Editor's note: To mark the National Day of Charity on Sept. 5 in the United States, Karen Horsman, Mennonite Mission Network's director of Donor Relations, reflects on how grateful she and her team are for the ongoing generosity of donors during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As this past winter deepened in northern Indiana, the news of the horrible virus in Wuhan, China, seeped into my consciousness. I felt sorry for those wounded by the outbreak of this terrible disease. The desperation of the situation became clearer to me when I heard that the Chinese authorities were building a multi-story hospital to handle the overwhelming numbers of patients.
But that was in Wuhan, far from where I lived in the Michiana area close to Elkhart-Goshen, Indiana.
I quickly learned how wrong I was.
In March when the COVID-19 virus sent us all into shutdown, I felt uncertain about how these unprecedented times were going to affect donations to Mennonite Mission Network. As our Donor Relations team adjusted to this new reality, we began praying for our donors, our families, and our coworkers.
"O God, we pray for those who are experiencing this virus, for those on the front lines fighting it, for those who are mourning their loved ones. Help us to do the right thing. Help us to minister to those around us," we prayed. Little did we know that we were the ones who would be ministered to.
To accompany our prayers, we began calling our donors, not only because they are financial supporters of Mission Network, but because they are part of our family. For family, you care. For family, you listen. For family, you pray. And that is what we did.
Our phone calls reached lonely people who were isolated from family and friends. They loved hearing from us, and our mutual relationships deepened. They ministered to us by letting us more deeply into their daily experiences. As a result, our team gained a richer appreciation of how God moves in people's lives.
Thankfulness abounded on both sides of those calls. Because we were in the middle of an ever-growing pandemic, the ordinary trials of life seemed to acquire a more poignant meaning. Illness, inability to hug a grandchild, a cancer diagnosis — all of these were freely shared with us. We prayed with them, and those humble petitions to our loving God took on a new urgency.
A few of those phone calls especially stand out to me:
An elderly couple confessed a worry about not having enough food. They were isolated and did not have a way to access groceries in their area. This predicament loomed on their horizon. The Donor Relations representative alerted our Church Relations representative and together they connected with a church in the couple's area. Soon after, some congregational members delivered food to them.
Another team member talked to donors who said they couldn't get out to shop for food and other items because they didn't have protective masks. Our team arranged for masks to be delivered.
Our team is being blessed by these interactions and the constant stream of written and verbal feedback thanking us for our care and concern. These donors probably do not realize what a blessing they have been to us: a spur to us keep going, a confirmation of our ministry, a wonderment of the Lord's infinite faithfulness. Their generosity is overflowing, and as a result, we have not experienced a disruption in financial support.
We are all learning valuable lessons that include, but are not limited, to these:
- The world is a small place and we are interconnected.
- Fear, trouble, and worry are handled best when shared.
- Concentrate on the important things and pray unceasingly.
- Thank God for our donors. They have been our lifeline in more ways than can be numbered.