Reflections from Japan

Families search for the names of loved ones on a list of missing and those confirmed dead. Photo credit: Takeshi Komino, CWS

As of March 28, 17,000 people are still missing in Japan; 11,000 have died, thousands more have been injured, and those numbers are expected to rise. There are still approximately 300,000 people living in more than 2,300 evacuation sites across Japan, though there are hundreds of thousands -- perhaps as many as 500,000 -- who remain in their homes but are dependent on the sites because there is a lack of available food, stoves, fuel and other necessary items. Week of Compassion, through Church World Service and through the United Church of Christ in Japan, is responding on a daily basis, thanks to your gifts. 

Takeshi Komino, Church World Service Asia/Pacific Emergency Response Director, shares with us his personal reflections from Japan. 

“Is this really happening in my country of Japan?” was my initial thought. Japan is considered one of the richest nations in the world with probably the best disaster risk reduction measures in the region. And this was certainly my first time responding to an emergency in Japan as a staff member of CWS. As the extent of damage became clearer, I learned that this is actually four disasters happening at once. First a 9.0 Richter scale earthquake, then 20m+ tsunami, then nuclear power plant reactor explosion, all happening in the harsh winter weather of Tohoku region, where temperatures nowadays go down below freezing point on daily basis. Can my government respond adequately? The answer, unfortunately, is no.

My recent drive from Tokyo to Miyagi Prefecture was somewhat smooth on Tohoku Motorway until where roads became bumpy and we required a special pass to go through that segment. Once I entered Tohoku region, it was snowing, freezing, and long queues were at every gas station where fuel was running out. We were lucky to be able to get a share in one of the gas stations with a 10 liter limit.

The Government of Japan is eager to maintain the image that their response is properly executed, but people I met in my assessment visit tell me otherwise. Relief items are not adequately reaching them, influenza is spreading, people are waking up in the middle of the night because of body aches due to cold air, no future plan is communicated, still their loved ones are missing; truly daily survival for these people both physically and mentally. I am personally wearing two layers of pants as well as a sweater and down jacket. Even with these, it was freezing cold and my fingers went numb.

In coordination meetings in Tokyo, some people are asking, “with Self Defense Forces being deployed and the government sending fuel tankers, aren’t the needs met?” From the affected population who are faced with daily survival at evacuation sites, such questions seem to be nonsense and pointless -- a view I now share. Then what is my government doing? To give them credit, they are tasked to deal with unprecedented challenges of restoring safety at Fukushima-Daiichi Nuclear Plant, deployment of Self Defense Forces to deal with 500,000 people who are living at evacuation sites (including those who are staying at evacuation sites and people who are visiting on daily basis from their houses due to lack of utilities) and construction of temporary shelters for re-evacuation. They simply don’t have government human resources to serve the most vulnerable; people who can even go to these evacuation sites. Who can serve these people then? 

Volunteers are the ones. Agencies are now mobilizing local volunteers, of which there are many, to help the affected population with cleaning evacuation sites of dirt/mud from the tsunami, classifying relief items at warehouses, carrying and distributing relief items, daily updates on needs at disaster volunteer centers, etc. They are not professional aid workers, but they can certainly offer human resources to labor intensive relief work, and with proper management structure by aid agencies, local volunteers will play a key role in this relief and recovery effort.

Some may question, “why assist Japan which is one of the richest nations in the world?” My answer is, these people who are staying in extremely difficult conditions at the evacuation sites, they really do need everyone’s help. Their basic needs must be met, and we need to be there when they re-formulate their communities. Governments can make systems and policies and repair major infrastructure, but it’s people who make communities. As the people-centered organization that we (Church World Service) are, we can formulate people-centered assistance, which is a key aspect in this relief and recovery effort.

We also encourage you to visit here for the latest update from our Global Ministries missionary, the Rev. Jeffrey Mensendiek in Sendai. Please keep him and all of our missionaries and partners—as well as all the people of Japan—in your prayers.

Along with Takeshi and Jeffrey, we thank you for your courageous compassion as we continue to reach out to our sisters and brothers in such intense need. Thank you so much for your faithful partnership.

Your Gifts Are Making a Difference in Japan

Week of Compassion offerings are already at work in Japan. Thank you for your gracious gifts! They are allowing Week of Compassion to respond to the overwhelming needs of the crises that have plagued the country since Friday, March 11. Through Global Ministries, we are supporting our partner, the United Church of Christ in Japan (UCCJ), to assist them as they set up their Relief Planning Committee and will continue to support them as they respond to ongoing needs. For more information (including photos) on what the UCCJ is doing, please visit here

Alongside our continuing support of the UCCJ, Week of Compassion gifts have also been directed to Church World Service (CWS). CWS and its member communions are providing emergency relief support to at least 5,000 families (25,000 people) now living at 100 evacuation sites in the northeastern area of Japan (Miyagi, Fukushima, Iwate, Ibaragi, Tochigi prefectures). Assistance at these sites will include food and other essential items, delivered through a partnership with the Japan Platform, an alliance of 32 humanitarian organizations who have come together to respond to the emergency.

CWS will focus on evacuation sites where the basic needs for food, water, sanitation, electricity and fuel are not being met, as identified and prioritized by the Japan Platform. The need for clean drinking water will be addressed, and blankets are being prioritized to help protect people from the cold - an increasingly dire reality as fuel and gas supplies run out. In order to maintain radio contact at evacuation sites, batteries will be supplied, enabling survivors to receive vital news, especially on nuclear radiation-related developments. Gas and fuel supplies will also be sent to evacuation sites.

Although Japan is considered one of the most developed countries in the world, the unimaginable magnitude of the damage will place extraordinary pressures on every relief and humanitarian service in the country. Thanks to the great capacity of the Japan Platform, CWS hopes to relieve some of that pressure and alleviate people's suffering with funds raised through the appeal it has issued late last week, to which Week of Compassion has already participated. 

While monetary gifts are the most effective and immediate way to respond to the crises in Japan, CWS hygiene kits would also be appreciated. The kits that were already sent to Japan were those pre-positioned in our CWS warehouses in the region. Those warehouses will need to be restocked. Please visit here for more information. 

For further updates from our Global Ministries missionaries Jeffrey Mensendiek, Martha Mensendiek and Casilda Luzares from Japan, please visit this site.

We ask for your prayers and ongoing support of our relief and recovery efforts in Japan, for our partners at the UCCJ, CWS, and the Japan Platform, the missionaries representing us, but most of all for our sisters and brothers there who are suffering so greatly. Thank you for your courageous compassion and partnership thus far.  For we know that when even one suffers, we all suffer (1 Cor 12:26).

