Faith is a Living, Daring Confidence

“Faith is a living, daring confidence in God’s grace, so sure and certain that a man could stake his life on it a thousand times” – Martin Luther 

Faith is a living, daring confidence.  Wow! What language from Martin Luther. And his life certainly had to thrive off of daring. It’s not often we think of someone having to take a stand, and in this case, he took a stand to create a new branch of Christianity, Lutheranism.

When the Roman Catholic church solicited more funds for building St. Peter’s Basilica, Luther wrote 95 Theses to protest and foment discussion. He felt it was using money to excess, and disagreed that the pope was the only liaison to God.  And due to the recent printing press, it spread all over Europe in two months, a communications miracle!

He meant it for discussion, but was excommunicated from the Roman Catholic church, and ostracized by thousands. But he kept going.

Still, Martin Luther’s life had challenges. He felt distanced from God, separated from inspiration and connection to life. He was always searching for the Truth, and it was a struggle.  He became a monk, a theologist, leader of a church, and always, a sincere seeker of Truth.

So what is the point for us? Well, it’s not really about being Roman Catholic or Protestant!  But it is about claiming rights for yourself and others where you can. And, using technology to spread the word!

What do you need to take a stand for today?   Join UniversalGiving and support one of our causes to make a difference today.  Click on I Want to Give my 100%! to see which special one we chose for you!

With Gratitude for the Truth,

Pamela

Martin Luther Biographymartin-luther-1076781_1280

Born in Germany in 1483, Martin Luther became one of the most influential figures in Christian history when he began the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century. He called into question some of the basic tenets of Roman Catholicism, and his followers soon split from the Roman Catholic Church to begin the Protestant tradition.
Martin Luther was born on November 10, 1483, in Eisleben, Saxony, in modern southeast Germany.  In 1501, Martin Luther entered the University of Erfurt, where he received a Master of Arts degree (in grammar, logic, rhetoric and metaphysics). However, in July 1505, Luther had a life-changing experience that set him on a new course. Caught in a horrific thunderstorm where he feared for his life, Luther cried out to St. Anne, the patron saint of miners, “Save me, St. Anne, and I’ll become a monk!” The storm subsided and he was saved.
The first few years of monastery life were difficult for Martin Luther, as he did not find the religious enlightenment he was seeking. Upon his return to Germany, he enrolled in the University of Wittenberg in an attempt to suppress his spiritual turmoil. He excelled in his studies and received a doctorate, becoming a professor of theology at the university.Through his studies of scripture, Martin Luther finally gained religious enlightenment.
In 1517, Pope Leo X announced a new round of indulgences to help build St. Peter’s Basilica. On October 31, 1517, an angry Martin Luther nailed a sheet of paper with 95 theses on the university’s chapel door. Though he intended these to be discussion points, the Ninety-Five Theses laid out a devastating critique of the indulgences as corrupting people’s faith. Luther also sent a copy to Archbishop Albert Albrecht of Mainz, calling on him to end the sale of indulgences. Aided by the printing press, copies of the Ninety-Five Theses spread throughout Germany within two weeks and throughout Europe within two months.
Luther publicly declared that the Bible did not give the pope the exclusive right to interpret scripture.   In January 1521, Martin Luther was officially excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church.Miraculously, he was able to avoid capture and began organizing a new church, Lutheranism. He gained many followers and got support from German princes. In 1525, he married Katharina von Bora, a former nun who had abandoned the convent and taken refuge in Wittenberg. Together, over the next several years, they had six children.
Martin Luther is one of the most influential and controversial figures in the Reformation movement. His actions fractured the Roman Catholic Church into new sects of Christianity and set in motion reform within the Church. A prominent theologian, his desire for people to feel closer to God led him to translate the Bible into the language of the people, radically changing the relationship between church leaders and their followers.

Famine in South Sudan: Take Action with Mercy Corps

Four months ago, famine was officially declared in South Sudan, the youngest country in the world. Since then, thousands of families have been living day-by-day, mothers have skipped multiple meals a day to feed their hungry children, and millions of individuals have only eaten three or four times a week in to conserve their shortening food supply. 42% of the country’s population does not know where their next meal is coming from.

However, what is most surprising, and even disturbing, about this famine is that it is a man-made crisis. Typically, famines are caused by uncontrollable factors, such as unfavorable weather or crop failure. However, the extreme food shortages occurring today in countries such as South Sudan, Yemen, Nigeria and Somalia are entirely attributed to war and continuing conflict, putting 20 million lives at risk of starvation and death. As VP of humanitarian leadership and response for Mercy Corps states, “It’s entirely a man-made construct right now, and that means we have it within our power to stop that. Wars are hard to stop; famines are not.”

