Worship Resources In Response to Hurricane Florence

While we all hope and pray that the destructive impact of Hurricane Florence will be less than predicted, we also want to make available to you worship resources for this Sunday that you may wish to use in response.

Pray, Stay, and Give: In the midst of this or any natural disaster, Week of Compassion invites you to PRAY for those affected and those who are first responders, STAY -- as much as you might want to go the the disaster area to help your presence can actually cause more harm than good right now (and there will be plenty of opportunities as recovery gets underway), and GIVE:  Give through your congregation or through Week of Compassion’s website; 100% of your gifts designated for Hurricane Relief will go to that cause.

Below you will find worship resources for this Sunday that may help you and your congregation come before God in prayer for all those affected by Hurricane Florence.

Worship Resources for Hurricane Florence

Call to Worship     Adapted from Psalm 46

Leader: God is our refuge and our strength, an ever-present help in times of trouble.  Therefore we will not fear.

People:  Though the earth give way, though the seas roar, though the winds howl in their fury.

Leader:  God is with us; God does not fail us.

People:  Let us be still and know that God is indeed God, the One who never leaves us adrift, the One in whom we and all the earth live and move and have our very being.

Leader:  Thanks be to God!  Amen.

Responsive Prayer of Intercession and Hope

Leader: Let us pray for those near and far who are affected by storm and sea and rain and tumult:

People:  We pray for those who have lost loved ones, those whose homes are in tatters, those whose livelihoods have been lost, those who have been injured.

Leader: May God’s tender grace be with them, may God’s loving arms enfold them, may God’s hope grant them courage.

People:  We pray for those who respond with bravery and dedication and skill in the midst of danger and loss:  for firefighters and paramedics, police and soldiers, doctors and nurses, pastors and counselors, and all those who give of themselves to serve their neighbors in need.

Leader: May they know rest in the midst of danger, perseverance in the face of overwhelming need, and the thanks of those whom they serve.

People: We pray too for ourselves, O God.  May too many needs, too much sorrow, never leave us jaded or calloused.  May we open our hearts and offer our prayers and our gifts to those who are hurting.  May we never lose hope.

Leader: O God our help in ages past, and our hope for now and years to come, be with all those who need you in this and every hour.  May it be so, in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, one God, Mother of us all. Amen.

Call to Offering

Hurricanes and natural disasters bring out some of the best in people. Folks of every race, of every religion or no religion, of every class, step forth to help those who are hurting, whose lives are in shambles, who may wonder if anyone cares about them in the midst of so much suffering.  They need not wonder, for folks with trucks and boats have helped carry people to safety, have helped get desperately sick people to hospitals, have tried to make sure that families stay together and have a safe place to recover. But please know this: We too are those people. We may not drive a truck or pilot a boat, but we too can help our neighbors in such dire need.  We may want to join our hands to those on the Atlantic coast but now is not yet the time. But we can pray. And we can donate. Every dollar that you give for Hurricane Relief to Week of Compassion, our wider church family’s disaster relief ministry, will go to work through our partners to assist those impacted by this terrible storm. Those dollars will continue working too; long after the headlines have faded and the cameras have been turned off, Week of Compassion and its partners will still be there – as they are in Texas and Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands – helping with long-term recovery.  Will you give generously, knowing that your gifts will help both right now and in the months and years to come?

Pastoral Prayer/Prayers of the People

O God, you have been our rock, our comfort, our hope from generation to generation.  For your abiding love that never leaves us, for your grace that enfolds this whole earth, for your care which invites us to care along with you, we are grateful.  This morning our prayers are especially with all those in every part of this world who are dealing with natural disaster, but especially those in the path of Hurricane Florence.  We pray for those who have lost loved ones, for communities that are in tatters, for lives that have been upended and livelihoods destroyed. We pray that all of these would know your presence, and that they might know that they are cared for by folks near and far.  We thank you for all who brave danger to assist those in need: firefighters and police and paramedics and doctors and nurses and soldiers and counselors. Be with them, O God, in their noble and too often scary work. Finally, O Lord of Life, we pray for ourselves. May we open our hearts and hands to the needs of our brothers and sisters, may we pray for them daily, may we dig deep to give of our resources to assist.  We thank you, God, for the privilege of doing these things, to help in your name, the One whose love lets none of us go, now and forever. Amen.

