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A Way to Share Hope

by Christie R. House and Helen Sheperd

New World Outlook, November/December 2007

This issue of New World Outlook is a celebration of The Advance for Christ and His Church, a second-mile giving program that was set up in 1948 and is still going strong almost 60 years later. How strong? The latest estimate for total Advance giving since 1948 is $1,201,211,569. That's 1.2 billion dollars. As impressive as that is, that's not what the celebration is about.

The Advance itself is merely a way—a channel or path—to reach people in the name of Christ. United Methodists have bragging rights concerning this way of giving because it does something that other kinds of charities, such as Save the Children, or Doctors Without Borders, or even Bread for the World—all worthy efforts—cannot do: it promises that 100 percent of the donations given are sent down the path to reach the people and projects for which the funds are intended. Go ahead, brag. That's an incredible return for a charitable donation.

At the end of the path, the real cause for celebration is evident. Over the past 60 years, many, many lives have been touched in the name of Christ. The church's extension of its ministries through the Advance in Christ's name becomes so effective that it is impossible to calculate how many people have benefited from the love and care shared through this channel. God multiplies all our efforts.

Refugees have been fed, clothed, relocated, housed, and trained to work again, enabling them to start their lives over. Students have received scholarships to learn a profession, go to seminary, spread the love of God that they've come to know, and take their place in the world in a way that allows them to feed their families and contribute to their communities. Children have been vaccinated, cared for in orphanages, sent to school, and given a chance to explore the abundant life God intends for them. People have been snatched out of the jaws of death because they received medicine and health care they so desperately needed.

Part of the Advance legacy is that the church leaders and congregants of 1948 didn't think they would need to use this channel of giving much longer than four to eight years. They had survived a terrible war, and if they could just repair the damage wrought by that war, they believed poverty and hardship would subside and the nations of the world would allow all people to thrive. They believed the world had learned a great lesson.

Today, in a more cynical time, we look back at that perspective and shake our heads. But I love my grandparents' generation for its hope and optimism. Through God, all things are possible. They set out to serve people they did not know, to repair damage they felt responsible for, and to open a way for God's love to find a home in the hearts of all the people they encountered; and the church grew in leaps and bounds under their care.

See Also...
Topic: GBGM programs United Methodist Church Advance
Geographic Region: World
Source: New World Outlook

Date posted: Nov 05, 2007