Wheaton College was far from the massive path of Hurricane Sandy, but researchers at the Illinois school's Humanitarian Disaster Institute (HDI) had been monitoring the tropical storm for weeks. Now, the only Christian disaster research center in the United States is ready to help equip affected churches for post-disaster response.

Jamie D. Aten, founder and co-director of HDI and chair of Wheaton's psychology department, said the institute—which launched last August—aims to equip churches with resources such as spiritual-care tip sheets and "faithful readiness training" to respond when natural disasters strike.

Local churches are uniquely prepared to offer immediate, on-the-ground assistance to areas affected by Hurricane Sandy and other natural disasters, Aten said. The best way to do that? According to Aten, identify ministries in which a particular church already excels; then partner with other churches or associations, such as the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster which coordinates emergency response from religious groups and other private agencies.

What recovery efforts are needed by local churches in communities affected by Hurricane Sandy?

Think about being the full body of Christ. Together, we come together as a full body, and the more the full body can coordinate ahead of time—and even now that they're affected—[churches] can start to leverage their resources and ministries in a more effective way if they partner together.

For the local churches in affected areas, they need to think about what they already do well. What has God called them to do in their communities? This is a time in which they can take those ministries to be able to serve the community as ...

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