Organizations such as Mercy Corps serve as a platform for immediate change when these types of global disasters and emergencies occur. Over the past 20 years, Mercy Corps has directly responded to every single global crisis. They have provided basic necessities such as food and water, as well as delivered assistance in the form of cash to families in need. These families then have the agency to purchase what they need most which stimulates their local economies and communities. This is a perfect example of Mercy Corp’s deeply-held belief and commitment to grassroots change. Mercy Corps hopes to mitigate similar situations from occurring in the future, as well as empower those who live in these affected areas. Mercy Corps has helped 220 million people in 122 countries build better futures for themselves, their families and their communities.

As these conflicts in South Sudan, Yemen, Nigeria and Somalia inevitably continue, the number of starving families and individuals increases. It is imperative that we take action and assist those in need of basic food and water resources. Here are several ways you can help and make a difference today!

  1. Support global emergency response efforts by donating here
  2. Give to Mercy Corp’s Humanitarian Response Fund in order to directly assist families suffering from famine
  3. Sign Mercy Corps’ petition to reject detrimental federal cuts on the International Aid budget

 

Juliana Margulies – Smile at a Stranger, and the Important Reason Why

This post is by CEO Pamela Hawley’s from her blog Living and Giving.

 

“Walk down the street and smile at a stranger. He’ll smile at the next stranger passing by, and then the whole street is smiling. And no one knows why.”  — Juliana Margulies

I love this quote. The only reason why we need to smile…is simply to give joy.  Give joy to ourselves and to others…it’s one of our main reasons for being.  And while people may not know why you are smiling, they’ll soon find out:  It makes the world go around with peacefulness, graciousness, and lovingkindness.  That’s reason enough. 🙂

Juliana Margulies is an American actress who achieved success as a regular character on ER, for which she received an Emmy.  More recently, she took the lead role in The Good Wife, and has received a Golden Globe and two Screen Actors Guild awards.

Mosquito Nets Save Lives

By Develop Africa

For World Malaria Day (Tuesday) here is a blog post from our NGO partner Develop Africa.

Sub-Saharan Africa has faced health related challenges for many years, including Ebola, which gained worldwide attention a few years ago when it spread beyond the continent of Africa and threatened lives abroad. Thankfully, the 2014-2015 Ebola Outbreak has been contained, but as much of the world starts to relax, Africa continues its ongoing fight against malaria.

In 2015, Sub-Saharan Africa suffered the largest number of malaria infections in comparison to any other region or country in the world, claiming 90% of malaria infections and 92% of malaria-caused deaths worldwide [1]. Sadly, over 300,000 children under the age of five died in 2015 in Africa because of malaria [1]. Although these statistics are staggering, they represent a dramatic reduction of malaria infections since 2010, proving that prevention and treatment methods are making a positive impact [1].

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), insecticide-treated mosquito nets are an effective prevention tool that can be used to protect those who are at high risk of malaria infection [1]. People with suppressed immune systems are at particular risk of malaria infection, including pregnant women and HIV-infected individuals [2].

Develop Africa wants to provide people in Sub-Saharan Africa with the resources needed to fight against malaria. With volunteers already in place in the region, Develop Africa is in a position to make effective contributions to this fight in countries like Sierra Leone, Cameroon, and The Gambia. You can join our fight by making a donation here; we will use the money for life-saving mosquito nets. We also have an active fundraising campaign on Facebook where you can donate and share this fundraiser with your friends.

The world will never be free from the risk of malaria until we defeat the problem at the epicenter. It is our hope that by raising additional funds for malaria prevention we can help make a difference and save lives together.

Donate to Develop Africa hereand view Develop Africa’s blog here.

References:

[1] World Health Organization. 10 facts on malaria. Retrieved March 19, 2017 from http://www.who.int/features/factfiles/malaria/en/

[2] World Health Organization. Malaria: Fact sheet. Retrieved March 19, 2017 from http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs094/en/

Authors of Develop Africa’s Blog

Take Action for Earth Week

Earth Day is celebrated in over 192 countries.  Here are just a few ways the UniversalGiving team has contributed.

Volunteering for the SPCA, and saving sea turtles in Mexico.

Cleaning Ocean Beach with Surfrider Foundation!

Picture01Day of service at the park!

You can take action by donating to UniversalGiving’s amazing environmental NGO partners.

  1. Help reduce CO2 emissions by providing energy efficient lights for people in Sierra Leone.
  2. Help save endangered species.

Or volunteer your time to save the planet.

  1. Fight to conserve and protect Costa Rica sea turtles.
  2. Restore the forest ecosystems of the Osa Penninsula.