By Jennifer Taylor
P.O. Box 60, Kempton, IN 46049
Rick Jett, Executive Director
Until 2005, International Disaster Emergency Service primarily received donations from churches and individuals and channeled the money to missionaries or U.S. agencies. When disaster struck, churches knew they could trust IDES to manage the gifts and ensure every penny went to the designated cause.
Today IDES is still a “top of mind” organization for charitable giving, especially in response to earthquakes, floods, and other natural disasters, and as much as 70 percent of its ministry is facilitating these gifts.
However, the IDES team is exploring new ways to serve churches, missionaries, and people in need.
“When Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, people looked to IDES for on-the-ground help,” says Executive Director Rick Jett. “We began sending volunteers as well as finances, and even worked with local church planting agencies to start a new congregation. Today we’re working to mobilize more churches and build our volunteer base for future needs.”
And the needs keep coming. In 2011 IDES worked on three fronts in the United States alone; in addition to spring tornados in Mississippi and Joplin, Missouri, Hurricane Irene battered the East Coast in August.
Jett says another challenge is finding resources for the disasters that don’t receive major media coverage.
“In Southeast Asia and India there is a constant need for food, basic medical supplies, and clothing,” he says. “Other areas need wells for fresh water. That’s not going to make the news, but we want to meet the physical and spiritual needs of these people, too.”
The organization started its “God Always ProvIDES,” (GAP) program as one response to the food crisis; volunteers have helped IDES pack more than 300,000 meals for Haiti. The Manna Project and annual “40 Days of Hunger” initiative encourage participants to fast from all food, eat only rice and beans, or give up small luxuries like movies and donate the money to feed others.
IDES also participates in community development projects and assists with medical care and evangelism.
“We want to help the people in these areas develop commerce and start businesses,” Jett says. “It’s more than a handout.”
Some churches have caught the vision and committed to give money each month for these ongoing needs. Lincoln (Illinois) Christian Church coordinates a “Harvest of Talents” each year to raise money by selling handcrafted items, and the idea has spread to teams in other parts of the country.
Many more—at least 3,000 independent Christian churches—have given gifts to IDES at some point.
“We’re grateful for every partner—the ones who give financially and the ones on the mission field who use the money to help people,” Jett says. “It’s great to see how God uses the church to make a difference together.”
Jennifer Taylor, one of CHRISTIAN STANDARD’s contributing editors, lives in Nashville, Tennessee. Read her blog at www.seejenwrite.com.