“Come, Desire of nations come,
Fix in us Thy humble home;
Oh, to all Thyself impart,
Formed in each believing heart!”
“Home” is a word we throw around quite often around Christmas, with songs on the radio reminding, albeit sentimentally, that there is no place like home for the holidays and crooning of a longing to be home for Christmas.
Home is a word that shows up quite often, as well, when we talk about the ministry of Week of Compassion. Be it in rebuilding houses after hurricanes or tsunamis or in resettling refugees and migrants displaced by violence, restoring home is a fundamental part of our work.
The celebration of Christ’s birth invites us into an even deeper and holier sense of the word home. This fourth verse of “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” in the form of a prayer, suggests that home is something far more intimate and more powerful. These words, so often accompanied by fanfare and the organ with the all stops pulled out, entreat the incarnate one to take up residence not just among us, but indeed within us.
When Christ dwells within us, home is the place where God’s love is made known, where God’s love works through us.
The mission of Week of Compassion is born out of this desire both for Christ to be present among and within us and for us to recognize our neighbors as the dwelling places of God. This year, your prayers, partnership and financial support have enabled this work around the world.
In Bangladesh, summer floods ravaged dozens of districts in the north, northeast, and central parts of the country. The water damaged or destroyed an estimated 700,000 houses, and millions of people felt the effects on their businesses, their crops, their livestock, their health, and their homes. Your Week of Compassion worked with partners and helped provide emergency food supplies to thousands to address the immediate crisis. Thousands more received training and materials to repair their houses, rebuilt stronger to withstand future storms. Seeds, livestock, and market-driven skills-trainings helped communities revive and generate sustainable livelihoods.
For Ajuwa, Imani, and their four children--refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo--home is now Greensboro, North Carolina, after years of fear, danger, and instability. With your support to Week of Compassion, the CWS resettlement office has helped Ajuwa find a good job and obtain his driver’s license. The family has saved up for their first car to drive their kids to school.
This fall, the Camp Fire damaged the houses of nearly every family in the congregation of First Christian Church, Paradise, California. Two out of every three of those families returned to find only ash and rubble. Even as the future is uncertain, the congregation is finding strength in their relationships with one another and with the wider church. Because of your partnership, Week of Compassion was able to provide solidarity grants for the church and the families and has committed to supporting the long process of rebuilding ahead.
During the Ebola outbreak in west Africa a few years ago, thousands of people died, and survivors were restricted from gathering together, since the disease is so highly contagious. In the years since, community members, especially the women, have been leading their communities along the path of recovery--healing from the grief of so many deaths, reviving the devastated local economies, and restoring the bonds of community torn apart by the epidemic. Your gifts to Week of Compassion has allowed women to gain livelihood skills and micro-credit loans so they can begin to work and generate income to support their families again, thus lifting up their communities to overcome the pain and hurt from the outbreak.
These are just a few of the places your gifts have made an impact this past year. Thousands of lives have been touched by your generosity, partnership, and solidarity.
Thank you for your gifts to and partnership with Week of Compassion.
Thank you for the many ways you make a place for Christ to dwell.
This Christmas, may you be filled, again, by the power and wonder of Christ at home with and in us all.
Christmas blessings from your Week of Compassion staff,
Vy, Caroline, Suzie, and Chuck