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.
To be inundated is typically not a good thing: the word carries a sense of too much. Water, a necessity for life, can at times be soothing, as a gently moving river or a placid sea reflecting blue skies above. Yet it also has the power to overwhelm, as when that same river overflows its banks or when an ocean surge is pushed before a storm. Too much water can inundate a riverbed, a floodplain, a surrounding community.
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” -Joshua 1:9
“There are times when we look up to the heavens and ask… do you really mean wherever? Even if wherever involves 911 moments or disasters? Again, the answer is yes, wherever. When you go through flooding, winter storm damage, busted pipes and significant home damage, hurricanes, tornadoes, hail damage, insurance or no insurance… God is wherever. And then … God sends help. It comes in all forms and from friends of all kinds. Some of those friends are from Week of Compassion. They come with resources and with faith. They come with ears and hearts open. They come with hands open ready for work and with hands folded in prayer.” -Rev. Joe Hodges, Senior Minister, The Woodlands Christian Church, TX.
In the coming weeks, many of our churches will receive the Special Offering to support Week of Compassion. I am grateful for your tremendous generosity that provides relief and offers hope to so many.
We just completed assessment of 2020 financial distributions for relief, refugee, and sustainable development programs. This gives us a sense of where the greatest needs arose, and how your gifts helped communities in the midst of a pandemic and other disasters. Because of your generosity, 2020 was our highest program distribution in over a decade. As the world was affected by the pandemic-- and the economic toll impacted our partners-- Week of Compassion stepped up and increased our resource support for disaster relief, refugee, food security and sanitation.
Nobody hungry, nobody thirsty,
shade from the sun, shelter from the wind,
For the Compassionate One guides them,
takes them to the best springs. ~Isaiah 49:10
Food insecurity. Political unrest. Climate change threatening the viability of crops...
Imagine all of these things, happening at once. And then, back to back hurricanes arrive.
In November of 2020 two consecutive hurricanes--Eta and Iota-- impacted the same regions of Central America, with Nicaragua experiencing some of the most severe impact. Flooding destroyed the bean crops, contaminated water wells, destroyed latrines, and left thousands of families homeless. People moved to emergency shelters in schools and churches, but thousands didn´t have time to evacuate or preferred not to leave their homes for security reasons or fear of COVID-19.
By: Jennifer Allen
God sent the message: feed the masses.
In the community surrounding First Christian Church of Parkersburg, West Virginia, the number of unhoused and underfed neighbors has increased due to COVID-19. Restrictions on housing facilities and illness among volunteers who typically feed the hungry have led to less availability of sheltered beds and fewer food pantries disseminating sustenance to those in need. These dynamics have caused a compound crisis in the community.
“When Hurricane Michael made landfall in October 2018 and devastated our area, you answered our call... to provide disaster recovery assistance for residents who do not have adequate resources to rebuild and restore their lives in the aftermath of the strongest storm to hit Bay County... and today, we are postured to assist the many residents still recovering from Hurricane Michael, and those impacted by COVID-19, and now Hurricane Sally.” -Donna Pilson, Rebulid Bay County, Inc. Executive Director
Rebuilding communities and lives after a disaster takes time; often, it takes years. Media coverage wanes after the immediate impact, so many never witness the later stages of recovery. But needs continue to evolve long after the initial crisis. And sometimes, new needs emerge as well. Week of Compassion is committed to supporting local partners through every stage of disaster recovery as they meet rapidly changing needs in their local communities-- and even face the challenges of compound disasters.
“Everything we usually do has been turned upside down,” says Lisa Crouch, Associate Director of Children’s Disaster Services, a Week of Compassion partner through Brethren Disaster Ministries. Children have unique needs following disasters, and CDS typically provides trauma-informed childcare in evacuation shelters and disaster resource centers during and after disasters. But as the pandemic has changed the face of disaster response, CDS has adapted their work for the COVID-19 context.