Tuesday, March 29, 2011

One Great Hour of Sharing

Jesus said, “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell—and great was its fall!” Matthew 7:24-27

Infrastructure is important.

On April 3rd we will join with United Methodists around the world in “One Great Hour of Sharing.” The gifts we give will support and maintain the foundation of the United Methodist Committee on Relief, and make all of our relief efforts possible.

One Great Hour of Sharing began after World War II, in a time when Protestant churches were growing dramatically, and Protestant denominations were reaching cultural dominance in the United States. It was a time of optimism and institution building. People wanted to belong, and the church was at the center that belonging. We are more fragmented now. We care less about institutions and denominational labels are no longer important. In many ways, those changes are good, but they have made it much more difficult to maintain a world-wide mission.

In 2010 United Methodists gave more than ever before to support mission work around the world, beginning with a huge offering for earthquake relief in Haiti. At the same time, contributions to One Great Hour of Sharing declined by 13%. Money given to One Great Hour of Sharing doesn’t go directly to Haiti or Japan. It goes to support the infrastructure that makes relief in Haiti and Japan possible.

One Great Hour of Sharing pays for the foundation. It pays to maintain field offices and mission networks around the world. It keeps the lights on. And because OGHS keeps the lights on, when we give to special efforts in Haiti or Japan, every dollar (100%) goes directly to relief work.

In our results oriented culture, we want to see a direct connection between what we do and the difference that it makes. If it won’t make a visible difference, then we don’t want to do it. This is true in the concrete infrastructure of our country, in the roads and bridges, and it is true in the administrative infrastructure of relief organizations and churches. We have no patience with the work that must be done behind the scenes.

Infrastructure is a tough sell. People often say, “I don’t want to give money just to keep the lights on,” or “just to keep the building open.” That is understandable. It feels good to know that what we are giving is going to meet a direct need. But without the basic infrastructure, it is impossible to deliver relief efficiently.

Foundations and infrastructure are not exciting. They seldom inspire. But unless they are solid, the house will not survive the storm.

In One Great Hour of Sharing we build, sustain, and expand the foundation for a relief program that is always ready to respond around the world.

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