Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Churches of Staten Island Outshine Federal Relief Efforts

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y., Nov. 12, 2012 /Christian Newswire/ -- Evangelical congregations on storm-damaged Staten Island are outshining federal agencies in the arduous task of helping residents recover from the devastating effects of super storm Sandy. Almost immediately after the weather abated, Staten Island evangelical clergy organized and began deploying aid. The same response from federal agencies took days and are still woefully inadequate to the recovery effort.

The Reverend Tim Mercaldo and his father, the Reverend Dr. Dan Mercaldo, pastors of Church at the Gateway, one of the largest evangelical churches on Staten Island, have transformed their church's facility into a major hub for equipment, volunteers, and supplies being marshaled in the aftermath of the storm.

"It's astounding what the Mercaldos and their congregation have accomplished in such a short period of time," said the Reverend Dr. Rob Schenck, chairman of the Evangelical Church Alliance, who last week toured the most heavily affected areas of Staten Island with Tim Mercaldo. "Church at the Gateway has done more with its very limited resources than the federal agencies have done with billion-dollar budgets. This one church has been absolutely heroic."

While truckloads of donated food, water, and winter clothing are offloaded into Gateway's yet unfinished sanctuary, dozens of volunteer workers from around the country are sleeping in Sunday school rooms and being fed out of the church's commercial kitchen. Outside in the church's parking lot, heavy equipment and RVs jockey for position. Tim Mercaldo tools around the island daily in a church pickup transporting urgently needed items to distribution centers set up at other evangelical churches.

"This is way too big of a job for the churches of Staten Island to do alone," Rev. Mercaldo said. "More and more churches around the country are getting on board with help and its' all needed. The federal agencies are doing what they can, but it's falling to the churches to do the heavy stuff. Churches were the first on the scene and are now doing most of the work."

Church at the Gateway is asking for churches to partner with them in a race against time because of threatening winter weather. Financial contributions can be made online at www.churchatthegateway.org or by mail to Church at the Gateway, Sandy Relief, 200 Boscombe Ave., Staten Island, NY 10309.

Christian Newswire

Author and Missionary Gayla Congdon to Speak at the International Conference on Missions, Releases Book

CINCINNATI, Nov. 13, 2012 /Christian Newswire/ -- Gayla Cooper Congdon (photo) and her husband, Scott Congdon, committed their lives over 30 years ago to serving the impoverished after confronting the deep spiritual and physical needs found in Mexican orphanages. Since then, the ministry they founded, Amor Ministries, has sent nearly 9,000 volunteers each year to serve the poorest of the poor through house-building projects. Gayla will bring this lifelong passion for global ministry and the life-altering impact of a single act of service to attendees of The Common Ground women's gathering, November 17 at 3:00 pm, during the 2012 International Conference on Missions (ICOM).