Communion Meditation/Call to Communion

In communion with Christ, we are joined with the trials and sufferings of all. This morning we pray that through Christ we too would be with those who endure the wind, rain, and flooding from Hurricane Florence.

As we come to this Table, we pray to the Lord:  Protect those in the path of danger, open the pathways of evacuations, help loved ones find one another in the chaos, provide assistance to those who need help.

May Christ’s presence be known to all those who are fearful and discouraged, just as He makes His presence known in the breaking of the bread and the sharing of the cup – at this Table and around the world, in every nation, among every people.  

These are the gifts of God for God’s people!  Let us come with joy and gratitude and hope.

(Lightly adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship: Occasional Services for the Assembly, page 394)

Forced From Their Homes: Water & Sanitation Assistance for Congolese Refugees

The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) has long had a presence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Community of Disciples of Christ in Congo was founded in 1899, and has witnessed faithfully over the decades. The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada celebrates our kinship with the Disciples in the DRC and joins them in prayer for Congolese citizens displaced by violence.

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WASH station.  Photo by Abrao

They seem like such simple things: a peaceful night's sleep that isn't interrupted by gunfire, knowing that your home today will most likely be your home tomorrow, getting up in the middle of the night and walking a few steps to get a glass of water that is safe and not potentially disease-ridden, making use of safe and hygienic sanitation facilities.

But many of our brothers and sisters in central Africa have no such luxuries.  Over the last two years, a violent conflict between militias and government forces in the Kasai region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo has displaced 1.4 million people, upwards of 25,000 of whom have fled to a refugee camp and the surrounding villages in Lovua in neighboring Angola. These numbers have seriously strained the water, sanitation, and health infrastructure, again threatening the inhabitants who have already lost so much. Our partner, ACT Alliance, staff member Abraham Mushivi notes: "The refugees do not have shelter, enough food or proper sanitation. All are in urgent need of protection, medical and psychosocial assistance, shelter, food and basic relief items. Many of those who have fled report harassment, violence and killing," including burning houses, rape, and recruiting children into armed forces or using them as human shields.   

Week of Compassion partners are on the ground to assist: supplying villages with "WASH stations" (consisting of adequate and safe drinking water and sanitary hygiene facilities) to the benefit of almost 10,000 persons.  This helps keep illness at bay, allowing children to go to school and families to begin "backyard farming" to improve their nutrition. Safe water and hygienic sanitation seem like such simple things, but they are key priorities to begin to help those who have been driven from house and homeland.

Your generous gifts allow this work to continue.

Week of Compassion is closely monitoring Hurricane Florence and Tropical Storm Olivia as they threaten, respectively, the U.S. mid-Atlantic coast and the Hawaiian islands. For the latest information on the storms and how you can help, follow Week of Compassion's Facebook page. This week and next also mark the one-year anniversaries of Hurricanes Irma and Maria. As we respond to the immediate needs of current storms, we continue to support the long-term recovery of communities affected last fall. We pray for God's peace to fill these anxious days.

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A few months ago, we reported to you on terrible famine conditions in Kenya due to ongoing severe drought. In a cruelly ironic turn, in the late spring, torrential rains and flooding made the famine crisis even worse. Week of Compassion partner, Church World Service, reports that over 300,000 people along the Tana River in Kenya were affected by floods, and the death toll was 118. While you may think that rain would be a blessing to drought-plagued areas, too much rain in too little time on soil that has been so hardened and baked under the relentless sun (which cannot, therefore, absorb water) leads to devastating runoffs and rivers that overflow their banks.

Photo: Church World Service

Photo: Church World Service

In hardest-hit Tana River County, over 12,000 households lost a total of almost $4 million dollars’ worth of crops. Aided by your gifts to Week of Compassion, Church World Service is leading the response to the flooding in Tana River County. Together, we are serving 910 households -- or nearly 7,300 people -- as they temporarily reside in camps on higher ground. Those driven from their homes by the floods receive food kits containing maize, rice, beans, cooking oil, and three water containers per household member. Clean water (and safe sanitation facilities) are also a essential priorities for these displaced folks, and Church World Service has made available water purification systems to every household, along with community water tanks and mobile toilets.


Photo courtesy of Church World Service

Photo courtesy of Church World Service

Behind each of these statistics is a family threatened by disease and hunger. Your gifts to Week of Compassion give families relief from those fears and hope for the future.

Thank you for your continuing generosity.

