I like to read the daily news and often it’s difficult seeing all the natural disasters happening around the world or the plight individuals face living in poverty or persecution. I want to help, but it can feel overwhelming. So often my first instinct is to donate money or gifts-in-kind to help with immediate needs providing what we here at Bright Hope call, “Hope for Today.”

This is a good place to start, and meeting practical needs is an absolute necessity in times of crisis. For example, if a tsunami hits an area, those affected will likely need emergency supplies, food, water or shelter. But while these solutions are vital, especially in the short-term, people also have long-term needs like rebuilding their homes and communities or healing from trauma they have experienced.

By helping only with temporary needs, it can create cycles of dependency and, in some cases, prevent aid recipients from growing spiritually or in their giftings. But addressing more than just present, physical needs often makes the difference to empower them to help themselves.

God created us to grow, to take responsibility for ourselves and to reach out and pour into others. This best happens when a person not only has their physical needs met but are empowered to recognize their own value, talents and skills that can be used to help themselves and others. This kind of support brings more than just short-term aid – it can transform lives.

Next week my colleague, Sarah, will cover more about this topic and what we call, “Hope for Tomorrow.”