Mary Schaller Blaufuss
Team Leader, Humanitarian & Development Ministries
700 Prospect Ave.
Cleveland, OH 44115
Since March 14, Tropical Cyclones Idai and Kenneth and resulting flooding have claimed more than 600 lives in Mozambique and neighboring countries. Hundreds of thousands of people are displaced to temporary camps. The UCC has begun its early response and planning for recovery with partners. Thus far, $65,000 has been provided to address the needs, and a special appeal has been launched.Read more
Responding to the food and nutritional challenges of families living in extreme poverty is a focus of the One Great Hour of Sharing in its International sustainable development emphasis. Families now have more access to food, and the ability to care for their families.Read more
It is not a coincidence that Lesby lives in the town "El Porvenir" which means the future. She has always been focused on how to improve her future and that of her baby Selby. Life in this municipality is not easy. Almost 40% of its inhabitants live in extreme poverty and 16% of babies and children face chronic malnutrition. However, children in this area live in better conditions than in other border municipalities in the south where almost half of children suffer from chronic diseases, learning disorders, and developmental delays as a result of chronic malnutrition.
Fortunately, Lesby had access to prenatal care at a local clinic, had an uncomplicated pregnancy, and after nine months gave birth to a beautiful and healthy baby. Lesby recalls that thanks to the education she received at the clinic she was able to balance her diet with more fruits, vegetables, and meat which greatly benefited Selby.
But what price did she pay for a pregnancy without setbacks that resulted in a healthy and strong baby? Selby's father had to migrate to the United States in search of a better future for his family. Having her partner far away left Lesby with mixed emotions. On the one hand she is grateful for the economic opportunities it entails, but on the other hand, her daughter does not know her father.
The separation of the family has been difficult. Selby's father is one of the approximately 3.2 million Central Americans who live and work in the United States. Thanks to the remittances that Lesby receives month after month from the United States, she was able to access nutritious food during her pregnancy. She also had enough money to participate in a Habitat for Humanity program to build her house, a home where Selby can now play, eat, and sleep in a safe environment.
Thanks to your support, children like Selby have a brighter future. Better health and a safe environment during childhood will have lifelong benefits.
Bread for the World is supported by contributions from One Great Hour of Sharing. And because of our support, Bread for the World has invited interested parties to participate in a conference call with special guest, Dr. Lawrence Haddad, co-winner of the 2018 World Food Prize. The Conference call will take place on Tuesday, March 19, at 3:00 pm Eastern Time. Join us in the fight to end hunger. Call 773-231-9226 and use access code 149 691 3232#.
Mission Moment 1
Oebaki (pronounced Oe-ba-key) is a small village in West Timor, Indonesia. It is considered one of the poorest communities in the country. The prefix “Oe” means water, but the drought has stolen this town’s identity. Poverty abounds, and families struggle to feed their children.
Imagine having a garden, but not being able to feed your family, or digging into the sand of a dry river bed in search of drinking water.
Imagine your child has been diagnosed with stunted growth, a preventable early childhood condition with lifelong consequences.
Now imagine the world the way God intends.
God imagines a world where all are fed, everyone has access to clean water, and all children grow up healthy. The author of Ephesians writes, “Now to God be the glory, who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine...” (Ephesians 3:20).
Your gifts to One Great Hour of sharing help make this world look more like the world God imagines. In Oebaki, your gifts help support well-trained savings and loan groups that allow families to buy resilient vegetable seeds for farming, yarn for weaving stunningly beautiful traditional fabric, and egg-laying chickens for a sustainable source of protein essential to prevent child stunting. These enterprises produce excess goods that families sell to generate income.
Today in Oebaki, those who once struggled during the dry season and drought can now maintain a diversified diet by eating stored root vegetables from the last harvest, supplemented with greens purchased at the market.
Nelci Tlonaen works hard in Oebaki with her husband and three children—two in elementary school and one entering high school. Despite the current drought, she feels confident that her family will persevere. “Even now, I can afford clothes and food for my children. I don’t have any difficulty paying for their school.”
That’s what happens when we imagine the world as God intends. Through your gifts, a new reality exists for families in Oebaki and around the world. Please give generously!
OGHS MISSION MOMENT 2
Imagine a 12-year-old child that you know. Maybe this is a neighborhood child, one of your own children or perhaps a grandchild. In your mind, what does the child do on a normal day? Go to school? Eat breakfast with friends? Argue with a sibling about what game to play after school?
Today I would like to tell you about another 12-year-old child. Her life is a little different from most children you know. We’re going to call her Z, which is the first letter of her name. For Z, a German language course in Serbia felt like the most normal thing she could imagine. She was born in Iran, but her family came from Afghanistan. They were refugees. And, like millions of other refugee and immigrant families, Z’s family began the long journey towards a better life. They went through Serbia, and eventually made it to Germany.
