A Light in the Clearing

When the prophet Elijah, deep in the throes of an existential crisis, fled to Mount Horeb in search of God, he was met instead with the sound of sheer silence.

Natalie Pisarcik knows just how he felt.

“There was a time in my life where I was on the bottom,” Natalie testified during Sunday worship in her home congregation, First Presbyterian Church of Boonton, New Jersey. “I cannot even describe how hard and difficult that time was. Only those who have been there know how it feels.” 

Natalie’s story recollected a significant turning point in her life. “On that fateful day, I went for a walk in a wooded area where I kept repeating over and over in my wounded brain how I would end the pain. As I walked, I came across a field, which oddly seemed to call to me.  As I walked into the field, a beam of warm sunlight hit my face. It was at this exact moment that I realized I had a made a terrible mistake. It was like God was saying to me, ‘What are you doing? You have a reason to live.’ I was so overcome.”

Natalie found herself compelled to address the growing mental health crisis not only by sharing her story with her church, but also by getting her congregation more involved. The church’s board of deacons was persuaded to take immediate action to address the suicide crisis.

Because deacons in the Presbyterian tradition are called to a ministry of “compassion, witness, and service,” the board voted to designate the church’s share of the Peace & Global Witness Offering to support the New Jersey Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, an organization in which Natalie had participated for years.

Natalie’s personally moving experience resonates anew during the pandemic, and underlines the importance of this work. “Sadly, and tragically, our community has lost more people to suicide in 2020 than it has to COVID-19,” said Natalie.  

Through the Peace & Global Witness Offering, congregations are encouraged and equipped to find and address the anxiety and discord that is prevalent throughout world.  The offering supports ministries that work for reconciliation and facilitate healing. Half of the Peace & Global Witness Offering goes to the national church to address these issues around the world, 25% is retained by congregations for local peace and reconciliation work, and 25% goes to mid councils for similar ministries on the regional level.  And as you may be aware, our own church has used/will use our portion of the offering to support Neighbor to Neighbor of Jefferson County. Natalie has a message to share with us all during these unsettled times.  She reminds us to “listen and look for the light, and remember that you have a purpose, too. God is with you.”

Text PCUSAPEACE to 41444 to give to Peace & Global Witness or visit pcusa.org/peace-global for more information.

Because Water is Life

When Manuel Nazario casts his net into the water these days, his catch is far less plentiful.

In the remote area of Bolivia near the Paraguay-Argentina border, Manuel and the members of his indigenous community are finding that fishing, their traditional livelihood, is now in severe jeopardy.

The Capirendita (pronounced CAP-IR-EN-DITA) community is grappling with the devastating impact of climate change, irregular rainfall patterns, prolonged droughts, disease and mining pollution. As a result, their age-old ways of life and their means of economic support are increasingly threatened.  The degradation of the environment and the mounting lack of access to water threatens their very survival.

Manuel has emerged as one of the leaders in his fishing community. A born innovator and community organizer, he is now leading the families in Capirendita toward the promise of a better way, in partnership with a local organization called CERDET (Center for Regional Studies of Tarija). Together they are working to develop irrigation systems and to collect and store rainwater for safe drinking.

Because of gifts received through One Great Hour of Sharing, like the gifts you and I will make to this Offering here in our congregation, CERDET is building infrastructure to address the communities’ critical water shortage. Their goal is to create 500 meters of pipes to transport safe well water to those in need. Manuel will be responsible for carrying out the excavation work on the underground piping system. Our gifts will also support the distribution of plastic containers to collect and save rainwater.

One Great Hour of Sharing helps us address critical water needs in places like South Sudan, training technicians to dig water wells for their communities and on maintenance, hygiene and sanitation. And in places like Detroit, our gifts have joined We the People of Detroit to secure access to water for those who have had their water shut off during the pandemic. Imagine not being able to wash anything during the pandemic! One Great Hour of Sharing is the single, largest way that Presbyterians come together every year to share God’s love by becoming “repairers of the breach,” joining with people in need to build God’s house, together. Together we are making a better world for those in need no matter where they are. Please give generously, for when we all do a little — it adds up to a lot.

Text SHARING to 56512 to learn more about how your gift to One Great Hour of Sharing makes a difference, or visit http://pcusa.org/oghs