Photo: Paul Jeffrey/ACT Alliance
In our weekly updates, we share stories of our presence and impact around the world: from disaster response, to refugee and immigration ministry, to ongoing sustainable development projects in impoverished areas. Catch up on updates you missed, or find stories you want to read and share again! Or, subscribe to receive weekly email updates.
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. -Matthew 6:19-21
Where is your treasure?
In the bank? A locked box? Invested wisely across a diverse portfolio?
In Thailand, a 13-year-old girl arrives at The New Life Center, seeking relief from the cruel conditions that have brought her here. Her life up to this point has been mostly about survival. Here, she meets others like her. Some of them are survivors of sexual abuse, domestic violence, or human trafficking. Some have been forced to work when they wanted to go to school.
What will the future be like when she is empowered to share her gifts with her community and the world?
In Liberia and Sierra Leone, Week of Compassion is planting seeds for the future--literally and figuratively.
Ten years ago, Week of Compassion partner Agricultural Missions started the West Africa Initiative (WAI) as part of reconstruction following the 14-year civil war that devastated much of the rural sector in both countries. The initial focus of WAI was to improve food security in rural communities by increasing local food production. Through this comprehensive rural development program, Week of Compassion partners work to organize and train local farmers’ groups. But there are many challenges.
...for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.
I am currently traveling, visiting partners in South America, and I heard the most recent news of cruelty and abuse at the U.S./Mexico border. I was surrounded by our local partners when I saw the heartbreaking image of Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez and his young daughter, Angie Valeria. The two of them drowned trying to swim across the Rio Grande and cross into the United States.
One of our ongoing sustainable development goals is to empower women and support women-led entrepreneurship. To this end, we partner with Prosperity Catalyst, an organization that works to develop and strengthen women-led businesses in distressed regions. Through their work, we help provide business and technical training, creating opportunities for women to achieve economic and social empowerment.
Most folks know Week of Compassion as the disaster response ministry of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). When there is a fire, we’re there. When there’s a flood, we’re there. Hurricane, tornado, earthquake: there. We respond to meet immediate needs in the aftermath, and we commit to sustained presence as communities look ahead and rebuild.
Those are important parts of our ministry. But it isn’t the entirety of what we do. Week of Compassion also supports sustainable development projects all over the world. We empower families and communities to better support themselves, using resources that are often already available to them. Sometimes, this type of work does not feel as urgent as the devastation of a natural disaster, especially one that is trending on our local news every day. But this work is every bit as important and lifegiving as the other side of our ministry.