Most who have experienced short-term missions can relate to both the spiritual high that occurs during the trip and how quickly it fades after returning home. Gayla will share principles from her upcoming book, "Disrupted: Cultivating a Mission-Focused Life," releasing January 2013 (Standard Publishing), that help mission trip participants not only prepare for and fully experience the trip, but also learn how to live with a changed mission mindset every day that follows.
"Just as a mission experience disrupts the day-to-day flow of your normal life for a week or two, the best way to keep the spiritual transformation alive is to intentionally disrupt your days long after the trip is over," explains Gayla. "Many people are surprised to find just how much mission opportunity is right in front of them all the time."
In addition to sharing the benefits of a life disrupted by service with ICOM attendees, Gayla will be leading a workshop entitled "Building Missional Families: Helping Parents Develop a Missions Heart in the Lives of Their Children" at upcoming CPC conferences in Orlando and San Diego. She will also be introducing her book and life-changing tips on missional living at Hope International University in Fullerton, CA on January 24, 2013, and in San Diego on February 10, 2013.
"Gayla Congdon, one of the leading practitioners in the short-term missions movement, understands the essential role of discipling short-term missionaries for long-term impact. Her spiritual discernment combined with her missional expertise makes her the ideal person to write a devotional to help participants make the most of their short-term experience for a lifetime," says David Livermore, author of "Serving With Eyes Wide Open."
Congdon's new book, "Disrupted: Cultivating a Mission-Focused Life" will be available for purchase in January 2013 at www.standardpub.com, www.Amazon.com, or anywhere Christian books are sold. Proceeds from the sale of the book will be going to Project Hope (www.amor.org/give/projecthope). To schedule speaking engagements or pre-order the book, please contact Amor Ministries at 619-662-1200 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            619-662-1200      end_of_the_skype_highlighting or visit the Amor Ministries booth at ICOM.
About the Author: Gayla Cooper Congdon is the co-founder and Chief Spiritual Officer of Amor Ministries, a missions agency based in San Diego, CA. Gayla has been a finalist for the San Diego Business Journal's "Women Who Mean Business" Award in 2000 and 2001. She was recently featured on the nationally syndicated Hugh Hewitt radio show, has served as a commencement speaker for Hope International University, led workshops at the National Missionary Convention and the Christian Leadership Alliance Conference, and speaks to churches, women's groups, and at youth conferences on a number of topics all over the world throughout the year. For more information, visit www.amor.org.  
About Standard Publishing: Standard Publishing serves churches worldwide and is recognized as a leader in true-to-the-Bible resources that educate, encourage, and enrich adults, youth, and children. The company is based in Cincinnati, Ohio. For more information, visit www.standardpublishing.com or call 1-800-543-1353 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            1-800-543-1353      end_of_the_skype_highlighting.

Christian Newswire

Family Research Council Webcast to Highlight Religious Persecution Worldwide

WASHINGTON, Nov. 13, 2012 /Christian Newswire/ -- Family Research Council (FRC) will host a live webcast tomorrow highlighting threats to religious liberty around the world. The webcast, entitled "The Cry of the Martyrs: The Threat to Religious Liberty Around the World," will be co-sponsored by The Voice of the Martyrs. Speakers will discuss the ongoing and growing assaults on religious liberty occurring throughout the world today.

WHO:   Tony Perkins, President, Family Research Council
Todd Nettleton, Director of Media Development, The Voice of the Martyrs
Thomas F. Farr, Ph.D., Director of the Religious Freedom Project, Berkeley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs
Dr. Hormoz Shariat, Founder, Iran Alive Ministries
Emmanuel Ogebe, Nigerian Christian Attorney
WHAT: Live Webcast: "The Cry of the Martyrs: The Threat to Religious Liberty Around the World"
WHEN: 12 p.m. Eastern, Wednesday, November 14

Christian Newswire

Operation Compassion Sends Over 1 Million Pounds of Relief to Sandy Survivors

CLEVELAND, Tenn., Nov. 13, 2012 /Christian Newswire/ -- Serving the victims of Superstorm Sandy, Operation Compassion is delivering critical assistance to 6 states and 19 disaster sites. While the weather phenomenon was developing and news reports forecast the ominous potential of Hurricane Sandy, Operation Compassion began to pre-stage a response gathering resources and making calls. Within 24 hours of landfall, semi-truckloads were on their way carrying food and aid to the Northeastern United States.
While the immediate response was prepared, the ongoing response would be expanded in the coming days. Operation Compassion has delivered or has in route, 30 semi-truckloads and 4 box-truckloads of critical relief goods and products. They are delivering truckloads of blankets, clothes, shoes, bottled water, hygiene items, folding cots, lanterns, coolers and food. In addition, they have 10 semi-truckloads staged and prepared for re-supply of the 19 disaster sites. All total, that is more than 1.3 million pounds of products made available to the people suffering from the devastation of Sandy.
The response is not limited to their disaster sites alone; in addition, Operation Compassion is supplying goods to cooking units and shelters housing those homeless from the storm as well as essential volunteers. Countless workers are doing their best to help the survivors cope.
Operation Compassion continues to expand disaster relief efforts while maintaining and re-supplying those already established. Throughout the disaster relief process, Operation Compassion is always looking to better its response and increase its reach to more victims. Utilizing their strategic networks, Operation Compassion is expanding the scope of recovery efforts into new areas of destruction. They are asking the public to get involved and make a cash donation via their website ( operationcompassion.org) and help them bring assistance to those in desperate need.
Operation Compassion is a nonprofit 501(c)3 relief organization with domestic and international service to the poor. Operation Compassion is committed to mobilizing individuals and community groups to provide food and basic necessities to the poor and needy in the United States and around the world. With ongoing service in 38 states and 26 countries, Operation Compassion is honored as one of the most efficient charities in America by forbes.com.

