Four responses to the SOS “Hundreds for Hundreds” campaign

August 21, 2020
by Harvey Yoder

In celebration of Mennonite Central Committee’s 100th anniversary, the Virginia Relief Sale’s SOS Committee (Sharing Our Surplus) is launching a “Hundreds for Hundreds” campaign to raise much needed donations for MCC worldwide refugee relief.

Most of our efforts this year will be focused on promoting generous online giving. We are also planning a two-mile “Hundreds For Hundreds” SOS Walk in Harrisonburg on Sunday, August 23 at 6:00 p.m. as a family-friendly fundraiser. Those who prefer not to do a public walk can get sponsors for a virtual walk at a time and place of their choosing.

MCC was formed in 1920 to provide desperately needed relief for Mennonites in famine and war-ravaged Ukraine. Over a three-year period, it raised $1.3 million in food aid and purchased 50 tractors and plows to replace draft horses that had been destroyed or confiscated during the recent war. Today that would represent over $33 million worth of aid.

Today people all over the world are suffering the effects of similar wars and famines, combined with such disasters as locust plagues, floods and now a worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. An estimated 265 million people will experience severe food shortages this year, twice the number that faced starvation-level poverty a year ago. And among the populations most affected are the over 70 million refugees around the world.

Meanwhile, MCC income has dropped by some $5 million this year. The “Hundreds for Hundreds” campaign can help make up for this shortfall.

Here are four possible responses:

  1. No Giving. Just ignore the crisis, keep it “out of sight and out of mind.”
    Upside: Low stress, minimal worry.
    Downside: An indifference that can result in the heart becoming, like that of Seuss’s Grinch, “two sizes too small.

  3. Token Giving. Give just enough to help SOS keep raising 10% of the Relief Sale’s annual receipts.
    Upside: An easier conscience, and a feeling of at least doing something to benefit needy refugees.
    Downside: Only a minimal awareness of the suffering of those facing massive hardship and starvation.

  5. Generous Giving. Write a big check based on a genuine concern for millions in dire circumstances, but without diminishing ones financial status or standard of living.
    Upside: MCC and other charities minister to many more people and offer much more relief aid.
    Downside: The gap between the very well-to-do and the very poor remains largely unchanged.

  7. Pentecostal/Jubilee-Style Giving.
    Follow Jesus’ call to “sell what you have,” radically downscaling all personal wealth, with an eye toward creating greater justice and equality worldwide.
    Upside: Helps create a world in which there are “no needy persons among them,” while adding greatly to ones stock in the internationally-based “Company of Heaven.”
    Downside: According to the teachings and life of Jesus, who “became poor for our sakes,” * there is no downside, and the rewards are eternal and immeasurable.

So as we make our choices, consider the prayer by seven-year-old Ben Zimmerly Jantzi: “God, please help the poor get rich and the rich get poor, so they know what it feels like. And then, God, let everyone switch back to medium and let everyone have the same amount of food and money.”

* Radical re-investing may not mean becoming poor in terms of wealth used in the production of essential goods and services. That is, some may be entrusted with the stewardship (management) of farms, factories or other business enterprises worth millions. What Jesus asks is that we radically downsize and re-invest the kinds of personal and consumer wealth that is subject to loss by theft, economic downturns, depreciation and deterioration—simply because it is a wiser choice that results in better returns.

This article was originally posted by the author at http://harvyoder.blogspot.com.