In Germany, aid workers spotted Z and her family. They were walking through a park, looking out of place and afraid. The aid workers offered them hope in the form of a safe space to rest and warm noodles, which Z described as “the sweetest food she had tasted in years.”
“O taste and see that the Lord is good; happy are those who take refuge in God,” the Psalmist sings.
Your gifts to One Great Hour of Sharing help the aid organization, Info Park, assist refugees with a safe place to rest, educational opportunities, and nourishing food to eat when they are hungry.
Your gifts to One Great Hour of Sharing help children like Z, inch closer and closer to the goals they only dream about as they navigate borders, checkpoints, and an exilic life.
Your gifts to One Great Hour of Sharing assist learning centers where girls and boys can escape the life of refugee camps and experience the normalcy children in many parts of the world take for granted.
Because of your generosity, Z is on a path towards education that only she and her mother dreamt of for her. Z won the Hamburg regional competition for best writing skills among newcomers to Germany. Two years earlier she didn’t know a word of the language. She had only begun attending a German school in Hamburg a month before the award, and yet she walked away with the prize.
Thank you for making it possible for families like Z’s to “taste and see that the Lord is good.” Your gifts provide more than we can imagine!
1. Psalms 34:8
Since July 2016, nearly 170 women and girls have attended German classes at Info Park. Of those, 140 successfully graduated and received a language certificate. Teachers from Germany, Austria, and Switzerland inspire students to gain confidence, knowing that if they work hard they will have more opportunities.
Lectionary Preaching Notes from the lens of UCC Humanitarian and Development Ministries
(Disaster, Refugee and Global Sustainable Development)
These ministries are made possible by your participation in the One Great Hour of Sharing Offering (UCC)
Text: Luke 5: 1-11
Preaching Focus: Following Jesus means making an impact for the common good that is more than we can imagine.
Interpretation and Informing Stories
The disciples are fishing, without success. This story like many others has multiple layers of meaning. There is the physical, that these people who fish for a living, need that catch for their livelihood. No fish – no income. Jesus steps in and the fish that have eluded them are present in abundance.
In UCC sustainable development ministries, we are part of such experiences in sustainable agricultural work. In Central America, people need their farms and gardens to produce food in order to live. When that land does not produce food because climate change has caused drought or violence has made it dangerous to cultivate the land, people suffer. They need the land to produce food for their livelihood. When people are brought together to teach each other new cultivation techniques that work in the new drought-prone lands, or when access to a microsavings loan cooperative enables women to gain access to cash for agricultural inputs, the community as a whole is strengthened. Families have money for uniforms and shoes to send their children to school. People connect with their neighbors in new ways to depend on each other. These strong communities have a greater impact than we can imagine. Communities thrive. Violence is curbed. People can stay in their home countries and not have to risk a dangerous journey north to try to enter the U.S. for asylum.
The story of disciples and the disciples fishing also has a layer of meaning about where assistance comes from. In humanitarian work, the danger is that those with access to resources may create systems that exercise power over rather than power with those who need access to those resources. Whether deliberate or not, the transfer of resources can become disempowering rather than a building up of community. A needs-based mission based on identifying needs and then meeting those needs can be disempowering. A grace-ful mission, however, identifies strengths and gifts present among a community and seeks new ways that these strengths can be brought together for the building up of community.
Greg Jarrell, in his 2018 book “A Riff on Love,” exemplifies this asset and strengths-based approach to life and faith. Using his experiences as part of the Enderly Park Community in Charlotte, North Carolina and as a professional saxophonist, Greg writes of abundant community and belonging. As the book cover notes “Surprising teachers. Tragic losses. Unexpected gifts. Every neighborhood has stories and ways of singing the stories of their place. Start digging in, and you find all sorts of music. In a neighborhood skilled in improvisation, like Enderly Park, you also discover new ways to sing those songs, and a choir of new kinfolk to sing them with.” I recommend this book to you for your devotional and activist reading.
Be Thou My Vision
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Name strengths of your own local community
With Puerto Rico still struggling to recover one year following Hurricane Maria, UCC Disaster Ministries is actively supporting our fellow Americans in Puerto Rico and calls on churches "to continue to pray and give financially for what will be a long road ahead," says Zach Wolgemuth, the program's executive.Read more
Safe Centers provide girls with an after school support group that is focused on keeping girls in school and eliminating child marriage, female genital mutilation, and teenage pregnancies. They also discuss topics related to health, hygiene, goal setting, and self-love. The Boys and Girls Club function to empower young people to reach their full potential.Read more
The Southwest Conference is calling for a week of Faithful Witness at the Border, August 26 – 30, 2018 that will include: