June 4, 2015

Dear Lakeshore,

I found the following letter to be challenging, informative and inspiring. Thus, I chose to share it with you. I am grateful for your generous response when the need arises to give to the One Great Hour of Sharing. I am proud that we are longtime participants in this significant work. I am reminded that the OGHS is one of the best tools members of Protestant churches in the USA have to touch the earth with kindness.

Peace,
Jim H.

When the Ebola virus broke out in West Africa in mid-2014, we responded immediately. Long before our news media picked up the rapid spread of the virus, we provided One Great Hour of Sharing (OGHS) funds to our partner, IMA World Health, who was working alongside the Liberian Ministry of Health to educate people on Ebola prevention. And equally as important, we were supplying the proper protective equipment to healthcare workers to prevent them from contracting the virus as they provided life-saving medical services. In total, $125,000 of your gifts to the Annual OGHS offering were used to make possible life-saving remedies in a situation that was quickly spiraling out of hand.

My ministry on your behalf is to stay on top of what disasters are plaguing our world. Honestly, at times it can feel daunting. But knowing that through your generosity to OGHS we have the resources to make a contribution to these needs, it makes this sometimes daunting ministry feel possible.

I would be remiss if I didn’t note the extraordinary nature of 2014—at least from the perspective of my ministry. Last year was punctuated by many disasters, but what was different is that a good number of them weren’t of natural origin—they happened because of the actions of people against people. Think of the chaos in Ukraine. The terror of ISIS on the people of Iraq and Syria. The suffering of millions of Syrians who have been displaced now for up to 4 years due to the continued fighting within their country. The people of Gaza who endured another 51-day war with Israel. Boko Haram’s murder and pillaging of thousands in Nigeria. The list, unfortunately, is much longer than this. I don’t have to comment on nor even consider the politics behind any of these situations, for that would be a distraction. All I can see in each of these situations is the suffering of millions of men, women and children—all victims of violence, and all having to find a way to carry on with life in the midst of grief, uncertainty, and continued fear. Your gifts to the OGHS offering are with people in each of these areas—

  1.  One brave Baptist pastor in the Ukraine who risked his own life daily to bring aid to those in his war-torn town;
  2. One brave pastor of the Baptist Church in Baghdad, Iraq, who provided refuge to many fleeing ISIS;
  3. Our partner in Lebanon who continues to ministers to Syrian refugees who cannot go home;
  4. Christian Mission to Gaza who delivered food and medicine to 700 families trapped within the war zone in Gaza; and
  5. Our ecumenical partner, the Church of the Brethren, who is providing aid and shelter to thousands of Christians who have fled their homes after being attacked by Boko Haram.

Know that you are there. And through your gifts to this year’s annual offering, you will be there again. Honestly, all of the above situations will require more of our support. And we’ll provide it—both to the conflicts that exist today and those that develop tomorrow.

In addition to receiving the annual offering, I encourage your congregation to continue giving to special disaster situations through OGHS by taking a special offering for that specific relief work.

Thank you for your continued support of the One Great Hour of Sharing offering. Sharing resources really does change lives!

Joyfully serving with you,
Lisa Rothenberger-Winter
World Relief Officer

P.S. As a father and grandfather, one of my greatest hopes is for a peaceful city in which my children can raise my grandchildren. Our “Stand and Sing For Justice” effort represents LABC’s commitment to this hope. I invite you to join me following worship on Father’s Day (June 21) for a special edition of Stand and Sing. We will gather across the street from the church on Mandana Green from 11:30-11:45 and witness through our song to our concern for the well being of all.