Haitian Deportations

In other news, Refugee and Immigration Ministries (RIM) reports that the Department of Homeland Security has begun to deport Haitians who have been ordered removed. Previously, Haitians were not being removed given the devastation in their country due to the January 2010 earthquake. Human rights groups have expressed concern about returning people to an unstable situation. In fact, one of the first 27 Haitians deported has died of cholera. Learn more here.
RIM is a program of Disciples Home Missions supported by your Week of Compassion offerings. 

 

Crises in Japan and Your Gifts in Action

Photo Credit: ReutersFollowing the March 11th earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan, the island nation is facing multiple crises, including the increased threat of radiation exposure from several nuclear power plants. The official death toll has risen to 2,722 people and is expected to increase.

More than 400,000 people are now living in makeshift shelters or evacuation centers, according to The New York Times. Compounding the problem is windy and bitterly cold weather, as well as shortages of water, food and fuel, The Times reported. But the chief concern remains radiation, as a third nuclear reactor blast occurred today.

Through the joint Global Ministries of the Disciples of Christ and United Church of Christ, Week of Compassion’s primary partner in Japan is the United Church of Christ in Japan (UCCJ). Several mission appointees serve there, teaching ESL or working with local churches.

UCCJ has established a relief committee which is currently researching and planning an appropriate response. UCCJ has also provided a status update on their churches, many of which were damaged or destroyed. Your gifts to Week of Compassion have already gone to support the UCCJ efforts. 

Your gifts will also support a collaborative effort between our partner Church World Service and the Japan Platform, a coalition of 32 non-governmental organizations, government service agencies and media outlets in Japan. CWS will be providing support and channeling contributions to individual members of the Japan Platform, and is also prepared to support efforts of faith-based partners in Japan, including the National Christian Council of Japan.

We are grateful for your gifts of Courageous Compassion for the people of Japan—should you feel moved to contribute to this relief effort, please donate online.

“COOL” T-Shirt Proceeds Will Go to Japan Relief Effort

Proceeds from the "Love Your Neighbor" line of shirts, posters, and stickers will be given to Week of Compassion's Response Fund to be donated to the victims of the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

Created by designer Ty Mattson in order to help promote a benefit concert for Nashville flood relief, the "Love Your Neighbor" idea speaks to the universal desire in each of us to make the world a better place for those nearby. In the aftermath of the flood that hit Nashville in May of 2010, volunteers have demonstrated what it means to love one's neighbor as thousands of individuals have pitched in to help flood victims rebuild their homes and their lives.

Shirts are printed on a light green 100% organic cotton shirt, are printed in an environmentally-safe way, and are available in men's and women's sizes.

Thanks to Chris Herlinger of Church World Service for much of the information on Japan.

Earthquake and Tsunamis Strike Japan

An 8.9-magnitude earthquake, the strongest recorded in Japan's history, has triggered a tsunami affecting northern Japan, killing hundreds.   The tsunami triggered warnings throughout Asia and coastal areas of the US and Latin America. Evacuations were reported in coastal areas in the US, including Oregon. Waves that hit Hawaii early today did not cause major damage, according to news reports, but we will continue to monitor the situation.

The worst-hit area in Japan was the northeastern port city of Sendai, which was the closest metropolitan area to the quake's epicenter.  Officials said up to 300 bodies were found; the death toll there and elsewhere is expected to rise, the New York Times reported.

Week of Compassion, through our partners, is closely watching the situation along the U.S. Pacific Coast and around the Pacific Rim.  We have been in touch with our regional ministers along the West Coast in the case that needs emerge should the tsunamis cause damage.  In addition, Church World Service domestic response teams are monitoring the situation in Hawaii and the West Coast.

Through Global Ministries, WoC has already responded to our primary partner, the United Church of Christ in Japan, with an initial emergency response grant and will continue to be in close touch with them as they respond to this devastating tragedy. 

We offer you this beautiful prayer written by the Rev. Dr. John Tamilio, pastor of Pilgrim United Christian Church in Cleveland, Ohio, in hopes that you might find it helpful as you pray for our sisters and brothers in Japan. 

If you are moved to respond to this humanitarian crisis, please donate online.

Thank you for your ongoing support and partnership in times like these.  I send you my heartfelt gratitude.

Refugee Crisis on the Libyan Border

Photo credit: ACT/Church of Sweden/Sarah Harrison 

Through our monitoring partners in the ACT Alliance, Week of Compassion is keeping abreast of the refugee situation in Libya. ACT has sent an assessment team to the Tunisia-Libya border area where many thousands are fleeing the violence in Libya. The team is cataloging needs that are not being covered by other agencies already in the field, and hopes to offer a coordinated alliance response based upon the information gathered on the ground.

Currently, a high priority is assisting migrant workers inside Libya, as well as those on the borders, who wish to leave to return to their countries of origin. As of March 3, 91,000 people are reported to have crossed into Tunisia, approximately 80,000 to Egypt and 2,500 to Niger. Most people are migrant workers from Egypt, Pakistan, Sudan, Bangladesh and other countries. However, as fighting continues in Libya, more people – including many Libyans - will be trying to leave the country.

The humanitarian situation remains extremely worrying; the displaced populations face needs ranging from material to psychosocial. Week of Compassion will continue to monitor the situation through the ACT Alliance and will respond as soon as an appeal is issued.

Photographs from the border are available here.

Storms across the Southeast

We are currently monitoring storms across the Southeast. Severe weather, including tornadoes, is expected across Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. We have been in touch with our regional offices and will respond as needed.

Should you wish to respond to needs emerging out of Libya or weather across the United States, please donate here.

Scholarships Available for Bread for the World National Gathering 2011: Changing the Politics of Hunger

Join Week of Compassion partner, Bread for the World, June 11-14 in Washington, D.C., for an opportunity to learn more about the Millennium Development Goals and advocate for ways to reduce poverty worldwide. Dr. Frank Thomas, Senior Pastor at Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Memphis, TN, will be speaking at the opening plenary session. Generous scholarships are available, so register soon!  

At the beginning of this Lenten Season of reflection, we pray for the hope that can emerge from sacrifice and the stillness that leads to renewal. As always, we are grateful for your partnership and the many ways you help us respond to needs around the world and in our own backyards.

Disciples Women in the Congo Organize a Service of Compassion

What an incredible story of generosity, faith, and partnership! Don’t miss reading this!

Resource Development Minister Begins Service

We are pleased to announce that the Rev. Johnny Wray, former Director of Week of Compassion (1992 – 2008), has been named Resource Development Minister for WoC. This newly created part-time position will focus on building up the Week of Compassion Endowment Fund within the Christian Church Foundation, nurturing relationships with current donors with established named funds, and securing major gifts. With a long-term vision for our future together, Week of Compassion is committed to accompanying both givers and receivers as we work to make the world a more equitable place for all. If you are interested in establishing a named permanent fund that will benefit “the least of these” through Week of Compassion, please contact Johnny at jwray@woc.disciples.org. Welcome back, Johnny!

