"From dust you were made and to dust you will return."

Every year, when Lent rolls around, something about these words, spoken during the imposition of Ashes on Ash Wednesday, gets to me.

If you're like me, you're often so overtaken by work and daily stresses that you zoom through life on auto-pilot, and any contemplation about what it means to be alive-any time taken to consider our mortality-feels like a luxury.

This year, thoughts of dust bring up images of rubble and dust in Haiti.  The massive devastation there has raised our awareness of what it means to be mortal, vulnerable, and in need.  The Generosity of Disciple congregations, individual church members, and people who, looking for a way to help, found Week of Compassion, has been staggering.  The reports of the response our partners have engineered on the ground have been breathtaking.

Mortality.  Dust.  Generosity.  Life.

These are the things that are swirling around my head as we head into Lent.

This Sunday is not only the first Sunday of Lent, but it is the first of the two Sundays set aside for our Week of Compassion special offering.  This offering funds our general Compassion Response Fund-an important part of Week of Compassion's ministry that allows us to respond immediately, efficiently, effectively, and for the long haul.   Because of the Generosity of Disciple Churches across the country in 2009, we were able to wire $10,000 for earthquake relief to Haiti from the Compassion Response Fund within 24 Hours of the first report.

Because of your generosity, we can respond before the dust has even cleared.

And because of your faithfulness, we'll be there long after the last news crew packs up to go.

We're not only your disaster relief mission fund, but we are your sustainable development mission fund as well.  Chronic poverty, disease, refugees leaving war-torn villages-these are more than just abstract issues.   They affect people as profoundly as devastating earthquakes, and we address them because of what you give on any Sunday throughout the year.  From water projects in Kenya and Zimbabwe to agricultural development in Nicaragua and Armenia and North Korea, your gifts through Week of Compassion make a remarkable difference in the lives of people working for a better life.  Whether it's through ongoing recovery and rebuilding work on the Gulf Coast or supporting our Refugee and Immigration Ministries help our congregations set up a home for a just-arrived family from Bhutan, we can be present thanks to your gifts.  Week of Compassion is around the world, around the year.  

While our lives spin madly onward, in the van heading to soccer practice, the plane headed to the next meeting, the combine pulling in the last bit of the harvest, and at the helm of the grocery cart in the checkout line, we can pause-turning our fleeting time into sacred time, and our gifts into life abundant.  We can pray.  We can give. We can make a difference.  

We invite you to help us continue to make a difference-not only in the lives of those suffering in Haiti, but also in the lives of those all over the world who are also still in need.  Give generously to our Week of Compassion special offering so that when the next disaster strikes, we will once again be ready to respond, thanks to you and your courageous compassion. 

- Brandon Gilvin, Associate Director