United Church of God

Empathy in Times of Crisis

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Empathy in Times of Crisis

Trials and suffering can cause different reactions in people. Sometimes we may lash out in anger, feeling indignant at the injustice of what we are having to face. Other times, we may hunker down and wait it out. Ideally, we learn to trust in God’s will and mercy, and remember that He never allows us more pain than we’re able to bear if we lean into him (Philippians 4:13, 1 Peter 5:7). But how did Jesus Christ respond to suffering?

Despite the physical and emotional turmoil He experienced during His crucifixion, He still found the strength to look outside of Himself and help others. He showed love to a criminal on the last day of His physical life, assuring the thief next to Him, “You will be with Me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43). If we are trying to build the character of Christ and put on His image, how do we respond in times of crisis?

Throughout the health crisis and civil divisions that have characterized the last six months in the U.S. and abroad, we have seen spirits of empathy and generosity emerge. Many brethren—and those God hasn’t called yet—have spent this time looking outside of themselves and reflecting the empathetic character of Jesus.

A LifeNets newsletter from late July called attention to this: “During the COVID-19 lockdown gripping the entire world, LifeNets has been able to do its work with as much vigor as ever. The support has been extraordinary as people in a time of trial also think of others in their trials.”

One of LifeNets’ many current projects is the expansion of the Agua Viva school in Angola. Brethren run this local school, which teaches and employs others in their community. Education is not as accessible in Angola as it is in the U.S., and there are often many more potential students than room for them in schools. These brethren saw a need and filled it, bringing jobs and education to their community—and outgrew their current building.

The ABC class of 2020 decided to support this project for their annual Charity Auction, which was made entirely virtual due to the lockdown in March. A link to donate online was posted and in the first day alone, over $900 came through PayPal. At the time of this issue going to print, over $21,400 has been raised for the school. 

The Treasurer’s Report in this issue explains that despite the pandemic, from March till the end of the fiscal year in June, offerings, tithes and donations to UCG were even higher than budget.

In Zambia, a women’s enrichment weekend was made possible by assistance from LifeNets and women in Branson, Missouri.

In Guatemala, after a strict lockdown with little forewarning, brethren were unable to leave their homes to get food. Some were stranded away from home and others went multiple days without food. Almost overnight, members in New England raised about $6,500 for the Guatemalan brethren.

The July-August 2020 issue of United News featured an article about Child of God Orphanage in Haiti. Since then, we have been contacted by multiple people asking how they can help.

There are many other individuals, congregations and organizations all over the world who have demonstrated exceptional empathy and generosity lately.

These are just a few highlights—there are many more brethren who are quietly finding needs in their community or elsewhere and attending to them. May we all continue to develop empathy, serve and be inspired by each other.