Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Disaster Relief

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Because of you, your prayers and your gifts during the past 18 months, LCMS Disaster Response was equipped to support relief and human-care efforts following Superstorm Sandy; the Newtown school shooting and Boston marathon bombing; the Oklahoma tornados and explosion in West, Texas; and more recently the devastating wildfires and flash floods that struck Colorado. Thank you.

But I am writing today with an urgent appeal for your continued help!

Especially in light of the current situation in the central Philippines, there is still more work ahead. Our plan to help with typhoon-recovery work there will be on top of efforts to support LCMS congregations and districts with ongoing recovery and rebuilding efforts in their communities following a series of U.S. disasters. Our own congregations and districts are also looking to LCMS Disaster Response for critical financial assistance.

The amount of available LCMS disaster-relief funds is rapidly being drawn down to the point where we will soon have to make painful choices about the level of support we can offer to those who are asking for our help.

Our partner church in the Philippines is pleading for immediate and mid-range disaster-relief help as I write this. But we also continue to receive formal requests for long-term recovery assistance from affected areas here in the United States and abroad. This is because of our commitment to be in it “for the long haul” well after other relief and government agencies have moved on to the next disaster.

Here is a sample of the requests that will hit our remaining disaster reserves
  • Philippines typhoon — $100,000 (committed), with estimates of future
    assistance of $150,000 or more
  • Colorado fires and floods — $390,000 (pending and/or estimated)
  • Oklahoma tornados — $340,000 (committed), plus $100,000 (pending)
  • Sandy recovery — $190,000 (committed), $750,000 (pending)
  • Long-term hurricane/tornado recovery — $45,000 (committed)
West, Texas, explosion — $25,000 (committed)

Altogether, the committed relief or recovery grants above total $700,000. The pending or estimated grants total $1,390,000. Just in this brief list, affected congregations, districts and partner churches are looking to LCMS Disaster Response for $2,090,000 in additional relief and recovery help during the coming months.

These requests will completely exhaust our available disaster funds and eliminate our ability to offer immediate assistance during the next unforeseen catastrophic event.

This situation may not bother some, but what if it was your congregation or district that needed our help? What if your community was, God forbid, hit by fires, floods, explosions or a life-threatening and property-damaging storm? LCMS Disaster Response wants to be in a strong position to help.

For this reason, I appeal to you to boldly step forward in faith with a gift of $50, $100, $500 or more as the Lord has blessed to help those who are looking to LCMS Disaster Response as they recover from events that have wreaked havoc on so many lives.

But there is still one more request. The months of November and December are when the LCMS receives nearly 50 percent of its total gifts for regular annual operations — things like non-disaster evangelism and other human-care work, congregation services, and Armed Forces ministry. We have been diligently working to get Synod’s financial house in order, including halting internal borrowing to meet ongoing expenses. One year ago, Superstorm Sandy taught us that a generous year-end response to a disaster can unintentionally hurt other important components of our Synod’s work. As the Lord has blessed and because this is a critical time of the year, please prayerfully consider giving to disaster response over and above what you intend to give at year-end to support the Synod’s ongoing, regular mission and ministry, rather than in lieu of it.

You can help our Synod be in the position of never having to say “no” because the funds aren’t there — for disasters as well as our ongoing regular work to share the Gospel. Your best gift sent today can and will make a difference in the life of someone recovering from a recent disaster, and a second gift to the Global Mission Fund of the Synod is equally treasured by those who hear the Gospel through our Synod’s work. Thank you for giving prayerful consideration to my request and for the faith in God that you demonstrate whenever you make a donation to the LCMS.

Sincerely In Christ,

Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison
The Lutheran Church — Missouri Synod

Gifts are tax deductible to the extent permitted by law

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