No one saw it coming. On May 22, 2011, a tornado struck Joplin, Missouri, shocking a community, and throwing neighborhoods into chaos. But when the storm cleared, Disciples immediately saw a way they could be a part of Joplin’s recovery. Through Week of Compassion, the disaster relief, refugee resettlement, and sustainable development fund of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and a variety of dedicated partners, Disciples responded immediately—and have continued to be part of that community’s recovery.
In the days following the tornado, Week of Compassion helped provide solidarity grants to Disciples whose homes were destroyed or damaged, partnered with First Christian Church of Joplin, South Joplin Christian Church and several other area churches by supporting their grassroots responses to needs, and worked with Church World Service to provide blankets and other material resources. In the months that followed, Week of Compassion continued to meet the ever-changing needs of Joplin by partnering with Church World Service to support the development of long term recovery groups. Teaming up with Disciples Volunteering and the National Disaster Ministries office of the United Church of Christ, Week of Compassion partnered with South Joplin Christian Church to provide housing for hundreds of volunteers who came to Joplin in 2012, ready to get their hands dirty in the recovery.
But it’s not just in Joplin—and it’s not just following disasters—where Disciples make a difference through Week of Compassion.
Over the course of 2012, Disciples’ gifts to Week of Compassion supported important sustainable development work all over the world. Disciples accompanied smallholder farmers as they learned new agricultural skills, partnered with women’s groups who launched new entrepreneurial ventures to support their families, helped launch public health initiatives and psychosocial care for communities recovering from violence and disaster, and supported communities building clean water projects and comprehensive hygiene education programs.
Week of Compassion helped support long-term recovery efforts in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, West Liberty, Kentucky, as well as providing aid to those affected by Hurricane Sandy and other domestic disasters, large and small. The mission fund also responded to disasters as varied as the earthquake in Haiti, the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Syria, and famine in the Sahel region of West Africa.
Through mission service trips, the Disciples Coffee Project, Foods Resource Bank growing projects, and Refugee and Immigration Ministries, Week of Compassion partnered with local congregations across North America to provide hands-on opportunities for response and solidarity with communities all over the world.
Both an effective, efficient mission fund and a driving force for a network of relationships that changes lives all over the world, Week of Compassion has for decades been a key way for Disciples to make their love manifest, to bring the Gospel to life, and to share the love of a comforting, embracing, empowering God in a world that needs it.
Promotional materials, information about 2012-2013 responses, and a three-minute video are all available at Week of Compassion.