Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger
 

180 posts categorized "Bible on Hunger"

November's Bread for the Preacher: Seeking Leaders for Justice

6521600661_3c17cb404f_bDid you know that each month the church relations department at Bread for the World produces a resource specifically for pastors? Whether you are searching for inspiration for a sermon you're writing, or just a lectionary enthusiast, Bread for the Preacher is for you.

After reading this introduction, explore this month’s readings on the Bread for the Preacher web page, where you can also sign up to have the resource emailed to you each month.

By Bishop José García

We are at a unique moment in history that makes ending hunger possible by 2030. In order to do this, however, the U.S. government must do its part to lead here and around the world in the work of making hunger history. Bread for the World has a plan to do our part to make this a reality. We must win a series of advocacy victories, urge our government to take the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals seriously, and, of course, elect officials who will make ending hunger a priority by 2017. Our texts make clear this month that now is the time for justice and that justice is impossible without good leaders.

Bread for the World has launched a campaign called Bread Rising, which will enable this plan, strengthen the organization financially, strengthen our collective Christian voice in every congressional district, and ground our advocacy in prayer and God's love. In the coming months, we will be calling on our partners to pray, to act, and to give as part of the campaign. We hope you will join us. To learn more about the campaign visit www.bread.org/rising.

Bishop José García
is the director of church relations at Bread for the World.

Photo: Pastor Judith VanOsdol leads the noon church service at El Milagro (The Miracle) Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, MN. (Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World)

A Mercy Story

SU Church Alter
Silliman University church. (Adlai Amor)

By Adlai Amor

Bread staff are often invited to preach in congregations across the country. For Bread for the World Sunday, Adlai Amor, director of communications, was invited to preach at the Union Church in Waban in Newton, Mass., and to make a presentation on "Advocacy in a time of Hyper-Partisanship." Here is an excerpt of his sermon when he shared an experience of mercy and compassion during one of his family's most difficult times.

He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? 

Micah 6:8

Justice. Mercy. Humility.

I often do not share my mercy story in the United States, other than if I am among Filipinos. But since the late Philippine senator Ninoy Aquino, father of current Philippine president Noynoy Aquio, spent the last years of his life here in Newton, I will share it with you.  

I was just a high school student at Silliman University when Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law in 1972. Ninoy Aquino, other opposition senators, and hundreds of student activists including many from my alma mater (established by Presbyterian missionaries) were arrested.

The economy tanked amid all the uncertainty. I remember my father, a lawyer, earning only the equivalent of $2 in October, November, and December that year. Two dollars to feed, clothe, and educate a family of 7 children in three months. We made it only because of the compassion of friends who had more than we had and my father’s family pooling all their resources to see us through until better times. 

It was a time when I, driven by a sudden lack of freedom, began to take my faith more seriously. But we were luckier than many. Other students, family and friends who were arrested by the military suffered much more. In our worship services, our pastor often drew on Micah 6:8. He stressed that in those times, mercy, compassion, and kindness were our best weapons in fighting injustice and in ensuring that our imprisoned families and friends were cared for.

Several Silliman Church leaders were models of compassion – being kind not only to those who were imprisoned, but also to their jailers. Young soldiers who did not fully understand what they were doing there and why these people were in a military jail.

Thinking back on it, I realize that many members of the Silliman Church and the university community were actually modern Micahs, but working quietly underground. Their roles were certainly not minor, but huge to those who were in prison and to those who imprisoned them. Our weapon of choice was kindness and mercy. Kindness and mercy not only to our friends and family, but also to our foes, the jailer-soldiers and their military commanders.

Justice. Mercy. Humility.

These are what God requires of us. Not just one of them, but all three. I must confess that advocacy is hard work. Advocating justly, mercifully, and with humility is especially difficult to do. There are times when I doubt that God has called me to be an advocate, but God refuses to give up on me. With such love, I cannot simply give up on God.


Bread for the Preacher: A Just and Loving Social Order

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 (Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World)

Did you know that each month the church relations department at Bread for the World produces a resource specifically for pastors? Whether you are searching for inspiration for a sermon you're writing, or just a lectionary enthusiast, Bread for the Preacher is for you.

