In Australia, high temperatures and drought conditions are contributing to one of the worst fire seasons in living memory. Since September, these fires have burned across 28 million acres, killing at least 28 people and an estimated 480 million animals. Meanwhile, thousands of people have been displaced as the fire danger inches closer to their homes. The heartbreaking news footage offers just a glimpse of the widespread destruction, and Disciples are wondering how to help. Week of Compassion is in conversation with local partners and is prepared to provide support once plans are in place for a response. To give, please designate “Australia Fires,” and 100% of your gifts will go to the fire response.
Meanwhile, as Puerto Rico continues to recover from Hurricanes Irma and Maria from 2017, a 6.4 magnitude earthquake on Tuesday struck the southwest part of the island, following 5.8 magnitude earthquake on Monday, as well as many smaller tremors over several days. Week of Compassion is in touch with Disciples leadership in Puerto Rico. Several congregations are in the affected area, but at this point, the Disciples churches do not appear to have structural damage. The Disciples church in Guayanilla is providing shelter to their members and neighbors displaced by the quakes.
Disciples congregations in the area are coordinating with local government and other churches. Week of Compassion is in ongoing conversation with church leaders and ecumenical partners about current needs and the best ways for our wider Church to offer support. To support Puerto Rico, designate your gift for “Earthquakes,” and 100% of your gifts will go to affected communities.
Thank you for your care for and support of those affected by both of these disasters. Time and again, the deep compassion of Disciples reaches those in need, through generosity and through prayer. As we gather for worship in our many spaces this Sunday, here is a prayer that Disciples can lift up together:
God of Compassion, Our hearts break when the beauty of your creation is destroyed by disaster. Hear the prayers of lament as your people mourn what has been burned or shaken to dust. Our hearts break when lives are lost to forces beyond our control. Hear the prayers of lament as your people grieve for those who have died. Our hearts break when families are forced from their homes because home is no longer a safe place to be. Hear the prayers of lament as your people seek shelter, or offer sanctuary to others. In your mercy, Lord, comfort those who have lost what can never be returned. In our grief and sadness, guide your Church to be a voice of compassion, and a presence of living hope for those who suffer. We believe that you make all things new, and we trust in your promise that new life rises from the dust, from the ashes, from death itself. May this Body of Christ be an active part of your resurrection story, and a living witness to your love for the hurting world. In your name we pray, Amen.