2018 was a year of unprecedented disasters in the United States. Hurricane Michael and Florence, as well as the fires in Paradise, California, were all the "worst ever" of their kind. Meanwhile, around the globe, famine, war, genocide, human trafficking, and hunger are at epic proportions.
The Economist reports, “Since 1970, the number of disasters worldwide has more than quadrupled to around 400 a year.” The UN’s disaster-monitoring system ranks America, India, and China as leaders in terms of nations with the most natural disasters between 1995 and 2015. According to the report, natural disasters are those that result in at least ten deaths, affect more than 100 people or prompt the declaration of a national emergency including earthquakes, storms, floods and heatwaves.
“The world needs more than band-aids,” says Sean Malone Founder and Director of Crisis Response International (CRI), a Christian disaster response ministry focused on training and sending missionaries into areas of the world devastated by crises. “An apostolic response is required to this crisis so that a great harvest of souls comes in and cities and nations are transformed,” Malone continued.
CRI has trained and mobilized 10,000 responders since 2007 and has pioneered this unique space in the missions world. “There is something about crisis situations, whether one time events like a fire or hurricane or ongoing issues like poverty and human trafficking, where people realize their need for Christ and are typically more open to hearing about his love for them,” continued Malone.
The team of CRI missionaries has seen tremendous impact deploying teams of trained volunteers all over the world including Iraq, Puerto Rico, Texas, Florida, Dominica, South Carolina, and most recently to Paradise, CA to aid in the relief of thousands without homes and a death toll that reached over 80.
“Food, clothing, and shelter are considered stage one in the deployment effort. We first meet basic practical needs. We then minister to individuals spiritually, whether healing or trauma or deep grief and loss,” explained Malone.
The ministry, based out of Wilmington, NC partners with churches, individuals, and corporations to meet the practical and spiritual needs of those in crisis. Churches will often host teams of volunteers, individuals and corporations volunteer and donate goods to help meet the immense needs.
“People are at a loss as to how to process the devastation that occurs in crisis,” said Karen Wyatt, board member of CRI and staff fundraiser. “What people have spent years working for and building can be wiped out in a matter of hours. Helping people grasp the love of God for them individually and his eternal plan of a life without end and joy without limits gives people a hope that something good can come out of the seemingly hopeless circumstances.”
This work is something Malone started after working on the lighting crew during the aftermath of the World Trade Center terrorist attacks. Working in the movie business, Malone used his lighting equipment to assist first responders in their recovery efforts.
“It was then that I knew God was calling me to this work. I began thinking, What if we could raise up an army of Christians to bring the kingdom of God into crisis?” asked Malone.
What does it mean for the kingdom of God to come into crisis situations? It means peace and joy despite the loss. It means prayer, healing, and help both spiritually and practically. It means rebuilding homes and lives with patience as we look for the city of God that will never end or be destroyed.
“When Jesus taught us to pray for the kingdom of God to come on earth as it is in heaven, why can't we experience that now?” asks Malone. We are not content to just bring aid, we want to see demonstrations of God's mercy and goodness revealing himself in the midst of these crises.”
A New Base
Coming off the epic crises of 2018 including Hurricane Michael and the Malibu and Paradise, CA fires, the vision for CRI is poised to reach new heights as the ministry has secured a new property in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. An 84 acres campus, includes room for staff housing, dormitories for students, space for a dedicated prayer room, strategy sessions, and space to build community and debrief after what can be incredibly stressful deployments.
The base is assessed at $2.4 million but it’s being purchased for just over $600,000 with an estimated $400,000 needed in repairs bringing the budget to 1 million needed to launch the ministry into this new season. The ministry has already raised over $230,000 towards the property and is set to move in mid-February, but more support is needed as the ministry steps into this new season.
“We're so thankful for those who have partnered with us this far. We have more to raise to position us for maximum impact this spring, but we are confident and expectant of God's provision,” said Wyatt. “I believe it was Hudson Taylor who said, 'God’s will done in God's way will never lack God's provision.’ We have been believing God for a base for 10 years and now it's happening. We’re looking forward to seeing and reporting back on all God is going to do in the years ahead.”
“This base is a key step forward as we ready ourselves to train another 10,000 believers with practical skills and tangible solutions,” Malone explained.
The ministry is sounding the alarm for a company of prophetic mercy missionaries to answer the call to what they are calling mercy missions, people with a heart to serve those suffering with the compassion of Jesus.
“Our responders are some of the most generous, selfless people on earth. What they are giving up to serve in crisis situations is huge. Having a base to process, pray, and debrief at as well as train and develop practical skills in the midst of a supportive sending going community is essential,” explained Malone. The base will position CRI to serve and help so many more people in the next season ahead as they serve one-time crisis events as well as bringing Christ-centered solutions to ongoing issues like clean water, homeless refugees, human trafficking and more.
The vision of CRI is to train and mobilize an army of end-time prophetic, mercy missionaries to the theatre of crisis, mobilized in the spirit of night and day prayer, releasing great demonstrations of power and rebuilding cities on the Kingdom of God.
For CRI this promised land is allowing them the opportunity to host long term in-depth training right on their base. This includes the upcoming ARC school, a 2 and a half month training focused on giving students in-depth skills to respond to national and global crisis situations so responders can become a full-time, hope-filled Mercy Missionary.
Additional training include a Basic Training, April 2-6, Chaplaincy Intensive, April 9-13, Preparing Places of Refuge, April 30 - May 4, and Week in the Wild, May 14-18.
“We must understand the hour we live and know what to do,” added Malone. “It’s time for those who have felt the call but had no platform or support to walk it out, to come forth and answer the call of God to impact nations in crisis.”