Clean-Up Buckets Needed

Looking for an easy and fun hands-on outreach project? All predictions indicate that this spring will bring with it significant flooding, particularly in the upper Midwest. The Red River Valley and the upper Mississippi River will rise with a high probability of major flooding. As a proactive measure, we are asking our Disciples congregations and friends to assemble Clean-Up Buckets for Church World Service. As of this week, the CWS warehouse in New Windsor, MD, is extremely low. For us to be as prepared as possible in the case of severe flooding this spring, we humbly ask you to consider putting buckets together. For detailed instructions, please visit here. Thank you in advance!

Wildfires Blaze West Texas

Wildfires have blazed across the western counties of Texas for the past several days, burning more than 130,000 acres of land, according to the latest CNN reports. As of today, we have no reports of any needs among our Disciples communities. Along with the Southwest Regional Office and Area Ministries, Week of Compassion will continue to monitor the situation.

Thank You! 

We celebrated the actual Week of Compassion, Feb. 20-27, 2011, the past two Sundays. We sincerely thank all of you for your ongoing generosity and partnership. As you know, Week of Compassion’s effectiveness depends on our partnerships. There is no more important partner than you and our local congregations. You make WoC what it is. The gifts and offerings received during our special offering season allow us to respond to humanitarian disasters, emergencies, and sustainable development needs throughout the entire year. Thanks to you, we are prepared to respond with compassion and love to those who suffer and are in need. Thank YOU, and thanks be to God! 

What is Your WoC Testimony? 

Do you have a WoC testimony to share? Do you know of someone who has left a legacy of compassion? We have received wonderful feedback from last week’s updates featuring WoC testimonies from Dr. Lon Oliver; Amanda and Matt Harders and their children, Bailey, Hannah, and Holly Lauren; and the Rev. John Trefzger. If you have a WoC story you would like to share, please do so! Send them to us by replying to this e-mail or writing to ecleveland@woc.disciples.org. Thank you for sharing your story of how participating in Week of Compassion has brought you joy! 

Responses Made 2/21-3/3/11

Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance

Mexico, assistance to pastor's family
Tanzania, bomb explosion
New Zealand, earthquake
Cambodia/Thailand, aid to displaced
Oklahoma, fire damage
Virginia, fire damage

Development and Long-Term Recovery

Colombia, food security
California, food security
Virginia, food security for infants and toddlers
Great River Region, pastoral care

For the full listing of responses made to date in 2011, click here.

Sharing Brings Joy

John Trefzger was out of the country when he first heard about Week of Compassion.

“It was 1944, and I was stationed overseas when Glen Oak Christian Church sent me the materials the first time Week of Compassion was promoted. I had been in India for a year and spent some time in Burma. I saw many people living in terrible poverty.

“I wrote home and told my wife, ‘Be sure to make a gift.’”

John’s wife Marilyn contributed to Week of Compassion that year, and over the course of an incredible life together — a life that included working at the family bakery in Peoria, IL, discerning a call to ministry and heading off to seminary, serving in ministry in congregations and as regional pastors, the Trefzgers always made Week of Compassion a priority, giving for 67 years.

That’s every year the offering has been received.

But it wasn’t just his resources that John gave. Week of Compassion wound its way deep into the fabric of his ministry. As a student at Lexington Theological Seminary, John preached his first sermon on Week of Compassion, peppering it with stories from his time in Asia. He introduced the offering at the church he served in Kentucky—a church that had never participated in the offering. He still remembers that the first collection they received counted eleven dollars and some change—a small offering that grew each year he was there.

And in his third year at that church, a member asked him, “Preacher, how long will we be taking this Week of Compassion offering?”

John’s wife Marilyn contributed to Week of Compassion that year, and over the course of an incredible life together [they have been] giving for 67 years.

His answer came easily: “For as long as there is need.”

For 67 years, the Trefzger family has worked to meet needs all over the world through participating in the Week of Compassion Special Offering. Why not join their legacy of sharing? There is still need, but as long as there are folks with the deep faith of the Trefzgers, there will always be the hope and joy that comes with giving.

John’s wife, Marilyn, passed away in 2010.

Sharing Brings Joy

Sharing Brings Joy: A Week of Compassion Testimony

But absolutely, hands-down: our favorite time for donating our treasure is Week of Compassion.

Our 7-year old son Bailey, and his 4 years old sister, Hannah, have fallen in love with giving their time, talents, and treasure. As their parents, we wanted them to discover for themselves that every person plays a role in the community… that everyone has a place and a purpose. Matt and I never made giving a requirement; rather, we wanted them to develop the joy of giving in their own way.

Often, their giving brings us to tears. When Bailey lost his first tooth and gained a dollar, he begged to donate it to a local organization helping the homeless. Hannah nearly made our pastor cry when she brought him one small, clay flower-pot full of pennies to “help the Church Nursery children.”

But absolutely, hands-down: our favorite time for donating our treasure is Week of Compassion. It is so much fun to watch the children run around the house searching for coins to fill their boxes. They hunt under couch cushions and in junk drawers looking for lost coins in need of a proper home. By their own choice, all of the pennies they earn for their household chores in the month go into the boxes, until they are brimming full. If one sibling’s box happens to fill faster than the other, the pennies, nickels, and dimes, are shared amongst them.

This year, they have vowed to help their 18-month-old sister, Holly Lauren, learn how to put pennies into her first box with her little fingers. I enjoy stealing quick glances as they guide her, hand-over-hand, demonstrating “how it’s done.” Holly already hops up and down, clapping and cheering as the “practice coins” make the familiar clinking sound.

Then, every year on “Week of Compassion Collection Day” the children day dream about how "their" money helps others. Matt and I listen intently as they wonder aloud and we drive. Sometimes we hear about clean water or food for the hungry. Sometimes, we hear musings about other parts of a world that is still very exotic and exciting to them.

I have to admit, I secretly look forward to that drive every year! Don’t we all?

-Amanda Harders, First Christian Church Colorado Springs, Colorado

Earthquake in New Zealand

Week of Compassion has authorized funds for our partner, the Associated Churches of Christ in New Zealand, to support any efforts in which they may engage. We have also been in touch with the ACT Alliance who has informed us that they have finally made contact with the Christian World Service New Zealand staff who are all safe, but could not access their office building yesterday. We will continue to be in close touch with our partners, through Global Ministries, to monitor the situation and respond to any emerging needs.

Responding to Fires in White Swan

Mission Director of Yakama Mission, Dave Bell, shares this report from White Swan. “Fifty mile-per-hour wind pushed a firestorm through the small town of White Swan, Washington on Saturday, February 12. The community of the historical Yakama Christian Mission experienced the worst loss of family homes in Yakima County history. With many homes housing more than one family, the community continues to struggle finding long-term shelter for all.

