When “The Big One” Hits…

Yesterday was a very long and productive day for me. I was at the office for eleven hours and got a lot of work done that has been piling up for quite some time. I was focused and driven. During my lunch break, I went with my Pastor to a luncheon/information seminar that a senior citizens group from my church was sponsoring. The speaker was an ex-cop who is a current Red Cross worker. He was informing everyone on what to do in the face of a disaster (natural disaster, terrorism, viruses (H1N1), etc…). He has been involved in many disasters over the last few decades (Oklahoma City Bombing, Columbine, Hurricane Katrina, The World Trade Center attacks…a.k.a. 9-11, and many more). It was very interesting to hear what he had to say and to hear him speak from experience. He went into great detail about how many cities, places, and organizations in the US have a very poor plan of action for when disasters strike! He referred to these plans as “disaster plans.” He talked about what could have been done differently to save people in the city of New Orleans more effectively. He talked about how when “The Big One” hits (whatever that may be), there are many people that will suffer due to the poor disaster plans that are in place!


This got me thinking: How can I apply this idea to youth ministry? In my experience in youth ministry so far, I can’t even begin to count how many times a student has come to me with a problem or a concern, looking for someone to talk to or for some advice. I’ve taken numerous classes at Nyack that have prepared me for some of the things I’ve run into thus far, but there are just some things that cannot be taught in a classroom setting!  I’ve heard some pretty serious things from my students in the past, but I wonder what would happen when they have a problem that I (or my leadership team) have no idea how to deal with! What would happen when “The Big One” hits in one of my student’s lives? Will I be prepared with a disaster plan to adequately help and be there for them? Or will I let the disaster take over that student’s life because my plan was not in existence or perfected and I didn’t know what to do?

help me

There is another set of questions I could be asking as well. Am I the kind of youth pastor and friend that my students will want to go to when disasters hit their lives? Have I built up enough rapport with them that they will be comfortable enough to grant me access into their disasters?

disaster area no entry

I don’t have any answers right now. In fact, I most likely won’t have the answers until I am faced with a certain situation. What I do know, however, is that I will do everything in my power to get my students through their “Big Ones” that hit them hard! I will be a pastor, a shepherd, a listener, and a friend walking along side of them on their journey through life…disasters and all!

–          paulg


4 Responses to When “The Big One” Hits…

  1. emergingyouth says:

    great post and wonderfully insightful questions for thought and reflection.
    what will we do when disaster strikes and are we becoming the type of people that others turn to when disaster unleashes its fury upon them?
    The truth is that we can be as prepared as possible (and we should) with wisdom, advise, counsel, etc… but we really can never know how we will react to a situation until it arrives. And ever situation is different. How you respond to one student in need may be very different then the next crisis. However, we should be really, willing, and able to respond and not live in a state of fear.
    we may not have to be tornado chasers, but at the same time we cannot go into hiding when the wind picks up!

    • 123paulg says:


      Thanks for the kind words about this post sir. I agree with you about us (youth workers) being able to be as prepared as possible with wisdom, advice, counsel, etc.. but not being able to know how we will react to certain situations when they arise. For me, I learn best in times like that…not in a class room or reading from a book! I loved you analogy of how we don’t have to be tornado chasers but we also should not be hiding when the wind picks up! Wise words from a wise man! Thanks bro!

      – paulg

  2. Mary Kirk says:

    This was very thougt provoking. God has placed a mighty burden on you and He will direct you and others in this path. One thing I have learned over the years is God teaches us by taking us thru some times. What we learn from every experience is something that may help someone else with. 9/11 was a scary time for many of us and one thing I learned is to pull those we love even closer and make sure we share Gods love with those we can. Our disaster survival kit is out lined in the Word of God and we have to learn to put it to work in our lives and those around us. Some blame God when bad things happen but we must teach our young people that it is not God that wants bad to happen in our lives. He only wants good and when something bad happens it saddens Him as well. I read a cartoon that said, Why does God let bad things happen and the response was, why do people do bad things. Not every bad thing is caused by man some are just natural weather related things. I pray God’s wisdom on you, that He will teach you how to relate and to speak in times of trouble big or small. God Bless, Mary

    • 123paulg says:


      Thank you for reading and commenting on my blog. I just learned that I can comment back on what people say. So even though it is months later, I’ll still reply. haha. I definitely agree with you about how God teaches us by taking us through some tough things. I’ve learned in the past that the bad things I’ve gone through have been used for good to help others. It’s funny how God works sometimes! Thanks again for reading!

      – paulg

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