The New York Times recently reported that Willow Creek pastor Bill Hybels was speaking in terms that "would warm a liberal's heart." Hybels, noting the need for churches to "try to transform their communities," said: "If there is racial injustice in your community, you have to speak to that. If there is educational injustice, you have to do something there. If the poor are being neglected by the government or being oppressed in some way, then you have to stand up for the poor."
Why are those liberal statements? WORLD is known as a conservative Christian magazine, but for two decades we've been critiquing racial injustice, educational injustice, and oppression of the poor. Those aren't liberal themes, those are human themes, and they are also the themes of what was known for a time as "compassionate conservatism."
That expression is now mostly dead, but the work of compassionate Christians is very much alive. A column I wrote in April asked WORLD readers to nominate poverty-fighting groups that are "explicitly Christian, with ample use of volunteers and a track record of creating bonds between helpers and helped. They should demonstrate ethical financial practice. . . . What they're doing in one place should be doable by others elsewhere."
We received several hundred nominations. Philanthropy analyst Jill Lacey and I read the wonderful letters many of you sent in, examined websites, telephoned directors to garner more information, made our lists and checked them twice. I then assigned reporters to eyeball the most interesting ministries and write about what they saw.
The following pages contain profiles of three of the ministries. We plan for the two October issues of WORLD to contain six more profiles. The American Bible Society is co-sponsoring with us a dinner in Dallas on Oct. 16 when we will announce three winners of the Hope Award; ABS will distribute a total of $20,000 to those winners. We'll have names and photos from the winning ministries here on our website soon after that, along with the names of the readers who nominated them.
• Church of the disabled | by Alisa Harris in Anoka, Minn.
• CrossOver appeal | by Emily Belz in Richmond, Va.
• Forgiven, not forgotten | by Jamie Dean in Maury, N.C.
For more information on this year's Hope Award for Effective Compassion and to read profiles of other nominated organizations from this year and previous years, click here.