Thanks to an emergency grant from Week of Compassion (WoC), the Yakama Christian Mission is in the process of helping families with housing. A family is currently in the process of moving into an apartment at the Mission and WoC funds are used to cover utilities, toiletries, food, etc. WoC funds are also covering gas and meals for visitations and conversations on how to process disaster with children and youth. WoC funds are also being used to enhance opportunities for conversation through hiking, fishing, and drum and talking circles.

These opportunities of directly and indirectly providing pastoral support, bereavement counseling, and identifying folks unmet needs and helping fulfill those needs through providing resources and referrals are how WoC funds are used in the immediate aftermath of the fire.”

-Dave Bell, Mission Director, Yakama Mission

Minute for Mission

Guatemala: Farming for a Better Future

Marcela and her neighbors are thrilled with the results—improved nutrition, increased income, and a new sense of personal dignity and confidence in what they can accomplish together.

In the chilly highlands of Guatemala, much of the land people live on is difficult to farm and earn a living from. Starting with the women, indigenous families in at least 31 communities in Totonicapá province are learning to manage soil and water resources, increase and diversify their crops, use sustainable farming practices, and market their surplus. Marcela Chic is proud of the cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers that she and her neighbors are now growing year-round in simple greenhouses.

Marcela is a leader of the women’s group in her community. Through the workshops in her village that she and the other women have participated in, supported by Week of Compassion, they have learned to grow vegetables using locally available resources, including tire gardens, natural pesticides made from local plants, composting for fertilizer, and water purified with local plants.

“It’s not just giving them seeds . . . but through the trainings they’ve gotten new ideas and support and it shows in the pride of each person,” explains Don Tatlock of Church World Service, “that they can now provide for their families, provide for their children—can maybe have a better future for their children.”

“And when people started doing different things, especially with the greenhouses, doing organic composting, using organic fertilizers, organic pesticides, the men at first were saying, ‘That’s crazy stuff—there’s no way that’s going to work.’ As they saw the process and saw the results, then they wanted to be part of the program. And that’s been interesting . . . they’re now asking the women to teach them how they’re doing it . . . so they can learn and be a part of it as well,” says Tatlock.

Marcela and her neighbors are thrilled with the results—improved nutrition, increased income, and a new sense of personal dignity and confidence in what they can accomplish together.

Sharing Brings Joy: A Week of Compassion Testimony

"For the past 44 years Week of Compassion has been like a best friend joining me to a much bigger ministry."

Rev. Truce Lewellen introduced me to Week of Compassion in 1967. The occasion was his Pastor’s Class, and I was about to be baptized. For the past 44 years Week of Compassion has been like a best friend joining me to a much bigger ministry. In 1985, a massive earthquake hit Mexico City. My wife, Maria, a Mexican American, and I felt helpless as we watched TV and wished we could make a difference. A few days later, we learned that some of the first aid to reach Mexico City was from Church World Service, a partner ministry of the Week of Compassion.

I remember the south Louisiana severe drought of 1998-2000. John Tarter was a member at the local congregation where I was a pastor. His mother, Ann, donated the hay crop from her late stepfather Kenneth Sprouse’s farm. Week of Compassion helped us ship the hay from Kentucky to Louisiana and aided in the distribution of the bales to small family farmers. It was an example of families, congregations, and Week of Compassion working together to be a blessing.

Maria is deeply concerned about the humanitarian crisis in the Darfur region of Sudan. Week of Compassion allows us to serve the world’s refugees and stand beside the victims of violence. Last year, Maria was excited to reintroduce the Week of Compassion to the congregation she serves.

As the associate minister of Kentucky Appalachian Ministry, I am thankful for the Week of Compassion’s partnership with the flood victims in the Kentucky coalfields and Carter County.

Week of Compassion helps me live out my faith every day.

-Lon Oliver, Associate Regional Minister, Christian Church in Kentucky

Everyone Has a Gift to Bring!

To claim that these are not tough times would be stretching the truth. For most of us, the past couple of years have been financially challenging. The economic climate has affected all of us in some way, whether we’ve experienced the loss of a job, the foreclosure of our home, or the seemingly daily rising costs at the gas station and the grocery store. We’ve had difficult choices to make as we face our own hardship and declining resources. 

At the same time, our sisters and brothers are struggling to get by in the developing world and in parts of North America where disaster has struck or poverty exists. And the global food crisis is still, indeed, a crisis. It’s just not in the headlines. 

So we are not alone. We are in this together; we share a planet and we share so many of the same dreams. Sometimes those dreams are as simple as finding a job, providing our family with enough to eat, a roof over their heads, medical care if they get sick, and making sure our children get to school. Yet so many do not have a way to earn a living, enough to eat, a home to call their own, medical attention, or access to education. Some don’t even have adequate clean water, let alone a way to put a nutritional, hot meal on the table or a way to pay for school fees.

What is absolutely clear, though, is that THERE IS ENOUGH to go around. God created a world of abundance, where there are enough resources to feed and sustain the entire world. Yes, the entire world. Scientists, development theorists, and economists alike know this to be true. The World Food Programme confirms that “There is enough food in the world today for everyone to have the nourishment necessary for a healthy and productive life.”

Friends, this is good news! There truly is already enough! But some have more than others. Even during economic challenges, most of us receiving this update will not go to bed hungry. So our task is to share that good news of enough by sharing what we have. Whatever it is we have to give counts—regardless of amount—whatever you have to give counts! “For if the eagerness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has—not according to what one does not have. I do not mean that there should be relief for others and pressure on you, but it is a question of a fair balance between your present abundance and their need, so that their abundance may be for your need, in order that there may be a fair balance” (2 Cor 8:12-13). 

God is a God of compassion. God has given us life and a world where there is already enough for all and has granted us free will so that we, together, might act in one accord as the body of Christ on earth to collaborate on how we might share this world of enough in ways that ensure that everyone gets a part of the plenty.

This is what the ministry of Week of Compassion is all about. For 67 years we have been making a difference, sharing joy through this offering which funds relief and development all over the world. Your gift to Week of Compassion ensures that people in need will get what they need. Your gift moves us one step closer to making sure that everyone gets what is rightfully theirs, just as God created the world to be. 

And “through the testing of this ministry you glorify God by your obedience to the confession of the gospel of Christ and by the generosity of your sharing with them and with all others, while they long for you and pray for you because of the surpassing grace of God that he has given you. Thanks be to God for this indescribable gift!” (2 Cor 9: 13-15)

God provides. All that is ours is God’s, so everyone has a gift to give. God has created a world where there is more than enough. The sheer joy of that blessing is then sharing it! 

My hope is that you will discover the joy in sharing the indescribable gifts only you can bring this Week of Compassion. 

Severe Winter Response in Texas

 The LORD watches over the strangers;
   he upholds the orphan and the widow.
   --Psalm 146:9

Winter storms have rocked much of the United States over the last few weeks; ice and snow have not only affected areas that are accustomed to severe winter weather, but people in a variety of places have struggled with weather-related risks and needs that they are neither prepared for nor accustomed to responding to.

