans trip [with Greenville College], was to take time to listen to peoples stories. A common theme between [Greenville and Reach Global] is the value of the story. The value of taking time to be present with people and just listen, without trying to fix problems.
  • Try something newShe says that students who feel a call to get involved with the New Orleans ministry should take advantage of the inroad the College provides. The spring break trip guides students in raising support and provides a ready-made team to travel with.
  • Proactively explore calling Crumrin says God has taken her on an incredible journey. She wants students to see themselves that way, too, and ask what is God calling you to right now, where youre at?

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Learn more about students and alumni who serve:

Young Alumnus Cultivates Critical Thinking in East Jerusalem Classrooms

In Prison But Not Forgotten

Youth Against Complacency and Homelessness Today

Speed Missions: 11 Countries, 11 Months

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