After reading this introduction, explore this month’s readings on the Bread for the Preacher web page, where you can also sign up to have the resource emailed to you each month.

By Rev.Nancy Neal

I have been part of several conversations in the last few days about how the news seems more troubling than usual. There is trouble in Ferguson, Mo., in Iraq and Syria, in Israel and Palestine, and Ukraine. There are unaccompanied refugee children crossing the U.S.-Mexico border and floods, droughts, and earthquakes in the western parts of the United States. We are more aware of happenings around the world because of technology and the internet, but it seems that this only brings us closer to some aspect of injustice.

And hunger is front and center. As Bread for the World seeks to end hunger by 2030, we will be working on a variety of issues through the lens of hunger because we are working for an end of hunger that is sustainable and just. The texts this month remind us that God is relentless in working for a just and loving social order. Each week offers us an opportunity to explore aspects of God’s righteousness, whether it is through stories of forgiveness and fair wages or even God’s call through the prophets for repentance.

Reverend Nancy Neal is the associate for denominational women's organzation relations at Bread for the World

Desperate Times, Desperate Measures for Parents and Children at the Border

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Catarina Pascual Jimenez (center) feeds her two twins. (Bread for the World)

By Bishop José García

The Holy Scripture relates the story of a mother, Jochebed. Hard times and a famine led her country to a condition of slavery, oppression, and persecution. Her child was under a death sentence. All of these circumstances led her to take a desperate solution. Rather than waiting for the direst of outcomes, she put the baby in a basket and placed him in the river banks, hoping this way he would have better chances for survival.  

This same story within a 21st century context is now repeated for thousands of families in Central America. Parents are facing hunger, poverty and hard times in their countries. Oppression and violence threaten their children. Many have two options: join the organized criminal gangs or die. Out of desperation these parents are doing the same thing Jochebed did, sending their children on a journey to a country where they will have better chances to live and make better choices. The Los Angeles Times reported recently that some of the children who have been deported back to their home country have lost their lives upon their return, victims of the violence they fled. It is by God’s grace only that we enjoy the freedom and privileges of our country. We cannot ignore the plight of these children and their families.

The Bible teaches that there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him(Romans 10:12). Jesus taught us that we should love our neighbor as ourselves. In a more direct admonition about the treatment of immigrants among us, Leviticus 19:33-34 says: “When an alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien. The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.”

As Christians, we are called to live by the principles and values of the Kingdom of God, and to be an extension of Jesus’s love, compassion, and example of service. The Scripture admonishes us, “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it” (Proverbs 3:27). We have the power to call our members of Congress to respond to this crisis in a compassionate way. And our members of Congress have the power to act with a humanitarian and dignified way to this crisis.

Will you act?

Email your members of Congress.  Simply say: I urge you to respond to the surge of unaccompanied children crossing the border. Please pass legislation that addresses the conditions of poverty, hunger, and violence in Central America that are forcing them to leave.

The Perfect Food: Celebrating World Breastfeeding Week

Pisano program
(Joseph Molieri/Bread for the World)


By Robin Stephenson

Breastfeeding was not something I expected to be a key point in a sermon on hunger, until I heard Rev. Dr. James Forbes.

“In God’s world, food is not negotiable,” said the renowned preacher to those gathered for a homiletics course in Portland, Oregon, last year. He paused to let the statement sink in. “God made the arrangement that every child has food to eat.”

Rev. Forbes was talking about breastfeeding. Women are designed to produce not just food, but the perfect food.

Earlier in the year, I visited a local WIC clinic – a domestic nutrition program designed to help women, infants, and children at nutritional risk. Walking in the door, I was greeted by a poster on the wall. One side of the sheet was a short list of the ingredients in formula with a lot of hard-to-pronounce words. The other side included the long list of what comprises breast milk – ingredients that change over time with the baby’s nutritional needs. Wow, I thought, God is an amazing creator!

It is World Breastfeeding Week, a yearly campaign to raise awareness about the importance of breastfeeding. The perfect food is a key resource in combatting hunger and malnutrition.