Southwest Good Samaritan Ministries supports refugees and vulnerable people in the Rio Grande Valley. (photo by SWGSM)But in the midst of that, your gifts have made a difference. Following last week’s winter storms, many of the people served by Disciples mission center and Week of Compassion partner Southwest Good Samaritan Ministries near Los Fresnos, TX, in the Rio Grande Valley found themselves in dire need. The temperature had dropped to well below freezing, an unusual drop in south Texas, even in February. Snow and ice made their way to Los Fresnos, and refugee families aided by SWGSM were among the most vulnerable to the effects of the snow and cold.

Because of your faithful partnership and support, we were able to contact our partners at Church World Service  and get more than 1000 blankets from their Blankets+ program to the refugees and other vulnerable populations served by SWGSM.

Partnership—woven in trust, mutual care, and hope—made the difference in the lives of people who needed warmth in the midst of a brutal winter. Your gifts to the CWS Blankets+ program through Week of Compassion have been a blessing to folks at SWGSM and all over the country.

But even now, needs continue. Along with blankets, Church World Service provides other material needs to folks in need during disasters large and small. Currently, Church World Service School Kits and Clean-Up Bucket inventories are severely low. Though the winter chill may make it seem otherwise, it’s not too early to prepare for spring floods, and these kits will help provide supplies needed by people affected by flooding.

For information on assembling the kits and buckets, follow this link.

You can also respond through Week of Compassion by donating here. We give thanks to God for all of you who made this response possible. Your warm hearts continue to keep others safe from the cold.

Register for the Souper Bowl of Caring this "Souper Bowl" Sunday

As many of us gather to watch the game on Sunday, let us take action for those without even a bowl of soup to eat. Thousands of youth from across the country will join in the fight against hunger and poverty this Sunday, Feb. 6, through our partner, Souper Bowl of Caring. While helping to respond to hunger in their own community and the world, youth learn that God can use them to make a positive difference in the lives of others. No matter the size of the school or congregation, we all can help provide shelter to the homeless, food to the hungry and compassion to the needy. The Souper Bowl of Caring is as simple as holding soup pots at church doors following worship and asking worshippers to drop in an offering to help people who are hungry. Each participating group donates 100% of their collection to the charity or charities of their choice, including Week of Compassion. 

All you have to do is:

  • REGISTER at www.souperbowl.org 
  • RECEIVE donations on Super Bowl Sunday
  • REPORT your donations at www.souperbowl.org
  • DONATE your offerings to the charity of your choice, such as Week of Compassion

As many of us gather to watch the game on Sunday, let us also take action for those without even a bowl of soup to eat.

Relief Efforts in Brazil

The death toll from landslides and flooding last month in Brazil has risen to 840, making it the second-worst disaster in Brazil's recorded history, officials said. More than 20,000 were made homeless from the floods and landslides, which occurred in a mountainous region near Rio de Janeiro. The area -- the Serrana region -- was hit with the equivalent of a month's rain in a 24-hour period. At least 207 and as many as 540 people are missing. Damage to homes and bridges has been extensive. Some 104 bridges and 6864 houses have been destroyed.

Week of Compassion gifts have been directed to our major implementing partner, Church World Service, as well as ACT Alliance member Koinonia, a Brazilian ecumenical service organization which is the lead ACT-member agency in this response. Our overall response will include supplying 1,218 affected families in the three municipalities of Teresópolis, Petropolis and Nova Friburgo with food items and hygiene kits. Food packages will include dried meat and fish; nutritional supplements, eggs, beetroot, squash and bananas. These families will also receive organic fertilizers and pesticides as well as basic irrigation equipment to enable them to rebuild their market gardens. Your Week of Compassion offerings are also providing basic household goods and equipment to 200 families whose homes were damaged or destroyed. 

Winter Storms Affect Many across the Country

We are in contact with the regional ministers of those areas affected by this latest round of winter storms and, as always, will respond when necessary.

Week of Compassion Special Offering February 20-27—Sharing Brings Joy!

For over 65 years, Disciples across North America have shared their resources with a hurting world through Week of Compassion, bringing joy to God. We have been changed by God’s gift of Jesus. God lives! In us! And God’s love moves through us to bring help and blessing to hurting lives. We have been changed because of God’s love for us. As a result, we want nothing more than to pass on that love to a world in need. Following in Jesus’ footsteps, we give our hard-earned resources through Week of Compassion to help

  • build homes, schools, medical clinics, and clean water and sewage facilities in villages devastated by earthquakes, floods, and poverty;
  • bring safety, shelter, and food to refugees after often violent circumstances have made their hometowns uninhabitable;
  • nurture stronger futures and self sufficiency through health care, education, job training, and tools for livelihoods.

Sharing invites God more fully into our lives. As we reach out in love, we open the way for God to reach more deeply into us. Sharing will joyfully transform you as you help transform the world. Week of Compassion: sharing resources, changing lives, bringing joy.

Accompanying the Displaced

Disciples resettled 1,204 refugees last year! The Disciples’ Refugee and Immigration Ministries program, under the leadership of Jennifer Riggs, is located in Disciples Home Missions (DHM) and supported by your Week of Compassion offerings. The largest groups came from Bhutan, Burma, Cuba, Iran, Iraq, and Somalia. Due to the Haiti earthquake, for the first time in many years a handful of Haitians were allowed into the United States, mostly for medical treatment. Also, an increasing number came from the Democratic Republic of Congo. We extend our thanks to all the Disciples congregations who were involved in various refugee and immigration ministries. 
 
Learn more here
 
The Makola family, recently resettled from the Democratic Republic of Congo with the support of Crestwood Christian Church, Lexington, KY, pose for a snapshot.Key to Week of Compassion’s ministry of compassion, thanks to your gifts, is partnership. The Refugee and Immigration Ministries staff of DHM and the many congregations who have helped with resettlement make a huge difference in the lives of people fleeing violence, persecution, and dehumanizing treatment. If you would like to be part of this compassionate ministry, we invite you to partner with us and also explore how your congregation might get involved
 
We give thanks to God, who cares for all who sojourn in search of safety, shelter, and hope! 
 

Severe Weather the World Over: Week of Compassion Responds to Those in Need

Floods, Mudslides, and Heavy Rains in Brazil
As you have undoubtedly seen in the news, Brazil is facing its worst climatic catastrophe in decades, after nonstop heavy rain in the southeast caused floods and mudslides in many cities, especially the state of Rio de Janeiro. Millions of people are affected. A total of 630 people have died. Authorities fear the death toll could climb as rescue workers retrieve more victims buried under collapsed homes and buildings.

