Wednesday, April 4, 2012

One Mission of Hope

Children in Armenia are delighted to receive UMCOR school kits.
Photo by Zaven Khachikian
Where is God in the midst of suffering? When the earth shakes and cities crumble? When groups are forced to flee their homes from religious or political persecution? When children and adults die needlessly from health issues and hunger?

UMCOR, as the humanitarian arm of The United Methodist Church, is called to bring relief. This assistance is directed toward a set of problems that are not only environmental or social but, also, theological. As a faith-based organization, UMCOR is uniquely situated to address both material and spiritual needs in times of suffering. These are not two separate missions, but one unified mission.

“Be there, be hope” must mean access to clean water, health care, sustainable agriculture, and disaster-relief supplies, but it also signifies something more—it is also spiritual renewal. UMCOR is hope for people around the globe—across nations, cultures, and religions—tormented by the fear that they have been forgotten.

Inspired by our faith, we are called to shine a light in dark places. Between despair and joy, faith gives birth to hope as a means of renewal. Only hope is strong enough to take us through tragedy, beyond tragedy, and toward a heavenly Kingdom. Yet, faith is also the source of our humility. As servants, we come equipped with the knowledge that we have been sent by, and are accountable to, the will of God. This one mission of hope is not ours alone, we are merely its instrument.

What is the future of humanitarian relief and development? UMCOR provides an indispensable model for that future. Through faith we rest assured that God does not abandon us in the midst of suffering, but God can surely provide a way out.

Joya Colon-Berezin currently works for the Ministry with the Poor program of the General Board of Global Ministries.

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