“Now what?” I wondered as I stood in my living room as Hurricane threatened. I had moved to South Mississippi just six days before Hurricane Katrina made landfall and just finished following the preparedness instructions issued by state and local governments. Though I had a resource in my hand I had no idea how to use it to prepare for the disaster headed my way.
During the months and years following Hurricane Katrina, I visited and studied local congregations and witnessed how these churches addressed the overwhelming needs. I've also helped and studied disasters across 10 countries and counting. From these experiences I learned that faith and churches play an important role in disaster resilience. However, I found that most people and most churches aren’t sure how prepare and care amid tragedy.
That’s why I founded the Humanitarian Disaster Institute (HDI) at Wheaton College in 2012. HDI is the first social science research center in the country devoted to the study of faith and disasters. The mission of HDI is to equip churches and faith-based organizations to prepare for the unthinkable, care for the vulnerable, and cultivate resilience in times of disaster.