ACT Alliance member organizations in Brazil are responding. Your Week of Compassion gifts are contributing to that response—which will be ongoing. ACT members Koinonia, Lutheran Foundation of Diaconia (FLD), Ecumenical Coordinator of Services (CESE), Diaconia and Christian Aid-Brazil are acting together to support the affected population. Community-based churches in the cities have already deployed emergency response and offered solidarity with the victims. A rehabilitation project, under the coordination of Koinonia and the accompaniment of other ACT member organizations in Brazil, will also be drawn up. Week of Compassion will continue to support these efforts. Our hearts go out to the people of Brazil. 

Queensland Flooding Update
The effects of these devastating floods in Australia will be felt for a long time, not just in the communities that have been washed away, but also in the national economy as stock and crops have been destroyed and mines temporarily closed. The flooded regions are greater in area than France and Germany combined. In association with Lifeline Community Care Queensland and the Queensland Synod of the Uniting Church in Australia, Week of Compassion has contributed to these efforts, through Global Ministries, to assist flood-affected communities in Queensland in the clean-up efforts and with immediate resources needed to assist this. The church will also provide on-going pastoral care to those communities that need help. 

Additionally, Week of Compassion has contributed to the relief work through the Churches of Christ in Queensland. As the flooding in Queensland increases to an unprecedented level, our prayers and thoughts go out to everyone who has been affected. The unrelenting floods have had a devastating affect on the entire state. We will continue to respond through our ecumenical family as needs arise. 

Flooding in Sri Lanka
Over the last several days the Batticaloa District of Sri Lanka has been hit by the worst floods in over 50 years. Heavy rains led to severe flooding in several communities, and the release of waters from reservoirs to prevent breaches in their banks has led to the lagoon level rising, swamping roads and residential areas. Roads have become impassable and numerous villages have been forced to evacuate. According to official disaster management sources, 232,571 people have been displaced. Our Global Ministries partner, the Church of the American Ceylon Mission (CACM), is providing emergency and relief supplies of dried foods, clothes and mosquito nets to families as they return to their homes. Week of Compassion, through Global Ministries, is supporting the work of CACM as they work to meet the needs of 1,000 families.

Earthquake in Pakistan
A 7.2 earthquake has hit a remote area of southwestern Pakistan. Yesterday’s quake was centered in Baluchistan, Pakistan's most sparsely populated area, according to the US Geological Service. The quake was felt in several neighboring provinces and in major cities, including Karachi.

Church World Service in Pakistan, which has a long record of responding after earthquakes, including the 7.5-magnitude quake that hit Pakistan in 2005, will conduct assessments and respond if needed. As always, Week of Compassion stands ready to contribute to that response. We lift up the people of Pakistan as they experience yet another disaster.

This is the Day: Remembering Haiti

35 seconds can change your life. 

In a mere 35 seconds, the lives of hundreds of thousands of Haitians were changed. The earthquake that shook and shocked the island nation of Haiti on this day, already one year ago, lasted only 35 seconds. 

35 seconds. 

I sit in silence and prayerfully count to myself. One, two, three...thirty-five. I slowly open my eyes and know that I am still here, breathing, listening, seeing. I am alive. The pure white snow of this cold, midwestern winter day could easily trick me into believing that the rest of the world looks and feels just as calm, peaceful, and beautiful as where I am. But I know better. I know that it took only 35 seconds for 300,000 lives to end and more than 1.5 million lives to be displaced and wounded in every way. And so my mind and my heart are in Haiti, especially, today, just as they have been each and every day in the last year. 

Thanks to you and your compassion, your gifts, your generosity, and your commitment, Week of Compassion responded immediately to the overwhelming needs resulting from this most devastating earthquake. Thanks to the dedication and hard work of our partner organizations on the ground in Haiti, we are making a difference. 

Yes, we are making a difference in Haiti!

Week of Compassion-supported food co-operatives, through our partners CWS, Foods Resource Bank, and the Christian Center for Integrated Development, are in the northern Haitian regions of the Northwest and Artibonite. They are currently facing challenges after this past hurricane season. But they’re also meeting the challenge of providing food for their members and their families. “It means life to us,” Elvius St. Fulis (pictured here) a member of one of the co-ops, said earlier this week.Despite the frequent discouraging reports of the mainstream media from Haiti in the last year, we, as Church, are making a difference in thousands of Haitian lives because of the way we work together with local communities and partners—accompanying and empowering them to support themselves. We are a critical partner in the rebuilding of a nation-wide health system for Haiti through our partnership with IMA World Health. We are accompanying farmers in 13 agricultural cooperatives through our partnership with Foods Resource Bank. We are working with peasant organizations to create more livelihood opportunities through our partnership with Agricultural Missions, Inc. We are providing trauma care and training to pastors and other caregivers in Haiti through our partnership with Eastern Mennonite University’s STAR Program. We are a part of the ACT Alliance, working round-the-clock to rebuild Haiti. 

For a closer look at how we are doing so and how your gifts are at work through our implementing partner, Church World Service, take just a few moments to watch this video, Haiti: One Year Later.

We are, indeed, participants and witnesses to the amazing steps all of our partners are taking in Haiti. And we are not going anywhere! Your gifts, given out of love and commitment to the people and the sustainable development of Haiti, will be at work for years to come. For the latest reports from Global Ministries on the recovery progress of our partners CONASPEH and FOPJ (the House of Hope), whose ministries are supported by Week of Compassion, please visit here.

I invite you to take 35 seconds out of your day today to sit in silence and prayerfully count to 35, honoring all those who lost their lives one year ago today and all those rebuilding their lives in Haiti today. I invite you to imagine how your life could change in a mere 35 seconds. Might you consider a recurring gift to Week of Compassion, in the amount of $35? Might you make it possible for Week of Compassion to continue our decades-long legacy of immediate, efficient, effective, and accountable response? 35 seconds. $35 a month. Lives changed. 

I know that my life has been forever changed because of this incredible ministry of compassion that we share. As sad as I feel today, remembering all that happened in our beloved Haiti on this day last year, I have hope. I have never lost hope, thanks to you, and thanks to our Sustainer and Redeemer, the One who brings joy in the morning, even though weeping may have endured all night long. And thanks to the Haitians themselves, whose invincible spirit of faith and hope model for me what it means to sing praises to our God, no matter what.

For even this day, this tragic day in history, is a day that our ever-faithful God has made. 

I’m glad to be back from my sabbatical to continue making a difference alongside you. 

-Amy Gopp

For more information on Week of Compassion’s response in Haiti:

/haiti

An overview of the ACT Alliance’s work in Haiti over the past year

Some of the key facts and figures relating to ACT’s work in Haiti over the past year

Photography: Camp life

Photography: Back to school

Story: Give us our land

http://www.imaworldhealth.org/archive/haiti-day-of-prayer.html

www.churchworldservice.org/presskits

www.youtube.com/churchworldservice

http://www.imaworldhealth.org/where-we-work/haiti.html

http://www.foodsresourcebank.org/Programs_and_Projects/1/a0bA0000000TwRAIA0

http://www.emu.edu/cjp/pti/star/

/updates/2010/6/1/haiti-where-to-begin.html

Weekly Roundup

Flooding in Australia

Partnering with the Uniting Church of Australia and the Churches of Christ in Queensland, Week of Compassion has responded to the flooding that has caused massive damage in Australia. Pictures of the devastation are included in this report. If you would like to contribute to this effort, please consider a donation to Week of Compassion's designated flood account.

