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A man breaks down bricks in earthquake shattered Nepal. LWR and partners are working with communities there to reduce their vulnerability to disasters and help them recover quickly.

Lutherans have a plainspoken way of just calling things what they are. As the late Luther Seminary professor, Gerhard Forde, once put it: “It is false optimism that brings ultimate despair.”

Life can collapse without warning. Disasters strike in our personal lives as well as on a global scale. When dreams are destroyed and communities are devastated around the world, Lutheran World Relief hears the cries of those affected as a call to deliver hope.

On a frigid evening, my then 15-yearold son ended up hospitalized after a basketball game. As I sat in the cold emergency room from 9:30 p.m. until 4:30 a.m., consoling him in his personal pain, reports of a catastrophe unfolded on the TV screen. Haiti, barely surviving in backbreaking poverty, had absorbed a 7.0 magnitude earthquake. On my much smaller telephone screen, e-mail messages zipped around the world as LWR quickly sprung into action.

Regretfully, we must accept the inevitably of disaster and human suffering. Evil is as real as it is often unexplainable. Yet, we are never satisfied to stand by idly watching people die. LWR commits to carry the compassion of Lutherans into the epicenter of life’s earthquakes. As Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Deeply woven into the fiber of our tradition is the conviction that all people are made in the image of God. If we accept this, we cannot be content to see people hungry or suffering.”

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God of hope, who heard the cries of Israelites in Egypt, hear the cries of those who suffer in a broken world. Move in us to respond to those calls swiftly with grace and mercy. AMEN.

John Nunes worked as LWR’s President and CEO