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Week of Compassion--in conjunction with Disciples Home Missions, and Global Ministries-- is working with the Iglesia Cristiana (Discipulos de Cristo) to support recovery efforts in Puerto Rico. Registration is open for teams of volunteers/ambassadors to assist with rebuilding homes and to build relationships with our Puerto Rican Disciples. For more information, see www.discipleshomemissions.org/pr-response]

As multiple severe wildfires rage across California, Week of Compassion is in regular contact with pastors and partners in the area to provide relief. We will continue to monitor the fires and will continue to support affected communities as they move into long-term recovery in the months ahead.


Julio's and Belkis' destroyed home in Punta Alegre.  Credit: Cuban Council of Churches

Julio's and Belkis' destroyed home in Punta Alegre.  Credit: Cuban Council of Churches

The picturesque fishing village of Punta Alegre, Cuba, lies on the north coast of Cuba, 230 miles east of  Havana. On September 15, 2017, Hurricane Irma utterly devastated the town with sustained winds of 149 mph. Local journalist, Miriam Celaya, wrote: "After the catastrophe, when the inhabitants of Punta Alegre began to come out of the few remaining homes or shelters in which they had taken refuge temporarily, they encountered a panorama of utter devastation. A pile of debris, sea corals, chunks of roofs, scraps of furniture, tree branches, and mud stretched over what once was a quiet coastal town. Some fishing boats had been swept by the sea into the village and floated between houses."[1]

The need after such devastation - which also severed communication and transportation links with the Cuban government - was (and continues to be) enormous. Working with Global Ministries and through our partners, ACT Alliance and the Cuban Council of Churches, Week of Compassion has been making available food kits, household items, newborn care items, basic hygiene items and equipment for access to safe water. The story of two Punta Alegre residents is mirrored by scores of others: In the very centre of Punta Alegre, the home of husband and wife Julio and Belkis was almost completely destroyed by the hurricane. Only the walls of their recently remodeled kitchen remained intact, as well as those of the dining room, which they had to re-roof and now use as a bedroom. Although they are close to retirement age, they both work.

Their income barely covers debts owed for previous purchases of construction material, so Julio and Belkis have no idea of how they will obtain the necessary material for the difficult task of rebuilding their home. With support from Week of Compassion partners, Punta Alegre residents are able to purchase building materials and re-start businesses to restore income for both daily necessities and re-building.

Full recovery from this devastation will take many years, and Week of Compassion and its partners continue to assist the residents of Punta Alegre with the everyday necessities of life that are so often taken for granted until disaster sweeps them away. Thanks to your gifts to Week of Compassion, the residents of this village know that they have neighbors who care and who will continue to care.

[1] Miriam Celaya , "The Hurricane Has Delivered Punta Alegre the Coup de Grace." Â https://translatingcuba.com/the-hurricane-has-delivered-punta-alegre-the-coup-de-grace/

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No Holes in These Buckets! Defeating Cholera in Haiti

(Late-breaking update: Even as our partner, IMA World Health, works hard to combat the scourge of cholera, violence in Haiti has made that job much more difficult.  IMA staff have had to be evacuated due to recent violence in Haiti's capital. Please keep these mission partners and the people of Haiti in your prayers)

 An American children's ditty sings (in verse after verse) that "there's a hole in the bucket," and that hole makes it impossible to do something that needs doing.  Fortunately, there were no holes in the buckets distributed by Week of Compassion mission partner IMA World Health to those in Haiti threatened by an outbreak of cholera.   

Cholera is a too-often deadly disease that is borne in contaminated water. Haiti had not seen a cholera outbreak in nearly a century, but after the devastating 2010 earthquake, the disease killed 9500 people. Cholera thrives where sanitation is inadequate, and the earthquake damaged much of the sanitation infrastructure across the island. The situation became much worse following torrential rains and flooding in the fall of 2017.



Victor Daphne, 12, stops on his way home from school, Eglise La Foi Apostolique, to help carry buckets to his community in Port-Margot. The buckets are distributed as part of Haiti's Ministry of Public Health and Population's Cholera Program. (Photo by Kara Eberle/IMA World Health)

Working with Haiti's Ministry of Cholera Program, IMA trained twenty-five health workers and sent them into the most disease-threatened areas to equip people with information about healthy hygiene and the importance of safe sanitation. Along with that information, workers distributed water-purification tablets and rehydration salts - and buckets! Each household received two buckets: one with a lid and one without. One bucket is to carry water from the source to their homes, and the other is to store drinking water after it has been purified. Members of each household also received instruction on additional ways to purify water and on how to treat cholera symptoms with home remedies. Dr. Paul-Emile Dalexis, who manages the program for IMA, describes the buckets as a vital tool. "Without the buckets," he said, "people don't have supplies for water conservation."