Day of Prayer for Haiti

At 4:53 pm on January 12, 2010, a 7.0-magnitude earthquake rocked Port au Prince and the surrounding areas, killing hundreds of thousands and leaving nearly a million more homeless, hurting and in need. Join IMA World Health in remembering Haiti during the anniversary of the earthquake, and choose a day that works for your congregation for a Day of Prayer anytime in January. For more information and resources, follow this link.

Ivory Coast: Swift Action Now Will Prevent Humanitarian Disaster

The spectre of widespread violence raised by the disputed presidential election of November 2010 has caused people to flee in large numbers across the border to Liberia. While the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates there to be around 15,000 refugees, ACT Alliance’s assessor puts the number far higher.

Read More

Severe Flooding in Australia

We are currently monitoring the flooding that struck Australia over the last week and have responded initially through our partners at Global Ministries and the Uniting Church in Australia. We will let you know once a targeted appeal is issued. In the meantime, consider a donation to our Response Fund, so that we can respond quickly to needs in Australia as they arise.

2010 Final Response Fund Report

Dear Friends,

As 2010 comes to a close, we at Week of Compassion would like to take the opportunity to update you on the many ways your gifts have helped meet needs both here and abroad over the last twelve months.

Our partnership with you is at the heart of this ministry. Nothing can happen in this ministry without your gifts. We are grateful for all of the ways you have helped people in deep need, whether investing in long-term sustainable development projects in Uganda, responding to needs arising from floods or to vandalism affecting our local congregations. For each grant represented below, there are numerous people whose lives were touched by your willingness to proclaim that there is enough and reach out with Courageous Compassion.

Africa: [88,871]
$1,500 - Angola, emergency
$8,500 – DR Congo, humanitarian crisis
$6,000 – DR Congo, eastern DRC conflict & displacement
$1,665 - Kenya, water wells
$13,446 – Kenya, water project
$5,000 – Mali, drought relief
$5,000 – Mauritania, drought relief
$4,000 – Republic of Congo, train accident
$1,500 – Republic of Congo, medical needs
$3,000 - Somalia, assistance to Somali IDPs & refugees
$2,500 – South Africa, emergency assistance
$8,000 – Sudan, South Sudan drought relief
$5,000 – Sudan, emergency preparedness
$10,000 – Sudan, Darfur humanitarian aid
$6,000 - Uganda, mudslides
$5,760 - Zimbabwe, water wells
$2,000 – Zimbabwe, medical needs

East Asia and the Pacific: [26,500]
$11,000 – China, earthquake
$6,000 – China, flood relief
$2,500 – China, mudslides
$2,500 – Fiji, cyclone relief
$4,500 – Philippines, typhoon relief & recovery

Latin America and the Caribbean: [840,333]
$2,500 – Argentina, tornado relief
$69,500 - Chile, earthquake
$5,000 – El Salvador, floods & mudslides
$5,000 – El Salvador, TS Agatha
$14,500 – Guatemala, TS Agatha floods
$717,500 – Haiti, earthquake
$3,333 – Haiti, hurricane recovery
$2,000 – Mexicali, earthquake
$6,000 – Mexico, earthquake
$10,000 – Mexico, flood relief
$5,000 – Nicaragua, TS Agatha

Middle East and Europe: [13,000]
$6,000 – Gaza/West Bank, humanitarian assistance
$7,000 - Iraq, assistance to IDPs & refugees

Southern Asia: {120,510}
$15,000 – India, tropical storm relief
$5,000 – India, food security
$2,000 – India, disaster risk reduction
$6,000 – Pakistan, post-conflict rehabilitation
$7,510 – Pakistan/Afghanistan, security crisis
$75,000 – Pakistan, flood relief
$10,000 – Thai/Burma, refugee assistance

General: [24,000]
$24,000 - 2010 ACT Rapid Response Fund
    Madagascar, cyclone recovery
    Zambia, flood relief
    Pakistan, displacement due to flooding
    El Salvador, floods & mudslides
    Honduras, TS Agatha
    Romania, flood relief
    Brazil, flood relief
    Chad/Cameroon, flood relief
    India, flood relief
    DR Congo, wildfires
    Nicaragua, tropical storm
    Uganda, flood relief
    India, Cyclone Jal
    Angola, flood relief
    Uganda, unidentified disease

Domestic: [128,853]
$1,000 - Alabama, oil spill/economic impact
$1,000 – Alabama, tornado relief
$5,000 – Appalachia, emergency heating needs
$5,000 – Arizona, emergency water needs
$1,000 – Arkansas, house fire
$700 – California, vandalism to churches
$500 – California, flood relief
$500 – Colorado, emergency assistance
$2,500 – Florida, long-term disaster recovery
$1,500 – Florida, oil spill/economic impact
$100 – Illinois, church flood
$1,300 – Illinois, resettled refugee assistance
$500 – Indiana, storm damage
$200 – Indiana, flood relief
$750 – Indiana, house fire
$750 – Iowa, tornado damage
$7,700 – Iowa, flood relief
$1,750 – Kansas, feeding ministry
$4,100 – Kentucky, flood relief
$200 – Kentucky, church vandalism
$9,500 - Louisiana, long-term hurricane recovery
$750 – Louisiana, flood recovery
$500 – Michigan, local development
$2,000 – Missouri, flood relief & recovery
$750 – Missouri, house fire
$1,500 – Montana, tornado/flood relief
$1,000 – New Jersey, flood relief
$750 – North Carolina, flood damage
$1,523 – Ohio, resettled refugee assistance
$5,000 – Oklahoma, hail damage
$3,500 – Oklahoma, flood relief
$500 – Oklahoma, church fire
$34,600 – Tennessee, flood relief & recovery
$500 – Tennessee, house fire
$4,000 - Texas, hurricane recovery
$720 – Texas, resettled refugee assistance
$500 – Texas, flood relief
$200 – Virginia, church damage
$500 – West Virginia, coal mine tragedy
$500 - U.S., 2010 winter storms
$5,250 - U.S., NE states storms appeal
$5,000 – U.S., 2010 spring storms
$4,760 – U.S., refugee assistance
$8,000 – U.S., 2010 summer emergencies
$1,000 – U.S., refugee assistance

To Be a Neighbor


Some folks I know here in Kansas City recently told me a story.

A young couple who had lived in the heart of downtown among other hipster urbanites bought a house two and a half years ago in an older suburb with a quaint small town feel. Their dress, their politics, their beliefs, their interest in the arts—all made them stand out a little bit from their neighbors.

