Monday, March 14, 2011

First Organized Disaster Relief

(taken from Strange Facts About the Bible by Webb Garrison)

In light of the recent and ongoing tragedies in Japan, I thought this might be interesting to read about the first recorded organized disaster relief effort.

"The earliest documented account of voluntary aid in time of disaster is reported in Acts 11:27-30.

Secular records of the period confirm and supplement biblical accounts of a great famine during the reign of the fourth Roman emperor, Claudius I (ruler from A.D. 41-54). Crop failures were so extensive that food supplies were exhausted in many regions. Before the critical condition of "great dearth throughout all the world" actually existed, a follower of Jesus named Agabus had a prophetic vision warning of it. He appealed to fellow believers in the big and wealthy city of Antioch. They heard his plea. "Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judea: which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul."

Though there are records of famine as early as the time of the Hebrew patriarchs and crop failure was a constant threat throughout the Near East, neither secular nor religious chronicles report love gifts for famine relief before those made in the time of Claudius Caesar.