Christian Newswire

Move Over Black Friday and Cyber Monday; 'Giving Tuesday' Calls Americans to 'Give as Good as They Get'

World Vision encourages Americans to take part by volunteering virtually
SEATTLE, Nov. 12, 2012 /Christian Newswire/ -- Giving Tuesday began with a simple thought: we designate Thanksgiving as a day for gratitude and Black Friday and Cyber Monday as two days for getting deals. Wouldn't it be great to have a day for giving back? As a Giving Tuesday partner, World Vision, is challenging Americans to take part in this new national movement on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving by showing they can give as good as they get.

To help those affected by Superstorm Sandy during the week of November 26th, any gift of food, clothing or school supplies for children in the U.S. given through World Vision's Gift Catalog (www.worldvisiongifts.org) will be designated for the Christian humanitarian agency's Sandy relief efforts. World Vision relief teams have been distributing much-needed supplies in some of the most vulnerable communities hit by this devastating storm on the East Coast.

"Giving Tuesday is intended to open the holiday season on a philanthropic note and put heart back into the holidays." says Sarah Renusch, World Vision's Gift Catalog Director. "World Vision is encouraging Americans to dedicate this day to getting back to the true meaning of the holidays. It is about community not commercialism, giving not receiving."

There are many ways to participate in Giving Tuesday:
  • Volunteer Virtually: Not everyone is able to take off work to physically volunteer, but you can volunteer virtually by donating food kits online through World Vision. Each 'kit' contains enough food to feed a family of five for one day ($16 per kit). During the week of Giving Tuesday (November 26 - December 2nd) food kits, clothing and school supplies in the U.S. given through World Vision's Gift Catalog will be donated to those in need impacted by Superstorm Sandy.

  • Give a Meaningful Gift: Share the spirit of Giving Tuesday by giving a gift that can change a life. World Vision's Gift Catalog has hundreds of gifts such as goats, fresh water wells, and life-saving medicines that can be given in the name of a family member, teacher, co-worker or child and help one of more than 825,000 people around the world who benefit from gift catalog items. Gifts range in price from $16 to $39,000, and there are more than 250 items online to choose from. After purchasing a Gift Catalog item, the person whose name the gift was given in, can receive a special card describing the gift and its impact.

  • Teach Generosity: Giving Tuesday is a great opportunity for parents, grandparents, and teachers to help children understand the importance of generosity and giving to others. World Vision's Gift Catalog can be a helpful educational tool. The Pendleton family, of Colorado, adopted their son from Kazakhstan. When he saw the Mongolian Ger in the catalog, he immediately wanted to buy one for people in his homeland. "I didn't know how to explain to a 10-year-old that $1,862 is a lot of money, so I didn't," said mom Amy. "And sure enough, he raised it all!"
"Americans have a glorious tradition of philanthropy," says Renusch. "It's my hope Giving Tuesday will become a new, sustainable American tradition that we will celebrate every year."

To learn more about World Vision's Gift Catalog visit www.worldvisiongifts.org or call (888) 511-6511. This year marks the 17th annual edition of the catalog. Since 1996 the catalog's popularity as a gift-giving alternative has grown with more than 160,000 purchases last year raising over $33 million that helped more than 825,000 people around the world.

World Vision is one of over 750 organizations taking part in Giving Tuesday to find out more go to www.givingtuesday.org.

About World Vision
World Vision is a Christian relief and development organization dedicated to helping children and their communities worldwide reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty. We serve the world's poor, regardless of a person's religion, race, ethnicity or gender. For more information, visit www.worldvision.org.

Christian Newswire