Two and a half years went by—and no neighbor said hello, no neighbor started a conversation. One set of neighbors even turned their backs every time they saw them walking down the street.

So they decided to fight back.

With sugar cookies.

This year, they made several batches of cookies, wrapped them up, and hand delivered them to their neighbors with cards that read, Thanks for being great neighbors!, determined to “deliver holiday cheer if it’s the last thing they do!”

They ended up having lovely visits with three of their four sets of neighbors. As for the fourth set, the ones who always turn their backs— the husband didn’t open the door more than a crack, and the wife stood several feet away, looking horrified at the strange young people at their door.

But at least the door opened a crack, right?

I’ve been thinking about this story since I heard it. All three Abrahamic traditions connect the act of being a neighbor with the experience of being a stranger:

Why are we good neighbors? Because we have all been strangers, wanderers, different, alone.

What does it mean to see the Christ? To see the outcast, the hungry, the poor.

Why give to the poor? Because that is what God calls us to do.

At the root of our movement of Courageous Compassion is a call to be neighborly. From Louisville to Pakistan, whether you help us respond to torrential rain or a church break-in, you are reaching out as a neighbor to people you may never meet. You come vulnerable, giving of yourself, as much a stranger to those you help as they are to you.

Why not take a chance and give of yourself? Why not reach out with Courageous Compassion

There might even be sugar cookies involved. 

Happy Christmastide!

Brandon

The Ancient Hope of Christmas

Come doubting, come sure
Come fearful to this door
Come see what love is for
Hallelujah
--Mary Chapin Carpenter


I love non-traditional spins on Christmas songs. Mary Chapin Carpenter’s song--a thoughtful original--is one of my favorites. Barenaked Ladies and Sarah McLaughlin do a wonderful medley of “We Three Kings” and “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen.” The banjo on Sufjan Stevens’ Christmas album gives “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” a whole new layer of beauty. Dar Williams’ “The Christians and the Pagans” takes me back to get-togethers in divinity school. And Tom Waits’ guttural version of “Go Tell It on The Mountain” with the Blind Boys of Alabama backing him up? That song does it for me every time.

There’s something about the ancient hope of Christmas--that love, peace, and reconciliation has come into the world in the most humble, unexpected way--that seems to beg to be retold in new, amazing ways. What I love about this little verse in Carpenter’s song is that the invitation of Christmas is a wide one—for the skeptics, for the die-hards, for the cynics, for the dreamers. It evokes that wide, indiscriminate blessing from Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol:  “God bless us, every one.”

At Week of Compassion, we want to thank you so much for a year in which you have reached out with your own Courageous Compassion to so many people around the world. You have done everything you can to make room at the table for every one hurt and in need of healing, every one who has suffered under the weight of significant disasters, every one working to find new ways to support her family or community, and every one who has sought refuge from conflicts engulfing his homeland.

On these days leading up to Christmas, I am praying prayers of thanks for you. Thank you for caring. Thank you for hoping. Thank you for partnering with us in a ministry that tries to be God’s blessing around the world, around the year.

On behalf of Amy, Elaine, and Stephen, I pray that your Christmas is filled with peace, hope, and new songs to share.

- Brandon

In Memoriam

 
Betty L. Tankersley of Carmel, Indiana, passed away unexpectedly on December 16, 2010. Betty was a graduate of Leavenworth (KS) High School and Chapman University (CA). At 19, she married her high school sweetheart, Larry D. Tankersley, who served as Director of Week of Compassion from 1972-1992. Their marriage survived 44 years, until his death in 1999. During this time, they helped each other obtain their respective formal educations and raise 3 children. She and Larry served congregations in Enid, Oklahoma; Richardson, Corpus Christi and Kingwood, Texas; Miami, Florida; and Fullerton, California. After retiring from the pastorate, they continued to serve many, many people through their service with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the National Council of Churches. Betty also served as director for the adult re-entry program at Chapman University and was a successful realtor. Following her retirement in 1999, Betty continued to serve others in her capacity as a volunteer for St. Vincent Hospital, Indianapolis, and the Carmel Senior Center. She was also very active in her role as an elder of Carmel Christian Church.

A memorial service is set for Wednesday, December 29, 2010, at 1:00 p.m. at Carmel Christian Church, 463 East Main Street, Carmel, IN. Visitation will begin at 12:00 p.m. Memorial contributions may be made in Betty's name to the Christian Church Foundation for the WoC- Tankersley Fund, c/o Christian Church Foundation, P. O. Box 1986, Indianapolis, IN 46206-1986.

 

Weekly Roundup

Celebrate a Courageous Christmas!

This Christmas, what if you gave the gift of clean water, the gift of a new start after a severe flood, the gift of a new way for communities to support themselves?

We invite you to share your passion for making a difference in the world by giving a Courageous Christmas gift on behalf of someone this holiday season.

Week of Compassion will send you a Courageous Compassion note card to give to those you are honoring this Christmas with your generous gift.

Please contact us by December 21 if you would like someone to receive either a note card personalized by Week of Compassion or an e-mail acknowledgement sent by WoC.

If you are intending to make an online gift requiring multiple acknowledgements, please first contact Elaine at ecleveland@woc.disciples.org. If you would like to donate by check, please send to WoC, PO Box 1986, Indianapolis, IN 46206.

Week of Compassion Partner IMA World Health Featured on ABC's 20/20


IMA World Health’s Safe Motherhood KitTM is scheduled to be featured on ABC’s 20/20 program this Friday, December 17 at 10:00 Eastern/9:00 Central. The special episode of 20/20 is entitled “Be the Change: Save a Life,” and according to ABC will focus on “six common health problems from around the world and what can be done to fix them.” 
 
The hosts will highlight a few simple measures that can make a significant impact for health, one of which will be the IMA Safe Motherhood KitTM.
 
More information about IMA and the Safe Motherhood KitTM is on their website. For a short ABC promotional video about the program, click here.

Diseases We Can Stop, But Don't

Some of the world's most glaring health problems affecting impoverished girls and women are also some of the easiest to address. The fact that we consistently fail to do so is puzzling.

Read more.

Disciple Mission Fund: Christmas Special Offering

Why is it that John 3:16 has been beloved for so long?

Perhaps it's because it speaks of the awesome generosity of God. Help support the development of faith, the creation of community, and the strengthening of the congregations in your Region by giving to the Christmas offering this year.

The New Hungry: College-Educated, Middle-Class Cope with Food Insecurity

Stories of “the new hungry” are flooding food banks across the country.

Read more here.

The Advent Spirit in a Detroit Courtroom

“Twelve years ago, it was a particularly bad day in Detroit. A storm came through as the temperature hovered just below freezing, and the precipitation switched between freezing rain and snow, making any outdoor movement treacherous.”
Read More.