Cholera is a terrible disease that can swiftly lead to dehydration and shock. It can be deadly within hours if not treated with oral or intravenous rehydration. Yet it is easily deterred with the right equipment and information - and something as simple as a bucket! Thanks to your gifts through Week of Compassion and the partnership between the Ministry and IMA, 7900 families now have the means and knowledge to protect themselves from cholera and continue living a healthy life.

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A Choice No Mother Should Ever Have to Make by Tana Liu-Beers, Disciples Immigration Legal Counsel

Yesica and Yani were small children when their mother left El Salvador to make the journey to the U.S. They grew up with their grandmother and made weekly phone calls to their mother in the United States. Their mom's earnings from the U.S. allowed them to go to school.

When Yesica and Yani were eleven and thirteen their walk to school changed. Someone started following them as they walked along the only highway leading to their school. After a few days that someone showed his face. They knew who he was. Everyone knew who he was: a gang member who had threatened their neighbors. Everyone in the neighborhood believed this young man and his associates had killed the uncle of a neighbor. Of course, they didn't have proof because the police wouldn't investigate. It was likely that the police were on his payroll. But when he told Yesica and Yani that they had to be his girlfriends, they understood what that meant. They understood that girls forced into his gang were constantly raped by all its members. They understood that to refuse meant certain death.

When Yesica and Yani finally told their mom what was going on, she immediately sent all her savings to El Salvador to pay to bring her daughters to the United States. She did not take lightly her decision to send her daughters on foot and atop trains across thousands of miles of desert and danger. She tried not to think of her own journey. She tried to get the girls on birth control, knowing the likelihood of assault on the road. It was a weighty decision, yet it was hardly a choice.

Yesica and Yani arrived at the U.S. border after being abandoned by a smuggler in the desert. They were detained by Customs & Border Protection. Despite their dehydration and exhaustion, they managed to express their fear of returning to Honduras convincingly enough to be allowed to apply for asylum. Months later the immigration judge refused to hear their claims. They were deported to Honduras in 2012. Their fate is unknown.


Tana Liu-Beers, Disciples Immigration Legal Counsel and former representative of Yesica and Yani, notes that cases like these are far too common and are even more likely under current immigration policies. On July 12, 2018, the U.S. immigration agencies, by order of the Attorney General, further foreclosed claims of asylum based on gang violence and domestic violence, which will undeniably result in more youth like Yesica and Yani being sent to their deaths.

For the sake of young people like Yesica, Yani, and countless others, Week of Compassion works with partners such as Disciples Immigration Legal Counsel, Disciples Refugee and Immigration Ministries, and Church World Service Immigration and Refugee Program to support advocacy and legal assistance. In the name of Jesus, who himself found safety and shelter in a foreign land, we seek the fair, compassionate, and hospitable treatment of immigrants and asylum-seekers.

Here are some things you can do right now:

  • Learn about how current policies are affecting our immigrant neighbors, and connect with immigrant communities in your area.
  • Call and visit your elected representatives to oppose policies of family separation and support legislation that will keep families together. (Information and resources are available through Disciples Refugee and Immigration Ministries  and Disciples Immigration Legal Counsel
  • Continue to pray, learn, and speak out!


In December of 2017, Marie (named changed for privacy) moved back into her home in Bertie County, North Carolina, just in time for Christmas. Over a year before, in October of 2016, 5 feet of water filled her home during flooding caused by Hurricane Matthew. Since that storm, many others have filled the headlines and captured our hearts and attention, most notably Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, which caused such extraordinary damage last fall.

Now, the 2018 Atlantic Hurricane Season is upon us. In fact, before the official start of the season on June 1, the first named storm of year, Subtropical Storm Alberto, formed in the Gulf of Mexico and doused the Southeast with heavy rain. High winds and high water caused damage from Alabama through Virginia.

A swollen creek washed out a road at Christmount Retreat, Camp, and Conference Center.

A swollen creek washed out a road at Christmount Retreat, Camp, and Conference Center.

