As the Scriptures say,
"They share freely and give generously to the poor.
Their good deeds will be remembered forever."
For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you. Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God.
2 Corinthians 9:9-11
As those of us in the US celebrate Thanksgiving, and as we all cultivate a spirit of gratitude, we, the staff of Week of Compassion, offer you our thanks. Thank you for your prayers, which sustain and strengthen this ministry. Thank you for your gifts, be they large or small. Thank you for your partnership, which makes our work possible.
As Paul expressed to the Corinthians, God is producing a harvest of gratitude - a great harvest of gratitude and generosity was evident this fall in Neptune Beach, FL. When Hurricane Matthew made landfall, First Christian Church of the Beaches sustained some damage to their property, as did several church members. Week of Compassion provided solidarity grants to help meet their needs. Pastor Nathan Loewen sent this message of gratitude, to you, who made the gifts possible: "Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Y'all are simply amazing.... this past Sunday, we as a congregation recognized how blessed we were not to have sustained devastating damage and we are giving our entire offering to Week of Compassion for Hurricane Relief in Haiti."
Last October, severe storms damaged the roof and soaked the ceilings and walls of Susan Haywood's South Carolina home. Though she was able to make some repairs herself, the damage quickly became overwhelming. Week of Compassion, through a partnership with Disciples Volunteering and the disaster ministries of the United Church of Christ and the Church of the Brethren, helped provide for much needed volunteers to compete the repairs. Haywood expressed her thanks for the help and the relationships: "We have been truly blessed by the people coming to help. They quickly became not just workers, but friends. To make friends over a disaster is awesome."
Gratitude is often about relationships, even more than it is about material gifts. On a farm in Jordan, a few miles from the Syrian border, over 200 refugees live in a village of tents. Our partners at the Orthodox Initiative help provide basic necessities like food, soap, and school supplies. This year a visiting delegation, led by Global Ministries, included the Associate Director of Week of Compassion, Caroline Hamilton-Arnold, and the Director of Disciples Refugee and Immigration Ministries, Sharon Stanley-Rae. When the distribution of items was almost complete, and families had received bags of cleaning and hygiene products, a group of women - refugees and members of the delegation - stood together, admiring grandchildren, enjoying a sunny morning, and handing out socks from a large bag. One of the older Syrian women got Caroline's attention to take a picture of the woman with Sharon. After a posed photo, the woman wrapped Sharon in a warm hug kissed her on the cheek. "Shukran," thank you, she said, with a broad smile.
To each of you, may you feel the embrace of God's love this Thanksgiving and may you be enriched in every way, so that your generosity may continue.