WHY PREPARE?by Mark Gustafson, Chief Operations Officer, Koinonia House
Should Christians make preparations for potential or likely uncertain times? Or, should our reliance be totally on God to provide what we need, the instant we need it? Is there some middle ground here?
Preparation is oftentimes a dirty word in today’s church and within the Christian community. The Y2K is-sue brought this subject to a boil with serious Christians on both sides of the debate—to prepare or not prepare. As a ministry, Koinonia House talked about the Y2K issue and encouraged people to prepare for what we saw as a very potential situation. Needless to say, we were off on the severity of the Y2K fallout. Of course, so were a lot of other people—the U.S Government included (where we got a most of our information). But the preparedness issue still re-mains.
First off, I want to discuss some problems or dangers I see from “preppers”:
Fear: People often start a preparedness mentality out of fear. Scripture is very clear on this:
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
2 Timothy 1:7
To prepare out of fear is the wrong motivation.
Hoarding: Preparedness is not about being the sole survivor, or living off our stockpile while others suffer. We are to have a spirit of giving at all times. God truly is our provider, and if He puts it on your heart to lay away some preparations, later He may ask you to give them all away. In the end, it all belongs to God and we are merely stewards, so do not take comfort in your preparations, let your comfort be in Him, who both gives and takes away.
Haughtiness: I have met people who, for some reason, think they are the “smart ones” because they can see what is coming, and those that can’t see it are stupid. They almost seem to look forward to and are ex-cited about a disaster that will allow them to use their preps— as they will be prepared and ready while others are not. God forbid any of our readers would have this attitude, but it does happen.
God is our ultimate protector and provider. We can-not prepare our way around Him or outside of Him. We cannot prepare for everything. We must rely upon God—wholly, without reservation, and without “self” reliance. But, at times, God’s provision may come be-fore the need. With Joseph, He gave seven years of plenty to see them through the seven years of famine. God could have simply not allowed famine, but He chose to provide in a different way. I see this happening today—God is putting preparation on many people’s hearts. There is a renewed interest in stocking up, being prepared and living independently from “the system.”
Everyone Is a Prepper (You Just Don’t Know It)We have all made preparations for uncertain times. Anyone that buys insurance is prepping for an unknown event. Car insurance, fire insurance, health insurance, life insurance, and unemployment insurance are all purchased for a future event that we don’t want to happen. Most would say that these types of preparations are prudent—who would own a house and not have fire insurance? If catastrophe strikes, I will have some provision in the form of a check from the insurance company.
Another preparation many people make is a retire-ment plan. Putting away money (building a cash cache) while the harvest is plenty and saving for a leaner time in our life is considered wise.
As a culture and society we have gotten away from other forms of preparations. Grocery stores and other retailers allow us to live day to day and we can get almost anything we need immediately. In fact, many retailers are open 24 hours a day. This is a wonderful, convenient system our society has developed. If every-thing stays the same, we can enjoy the benefits of this system for the rest of our years on this earth.
In the past (still current in many parts of the world), people grew and harvested their own crops and used various storage methods to preserve their bounty for lean times, like winter. This was a necessity of life. People knew that hard times were coming and they prepared for it. Those that didn’t, perished.
What Should We Prepare For?
The future is uncertain. The economy is not our only concern or focus of preparation. There are many other circumstances in life that also seem likely to turn normal life into difficult times—turn on the world news to get a full list, as we will just cover a few here.
Natural Disasters: These happen quite frequently throughout the world, and oftentimes without warning. Watch store shelves in disaster areas—they are cleaned out within hours. Preparing for your family’s needs during a natural disaster seems prudent and worthy of your attention. In fact, not preparing could be looked at as neglect. I doubt your insurance agent will deliver food and water to your doorstep, nor will the government come rushing in with aid (study the Hurricane Katrina governmental response).
Even disasters across the globe can cause issues here. We had to find a new vendor for our CD materials after the earthquakes in Japan caused shortages everywhere. We are now prudently growing our shelf stock accordingly.
Man-Made Disasters: A train carrying a toxic sub-stance derails near your home, a nuclear plant leaks, a bioweapon is discharged, or some other situation occurs that may require you to leave the area for a week or more unexpectedly. These may seem extreme, but being prepared might make the difference between a one- to two-week camping trip with the family or staying in a government-controlled shelter.
Unemployment: The vast majority of people are unemployed at some time in their lives. This can be by your choice or your employer’s choice, but it does hap-pen. In today’s economy, your next job may be several months away and even pay less—are you prepared enough to fill the void?
Extended Sickness or Injury: Some have health insurance, while others do not. For those that have health insurance, your medical bills are mostly covered, but other needs are not met by health insurance, such as food, gas, and other expenses that continue even though you are unable to work.
For those without health insurance, it would be an even more trying time. Making some preparations for times such as these seems prudent, as hardly anyone lives life without some sort of extended physical ailment.
Social Unrest: This can be caused by numerous events. Natural disasters cause social unrest. Terrorism is an event that can cause social unrest. Americans seem to be getting more and more “on edge” (you know what I’m talking about), which could lead to larger scales of social unrest, possibly disrupting crucial services.
The more we watch the news and see what is happening around us, the more we should be thinking about the eventuality of an event that may cause us to rely on some preparations. A favorite saying I heard once is: “It wasn’t raining when Noah built the Ark.” Pay close attention to what is going on, for the watchful are rarely surprised and are most often ready and prepared.
So, I ask the question: Why Prepare? I believe the chances of something happening that will negatively impact me and my family at some time during my life are 100%, so I prepare in a manner that will hopefully minimize the impact of that event.
This does not replace my reliance upon God—He is our ultimate protector and provider. Although, I do believe He often provides far in advance of the need and it is up to us to use that provision wisely, as in preparations, and not squander it on the immediate want or desire.
A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.
Making the decision to prepare is easier than actually doing it. For most of us it will mean changing the way we live and make decisions (if we get really serious). Here is a basic outline to follow:
Get out of debt: Financial debt is what ruins most people in a time of crisis. Being debt free (including your home) gives you freedom and the ability to endure difficult times. Proverbs 22:7 says “The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.”
Store some food: Simply grow your pantry. Have enough food on hand to carry you through a time of need. I am not talking about having 500 lbs of rice and beans—stock up on foods you actually eat. A one-month supply is a good goal to start with and then build from there, according to your individual plan, and always remember sharing in whatever plan you make.
Store some water: Having a supply of drinking water on hand may make the difference between staying or leaving your home. After Hurricane Katrina, obtaining clean drinking water was one of the major reasons (other than flooding) people left their homes to seek help.
Cash: Having some cash on hand is a good idea. Personally, we just had an issue with the bank where they mistakenly canceled our debit card (on a weekend) and it took a week to get a new card. Many places do not take checks anymore and without a debit card we could not purchase certain items or extract cash from the ATM. Thankfully I keep some cash around and was able to purchase things we needed. We have run into similar situations during extended power outages, during which vendors would only take cash.
Miscellaneous items: Medicines, pet food, personal hygiene items, etc. These are all good items to have on hand in case of interruptions in the supply line. Factories closing, trucker strikes, limited freight deliveries due to fuel prices—these have all caused interruptions in the past.
The bottom line here is that the future is unknown and we need to make some intelligent guesses at what may happen and make prudent decisions about how to prepare for those potential times and circumstances.
We cannot prepare for everything, but everyone should be making some obvious preps, with the #1 prep being your relationship with God—without a solid relationship with Him, all is in vain. Now, it’s up to you.