In western North Carolina, a creek swollen by rains from Alberto washed out a road at Christmount Retreat, Camp, and Conference Center, potentially putting at-risk the busy summer camping season so important to youth and adult faith formation. As the summer camp schedule begins, Christmount will be able to make necessary repairs, with support from Week of Compassion. "Talk about fast, and on the ball," said Rob Morris, Executive Director at Christmount. "When the wind and rain washed our road away, Week of Compassion called the very next day. Now we're back up and running... thanks for the work you do."

Season after season, storms come, causing damage and disrupting lives. And storm after storm, Week of Compassion is there to provide support, assistance, and hope. Even as new seasons bring new storms, we walk with and work alongside communities in the process of recovery, not just in the immediate aftermath, but for months to come.

On the other side of the state, in Cumberland and Robeson Counties, as well as in Bertie County, recovery continues from Hurricane Matthew. Week of Compassion has helped enable community organizations to provide furniture to families moving back into their homes, to host recovery fairs where survivors can learn about available resources, and to facilitate home repairs.

Recovery continues, as well, in Volusia County, Florida, where many residents sustained damage both during Hurricane Matthew in 2016 and Hurricane Irma last fall. Volusia Interfaiths Networking in Disaster (VIND), which is housed at First Christian Church, Daytona, has helped dozens of homeowners move back into homes that are more resilient for future storms. "Homes are ready for repairs. We need more volunteers!" says the staff of VIND (click here for volunteer information).

Volunteers help FCC Port Arthur repair flood damage caused by Hurricane Harvey

Volunteers help FCC Port Arthur repair flood damage caused by Hurricane Harvey

Volunteers can also make an impact in Southeast Texas, where Hurricane Harvey caused catastrophic flooding. First Christian Church, Texas City is serving as a mission station with Disciples Volunteering. Texas City is part of Galveston County, an area where already vulnerable communities--with above average rates of poverty and aging populations--experienced devastating flooding. A local pastor and leader in the recovery describes the situation as a compelling story of need, but also one of great hope, as people have been reaching out to serve their neighbors. (click here for mission station information).

In Puerto Rico, where the damage from Hurricanes Irma and Maria is still extreme, and where electricity is still unreliable nine months after the storms, the congregations of the Iglesia Cristiana (Discípulos de Cristo) are combining recovery efforts with disaster preparedness. Last month, a group of Disciple pastors began designing and implementing a disaster communication network, which will connect congregations across the island in the event of an emergency. Additionally, as a program of home repairs is getting underway, additional investments in stronger materials and resilient building techniques will make homes safer in future storms.

Thank you for your faithful partnership and generous gifts, from season to season, storm upon storm, year after year.

Prepare Yourself For the Next Storm

From hurricanes to earthquakes to tornadoes, disasters can happen anywhere. If you are prepared before a disaster, you are more likely to be in a position to help after.

Find resources to prepare for hurricanes and all kinds of disasters at Ready.

Encourage your church to be prepared, too!

Emergency Management in Georgia has compiled a great set of resources for congregations called Praise and Preparedness.

The book, Help and Hope: Disaster Preparedness Response Tools for Congregations, edited by Amy Gopp and Brandon Gilvin is also a great resource for congregational preparedness. Available through Chalice Press:


Praying and Working to End Famine

"The Horn of Africa is facing its third consecutive year of drought causing thirst and hunger, decimating livestock, destroying livelihoods, spreading disease and triggering large scale population movements."  There is an almost unimaginable amount of misery contained in this statement from Week of Compassion disaster relief partner, ACT Alliance. Beneath this broad description is a daily struggle to survive by millions of people in what continues to be one of the most under-reported stories of our time.

Photo: ACT Alliance

Photo: ACT Alliance

The horror of this situation is real.

It is so very dry in Somalia that even the famously drought-resistant camels are dying. And in a country where so many people earn their meager livelihoods from agriculture, the death of such animals is life-threatening.  

It is so very dry in Kenya, that upwards of 70% of crops failed last year. Imagine having your food intake reduced by 70%. Imagine it for your children. There are over 2.5 million Kenyans who aren't imagining it but are forced to live it - with the consequent increase in infant deaths, stunting of children's development from malnutrition, and increase in devastating disease due to weakened immune systems from lack of adequate nutrition.

