“Hearing the Cry” - Local Church Offers Steps that Address Global Poverty
Every year our church does an annual event associated with World Communion Sunday. We call this our, “Hear the cry” global poverty awareness event.
Taken from Psalm 10:17, the writer declares that, “the LORD, hears the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry.” God does hear the cries of the oppressed. He invites us to hear and respond as well.
Our goal every year through this event includes educating, empowering and helping our congregation to embody grace through the specific concern or issue we have decided to focus on for that year. In 2010 the focus was on education. In 2011 we listened to the cries of those in the world that suffer under the dark clouds of despair that come from a lack of adequate health resources, providers and those who exist in almost unthinkable living conditions.
This year our congregation had educational opportunities presented in several ways:
• Prayer events and testimonies from Chapelwood members who had been involved in medical ministry. Prayer guides were distributed with suggested ways to read, reflect and respond.
• A 20 minute documentary was shown to Sunday school classes as it related to the healthcare issue of Malaria. Additional Sunday school resources were provided for those interested in finding out about “health” related issues within the biblical texts.
• Rev. Melissa Maher preached from the biblical text that helped us see God’s hope through Christ’s engagement in the world. Also how we as individuals and as a church can respond in very practical, meaningful and doable ways.
A highlight for many was the “Urban Slum.” The Fellowship Hall was turned into a global village; the kind perhaps found in the developing world. Over 500 people came through the ‘urban slum’ to experience even in a small way, what life may be like in an impoverished setting. Feedback from the slum experience included exclamations such as, “This “opened my heart. It makes it so much more real to see what it is like for those who need,” and, “Wow! It really helped me to see what the conditions are in some countries.”
Another participant said, “This gave me a new way to pray, a new perspective.” “There will be no more poor me mentality.” People were also empowered by the creation of outlets that allowed people to make a difference though giving. Chapelwood UMC raised enough money to provide 1,300 Malaria bed nets that cost $10 each.. These nets are life savers for an individual or family. One of our projects goals was to help fund a health clinic in rural Mizak, Haiti which is run by HAPI, a Methodist Advance Special project (#3020490). The goal was to raise $10,000 to help provide two nurses and assist 24 children on a nutritional program. A total of $11,125 was collected from Chapelwood members. The funds will provide nursing salary support for one year and increase the number of children who will receive emergency nutritional aid. Motivated to give generously, the congregation met opportunities to contribute in ways that will improve healthcare in places like Cote
d’Ivoire and Haiti.
At Chapelwood we seek to live into our kingdom mission to “embody grace as we receive it to give to those that need it.” The congregation recognizes that all givers are and receivers of God’s abundant grace. Many are engaged in various capacities that show grace to our neighbors throughout the world.
The variety of ways of response included:
• At least 250 Prayer/baby blankets were sewn and collected. These will be given to mothers and their babies at Maua Methodist Hospital in Kenya and Dabou Methodist Hospital in Cote d’Ivoire. In addition over 50 cards and letters of prayer and encouragement were written for the hospital staff.
• 800 Hygiene kits were packed sent to UMCOR, The United Methodist Committee on Relief. UMCOR reaches worldwide to provide relief in five core areas: Hunger, Health, Refugees, Emergencies, and Relief Supplies. These Hygiene kits will provide critical resources to individuals in a time of crisis or natural disaster.
• Health kits for 50 World Vision community health workers were assembled. This totaled 250 kits which will supply each worker with five kits for the year. These kits will go with healthcare workers into rural settings where there are no doctors. Health is much more than just medical health, as the biblical writers remind us...God’s blessing is TO us, to be received and embedded deep within. God’s blessing is also to the world THROUGH us.
That blessing goes like this:
The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace (Heb: “Shalom”…wholeness, healing, fullness).