By Rev. Josh Baird, Director of Disciples Volunteering with Disciples Home Missions.
In the critical aftermath of a disaster, it is typically inappropriate, and sometimes impossible, for any but the nearest neighbors to physically show up to help; yet Disciples are there because of our support and gifts to Week of Compassion.
The pattern is intentional and consistent: from the immediate extension of solidarity grants to affected Disciples members and churches to on-going partnership and recovery grants, Disciples aim to be present for as long as we are needed. Not all nonprofit and faith-based organizations are active throughout the full recovery, yet the dogged commitment of Week of Compassion and its partner Disciples Volunteering have earned Disciples the reputation of showing up when help is needed and being among the last to leave.
This is exemplified by our response in Joplin, Missouri through a partnership that also included the United Church of Christ, host church South Joplin Christian Church, and local recovery organization Rebuild Joplin. Last summer, more than three years after the massive EF-5 tornado devastated Joplin, people were still looking for help with their recovery. Turned away by other organizations or unaware that help was available, they had only just learned of the services provided by Rebuild Joplin.
In August 2014, South Joplin hosted its last Disciples/UCC mission team, which worked on the home of one of these families while a grant from Week of Compassion helped purchase materials. In December 2014, Rebuild Joplin held their final housewarming after completing their 180th home rebuilt or significantly repaired.
To some, it is strange to talk about recovery from an event that happened almost four years ago. For Disciples, it is who we are.
From the moment help is needed until the work is done, Week of Compassion enables Disciples to be present, putting Compassion into Action with neighbors for the long haul.
This Week's Responses:
Development and Long-Term Recovery and Rehabilitation
Democratic Republic of Congo, Community Development
Bosnia, Interfaith Dialogue