A little further to the north, Ethiopia is dealing not only with the devastating effects of drought, but also with ongoing armed conflicts in parts of the country. The government of Ethiopia has declared a state of emergency for the 10 million people affected, and, as our partners note, "Lives remain at risk due to shortage of food and water, and disease outbreaks coupled with malnutrition are prevalent." In South Sudan, IMA World Health staff member Matt 

Hackworth says, "Decades of civil war, economic and ecological strife keep South Sudan on the brink of famine. As this is the world's youngest country, it is critical now that caring people around the world- including donors to Week of Compassion - support the men, women and children at risk."

One of those children is named Teer Majak. He was brought to an IMA facility where he was diagnosed as severely malnourished with medical complications including convulsions, loss of appetite, high fever, sunken eyes, and yellowish skin. He was stabilized, his medical conditions addressed, and soon he began to grow and gain weight. In just three weeks he showed significant improvement.  Following a stay in an out-patient therapy and feeding program, he was able to be discharged with the hopes of now living a life not wracked with the  effects of chronic malnutrition.

Photo: ACT Alliance

Photo: ACT Alliance

The horror is real, but it does not need to be the end of the story. Week of Compassion has been responding to these crises and supporting our partners to provide relief.                                                    


  • Medical feeding centers, like the one that saved Teer provide critical nutrition, as do    school feeding programs and supplies of maize and beans, which are distributed in areas of extreme crop loss.

  • Cash vouchers for food and wages earned through well-restoration projects help bolster agriculture-dependent economies and provide food and water.

  • Water purification and pond de-silting efforts increase the availability of potable water, and hygiene and sanitation supplies help curtail water-borne diseases.

With your partnership and support, we will continue to help relieve the horrors of famine

Join us in observing a "Global Day of Prayer to End Famine" on June 10, 2018. Global Ministries and World Council of Churches websites have ideas for helping make folks aware of the need around the world on that day.

Continue to seek out stories about this situation and help keep the plight of these brothers and sisters in your and your fellow church members' consciousness.

Make a gift  to Week of Compassion designated for famine and drought relief, where 100% of your support will go to provide relief to affected communities.

Plumbing, Learning, and Playing-Improving Lives for Refugees in Tanzania

There are too many stories of refugees around the world which have not received the attention they should have.  One of those is the story of the almost 300,000 refugees who have left the political turmoil of Burundi and sought haven in Tanzania. As with so many refugee situations, a large portion of the impact of such uprooting falls on women.

Women often are the ones responsible for cooking for the family, caring for children, and seeking to ensure that the family is able to maintain basic hygiene--no small task in the midst of crowded refugee camps!

Photo: ACT Alliance

Photo: ACT Alliance

Through your support, Week of Compassion has been able to respond through our partner, ACT Alliance, in ways that help women and families have adequate food, housing, and water. In the Mtendeli camp, engineers worked to drill new wells and improve the productivity of existing wells. 300 hand washing stations were installed in the latrines for individual cleanliness.  One refugee, who works as a plumber, said: “I give thanks to ACT Alliance [for the] water network improvement. This reduced the risks of eruption of water-borne diseases and gender violence,” as women and girls no longer have venture beyond their households to collect water. Commenting on something most North Americans take for granted, another expressed appreciation for Week of Compassion’s contribution “for the construction of household latrines to our homes, as this helps in reducing risks of diseases, fights amongst ourselves over shared latrines, and environment cleanness as a whole.”

Week of Compassion also supported ACT Alliance in other vital services that improved lives of women and their families: 1800 participants met to discuss the implications and negative effects early and forced marriage have on women and the community in general and how damaging marriage practices needed to be abandoned. Women received group support with counselors as they navigated their situations. Classes to improve literacy and numeracy provided women and family members better tools for dealing with their situations. Another refugee said: ACT Alliance helped “by restoring hope, dignity, mental and social well-being that promote a sense of normality in the camps and encourage a stable and proactive life. The sports brought us refugees together, enable us forget our differences and increase the interactions while in the camp.”

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Photo by: ACT Alliance

Your gifts and generosity have made a real difference to people who have had to flee their homes. Your partnership helped bring dignity, safety, and diminishment of the threat of disease. Your support of Week of Compassion have done “more than you can imagine!”  Thank you!

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"Just ask your phone, Daddy."  "Mommy, just Google it." "Hey Google....?"  Even ten years ago, such sentences would have seemed nonsensical, but nowadays for most North Americans the easy availability of information through search engines and cell phones is nearly ubiquitous.  95% of Americans own a cell phone, and 80% own a smartphone. Such ready access to empowering information is something that North Americans have come to take for granted.

