“We’re all about supporting the local church,” says Christina Davies, who oversees operations and training for Mission to the World’s Disaster Response Ministry, which has provided medical relief, reconstruction, counseling, and mitigation for the victims of more than 20 natural disasters worldwide since 1998.

“MTW Disaster Response acts like a wedge for church planters in an area—and it often allows us to go into areas where people aren’t normally open to the gospel,” said Davies. “This also helps with follow-up. After our teams leave, the church planters and missionaries can continue ministry long-term.”

MTW Disaster Response is capable of responding anywhere around the world, in recent years traveling to aid victims of the Chinese earthquake, Burmese cyclone, Sri Lankan tsunami, and Haitian hurricanes. Typically, they send an assessment team immediately after the disaster to determine what kind of help is needed, then send disaster response teams thereafter as long as the urgent need continues.

“We want to be Jesus’ hands and feet,” said Davies. “ So we find the areas in the affected countries where no one else is working, and we stay longer than many other relief organizations.”

“You came and lived with us and loved us when we didn’t know what else to do.”

She related the story of a Sri Lankan man whose entire family was killed in the 2005 tsunami. Because he spoke English, he offered to be a translator for the MTW Disaster Response team.

“He translated, ate with us, and listened to counseling sessions for two weeks,” said Davies. “But he wasn’t interested in becoming a Christian. He was very angry with God for allowing his family to be killed. But he stayed with us the next week, and the next, and the next. Four weeks later, he finally became a believer. He said, ‘You came and lived with us and loved us when we didn’t know what else to do.’”

Some 200 people are currently trained as Disaster Response volunteers, but Davies said they are always looking to grow their team. “We do need trained medical and counseling and construction volunteers, but we also need people who are not skilled in those areas. Those are the people who keep everything running—setting up camp, helping with water purification, playing with the kids standing in line, preparing food, and just loving on people.”

For a firsthand account of response worker Christina Davies, see A Day in the Life of an MTW Worker.

To learn more about MTW Disaster Response, email response@mtw.org.