At the intersection of U.S. 65 and I-44, the crossroads of America connect in Springfield, Mo., a place where passion meets need and hope meets healing. This junction forms the ideal location for the corporate offices of Convoy of Hope, a faith-based international humanitarian relief organization whose strategic location allows for the rapid transportation of goods—mostly loads of food and additional relief supplies—to be transferred to and from the ministry's main warehouse on a weekly basis.
Convoy of Hope was founded in response to personal tragedy. The Donaldson family was inspired to start the organization after recalling the immeasurable comfort and support they received from family and friends when their father was killed by a drunk driver in 1969. They wanted to provide tangible ways to meet the needs of others experiencing tragedy and suffering due to circumstances out of their control.
The Donaldsons' vision has served more than 63 million people since Convoy of Hope began in 1994. Partnering with churches, businesses, government agencies and other nonprofits, the ministry is one of the first to respond in times of crisis and aggressively tackles issues of poverty and injustice both domestically and internationally.
"Poverty robs people of hope," says Convoy of Hope's national spokesperson, Jeff Nene. "Our goal is not to just give people food, water and supplies. Our goal is to give people hope, to give them a view into a life beyond poverty. If we just give people food, it does nothing for them long term. If we can give them hope and show them ways they can get beyond poverty, that gives them a new outlook on life and a vision for the future."
Meeting a person's basic needs of food, water and clothing not only provides much-needed perspective, Nene says, but it also brings dignity and opens the door for the gospel.
"Jesus fed the people, meeting their physical needs, while at the same time He ministered to their spiritual needs," Nene says. "When you take the opportunity to meet someone's physical needs, they are likely more receptive to your concern over their spiritual needs. It is easier to listen to the story of Christ when our bellies are full and we have clothes on our backs."
Convoy of Hope has been at the forefront of disaster relief since its inception. Not only has the organization rallied among the first responders when disaster strikes around the world, but it continues to deploy supplies and workers on the ground to facilitate ongoing efforts to rebuild entire communities and instill hope where extreme despair remains, long after national media has lost interest.
Social media has become a valuable tool that enables Convoy of Hope to share the results of its work to inspire others to get involved.
"We are able to show photos of children we are feeding, share videos of a disaster scene and tell the stories of families who have come to a new relationship with God," Nene says. "It gives us an amazing tool with which we can report tangible results back to our donors and partners."
Nene is encouraged by each of the ways in which the church is living out the truth of Scripture through active kingdom work.
"We are excited to see the church as a whole [burdened for] the world outside the four walls of their church buildings," he says. "The 21st-century church is a church that is involved in showing compassion and building community in the neighborhoods that surround them. We see churches meeting people's needs and touching people's lives—all before a family ever sets foot into a church building."
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