Photo: Carter Center

Photo: Carter Center

It's not that way everywhere.  In Guatemala, for example - and particularly among the women of Guatemala - the lack of ready access to information has made life harder than it needs to be.  A report from the Carter Center puts it succinctly:  "we know that information related to education, starting a business, and basic rights is the most critical for women's economic empowerment and the promotion and protection of rights....  With genuine access to information women can make more effective decisions with relation to education, land, and agricultural production."

Through the support of Week of Compassion, the Carter Center's "Global Access to Information Program" has worked with Guatemalan partner Acción Ciudadana to increase women's access to information.  Over 2000 women in Guatemala have been exposed to the opportunity to learn how to find information that will enhance their lives and economic security.  Acción Ciudadana has hired a team of local women to help other women obtain the information they need to better their lives and the lives of their families. Provisioned with laptops, the teams visit villages that have limited information access. Three hundred women have received assistance in making information requests regarding their rights or in securing information about resources available to them or their families. Again in the words of the Carter Center, "With genuine access to information, women can take advantage of opportunities to transform their lives, families, and communities."

Two brief stories show the power of information to create hope and transform lives:  In one of the most impoverished and isolated areas of Guatemala, a woman had been promised chickens from one of the government agencies but had never received them.  A Carter Center staff walked many hours and many miles into this village and was able to help the woman remind the agency of her request and their promise. Not long after, well over 100 chickens arrived -- which gave her children better nutrition (malnutrition in this part of the country is a dire problem) and allowed her to have the means to now supplement her family's income through the sale of eggs.  A second woman, 34 years old, who suffered from epilepsy was assisted by Carter Center staff to find out what assistance was available from the government and to make a request for -- and receive! -- help in accessing a specialist to assist her with her medical situation and the drugs she needed.

On this International Women's Day, we are grateful for your support and financial gifts to the Week of Compassion Women Empowerment Fund, which helped make this work possible in places such as Guatemala and all over the world. Information IS power, and power IS hope - for the betterment of women and their families!  Thank you!

Learn more about Week of Compassion's Women Empowerment Fund.

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Muchas Gracious from Puerto Rico

Dear Church,

Muchas Gracias.

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I had the opportunity to be in Puerto Rico this past weekend to attend the 109thAnnual Convencion of the Iglesia Cristiana (Discipulos de Cristo) in Puerto Rico (ICDCPR) where hundreds of clergy and delegates came together for their annual assembly.  There was time for worship, reports on the different ministries and committees of the church, prayers for one another, and gratitude to God for the gift of being in fellowship with each other.  The General Pastor, Rev. Miguel A. Morales Castro, gave an update on the church's recovery efforts from Hurricanes Irma and Maria, and while there has been much struggle due to the impact of the storms, the church continues to serve its community and other people in need.

It has been close to five months since the impact of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, and today, places that are away from the city, especially remote communities in the mountains, are still struggling to get access to basic needs like electricity and clean water. Many places are still without electricity. They must continue using loud, diesel fuming generators, such as at ICDC in Dajaos, Bayamon, the church where we gathered for our assembly.

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In the midst of so much destruction, the theme of the assembly was "Serving in Spirit and in Truth," based on 1 John 3.18 and Philippians 2.5-11.  As the church tries to rebuild itself, it also recognizes the call to serve the community by partnering in feeding and opening doors.The focus on not forgetting to serve these vulnerable communities remains at the heart of the convencion gathering, and it also remains as our focus for Week of Compassion.

Week of Compassion is working with our partners in slowly transitioning from immediate relief to long-term recovery efforts. In partnership with the Iglesia Cristiana (Discipulos de Cristo) in Puerto Rico, we are developing a long-term plan to partner with local congregations and agencies in rebuilding many homes, but more importantly, many lives.

As I received words of "Muchas Gracias" from so many of our brothers and sisters on this island this past weekend, it's really a gratitude to you, our church and supporters, in this long recovery work.  We remain committed to rebuilding Puerto Rico for the months and years ahead, as well as other places around the world that have experienced disasters.  In a few months you will hear from us about opportunities to partner with us in Puerto Rico to help and work on some of these homes.

Through your gifts to Week of Compassion, especially this week during our special offering, you are joining Disciples in Puerto Rico in "Serving in Spirit and in Truth." Your generosity strengthens our partnership in the much needed, long term recovery of the island.

Muchas gracias,

Rev. Vy Nguyen, Executive Director

Week of Compassion


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2017 saw a series of disasters, both in North America, and around the world. One of those that received too-little attention was a devastating mudslide in Mocoa, Colombia.  In the early morning hours of April 1, 2017, increased rainfall caused the Mocoa, Sangoyaco and Mulata Rivers to overflow, which in turn generated a mudslide in the municipality of Mocoa, capital of the state of Putumayo. Over 20,000 men, women, and children were made homeless, the local water and sewer systems were badly affected, ten local roads and seven bridges sustained damage. Six neighborhoods were totally destroyed and seventeen were seriously damaged.


Because many of the folks in the Mocoa area depend for their livelihoods on agriculture -- growing cassava, coffee, cacao, among others, as well as raising poultry -- the mudslide triggered a serious threat of food shortages for hundreds of residents. Agricultural production capacity was completely destroyed due to the disaster. The local market was also destroyed, and with no income from these activities, many residents could no longer pay the debts they'd incurred for small business or agricultural purposes.

Through your gifts and prayers, Week of Compassion was able to work with partners to assist the residents of this disaster through immediate supply of food, water, and temporary shelter, along with cash gifts to 150 households to allow them to resume their work quickly and to pay livelihood-related debts. Disciples Global Mission Partner Michael Joseph reports "Some bought hens, some pigs, and some bought supplies for family-run businesses (stores, beauty salons, barber shops and restaurants).  The project also provided them with workshops in trauma recovery, investing, and financial skills."  Michael also shared some of the thoughts from those this effort helped: "This project helped us take a step forward. Today my wounds are healed. Now I can go forward even stronger than before."  "With this money I was able to get my beauty salon up and running. I even had enough money left over to buy something for my children for Christmas. Thank you for giving us this money with no strings attached."  "This project has allowed me to start over again. When I lost everything I felt so small. I asked several banks for loans, but they turned me away because I had lost everything. This aid has allowed me to be reborn."

It is truly amazing what such a seemingly small amount per family has been able to do to allow folks to quickly recover from their losses and move forward with their lives and work!

Thank you for your gifts that helped make these things possible. 

As we enter the season of Lent, we recall that God created humans from the muck and the mud. From dust we were created and to dust we will return, yet through the love of God we are also reborn into eternal and abundant life. We pray for you and our partners for a blessed Lenten season. 

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2017 Grant Distribution and Hurricane Recovery

Dear Church,

It feels like every few years extreme weather hits closer to home. Its powerful impact, whether experienced through gushing waters, ravaging winds or scorching fires, has affected our homes and churches. The news has shown us devastating images from Texas, Florida, the Caribbean, California, and the Pacific Northwest. In 2017 your Week of Compassion was able to respond at the beginning of these disasters, and now the long road of recovery begins.  While the minds of many have already moved on, we continue to coordinate and accompany local communities in the rebuilding process.  The work is just getting started.

Members work to rebuild their church building in Northern Nigeria. Photo: Brethren Disaster Ministries

Members work to rebuild their church building in Northern Nigeria. Photo: Brethren Disaster Ministries

Other domestic and global disasters did not make it on the news. There were floods in Arkansas and Missouri and in Peru, Colombia, India, Nepal, and Bangladesh, just to name a few. There were droughts that created starvation and famine for millions of mothers and children in Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Somalia, and Kenya.  And of course, there are 66 million people who have been displaced globally because of conflict in their homes. Your Week of Compassion responded to calls for help across the globe. And, we continue to work with partners to alleviate the pain and loss felt in many of these communities. Your generous gifts have made all of this possible.     

As we enter the month of February, you will have another opportunity to show compassion to those in need by giving to our annual special offering.  The Week of Compassion Special Offering allows us to come together as one church in the United States and Canada and give abundantly to the vital work we do together.  These gifts bear witness to the powerful work of God and allow us to respond to crises in places close to home and far away. Your partnership through the Special Offering answers the voices in the wilderness asking for food, water, and shelter and lets communities who are struggling to find hope know they are not forgotten.  For this, so many are grateful.

Below you will find our distribution chart for 2017 showing the ways your financial gifts went to help people all over the world.  These numbers represent rich and powerful stories, some you already know and others that we will share with you throughout the year.  They are a witness that your gifts--your treasures and your hearts--are with vulnerable people who needed them most.  Lives are made better by your support.

Your gifts build a better world in ways More Than We Can Imagine.

Thank you,

Rev. Vy T. Nguyen

Executive Director


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