Globally, malnutrition leads to about 3 million deaths of children under five each year – deaths that could be prevented. There is a critical1,000-day “window of opportunity” between pregnancy and a child’s second birthday where nutrition is vitally important. Investments in nutrition interventions can prevent stunting and other harmful consequences of malnutrition. Nutrients received through breastfeeding provide important protections to fight infection and disease. Malnutrition, especially in children under age 2, can affect brain development, cognitive performance, and even earning potential later in life. Yet, only 37 percent of the world’s babies are breastfed for the recommended six months.

World leaders are starting to see nutrition as an ingredient of economic growth. In this week’s U.S.-Africa Summit in Washington, D.C., Nigeria’s Agriculture Minister Akinwumi Adesina said, “We invest so much in infrastructure, in bridges and roads. But most important is grey matter. We really need to invest in that.” It was reported from the Summit that poorly fed children rob Africa of up to 16 percent of its potential growth. Exclusive breastfeeding and early childhood nutrition is one of the best investments Africa can make – one of the best investments every country should make in their children.

Lawmakers in the United States have a role to play. The United States has a global nutrition strategy through USAID (the U.S. Agency for International Development), but Congress has proposed budget cuts to international programs that promote nutrition. Domestic nutrition programs like WIC, which help American mothers learn about breastfeeding, have seen their funding shrink over the last few years.

Adequate funding for programs that invest in nutrition both here and abroad is a smart investment. After all, in God’s world, food is not negotiable.

Robin Stephenson is the national lead for social media and senior organizer in the western hub.

They Are Our Children

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Poverty, hunger, and violence have caused a surge in child migration to the United States from countries like Guatemala, which has the highest child malnutrition rate in the Western Hemisphere. (Joseph Molieri/Bread for the World)

By Rev. Carlos L. Malavé

The most important responsibility of the Church is to promote, nurture, and protect human life and dignity. When the Church relinquishes this duty because of political expediency, or even in defense of its theological and ideological convictions, it loses its moral grounding and credibility.

The Church is called to be the most unequivocal expression of the heart and conscience of Christ. The way we respond to the cries of the children of God either affirms our legitimacy or exposes our failure. Our allegiance is not to the political, theological, or sociological winds of the time. Our allegiance is to the one who will call us into account when the last act of the human drama wraps up.

Every follower of Christ, every minister, and every local congregation must offer refuge to those seeking freedom, healing, and salvation. Our ears cannot become deaf to the words of Jesus: “Because you did it unto one of these little ones, you have done it unto me.”

In an introduction to a published sermon of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “The American Dream,” Bishop T.D. Jakes, Sr. says, “It would appear to me that in many ways our country has lowered its head into the soft satiny pillow of apathy. We have been lulled to sleep by indifference and rest in the vain pursuit of economical images of success while a stone’s throw away there are children dying in the streets” (A Knock at Midnight, p. 79).

There are children dying in the streets of Chicago and Philadelphia, and there are also children dying in the Sonoran Desert and the Rio Grande. They are our children. They are our children because we are one human family. The children of Salvadorian, Honduran, and Guatemalan families are as human and as important as my own three children. How can anyone think that their own children have the right to live in peace and security while denying this same right to others?

Pastors and members of our congregations must guard their souls from apathy and the callousness that pervade our political and economic systems. We are called to be Christ to all, but in a very intentional and biased way, we must be Christ to destitute, hungry, and oppressed people. Our actions, care, and concern for poor people reveal the presence or absence of the living Christ in us.

The Church in the United States must seize this incredible opportunity. We are followers of the one who said, “Let the children come to me…” (Luke 18:16). How do we dare to send them away? The Church is responsible before God’s eyes to live—or even to die—in the pursuit and defense of human live and dignity. Christ is in the journey with our children. Christ is a witness of our actions. Christ is also calling us.

Rev. Carlos L. Malavé is the executive director of Christian Churches Together, an ecumenical organization that brings together a wide variety of denominations and organizations to build relationships with each other. Bread for the World is a participating organization.

This post originally appeared in Bread for the World's August online newsletter

August's Bread for the Preacher: Let the Children Come

Forbes with Bible
(Joseph Molieri/Bread for the World)


Did you know that each month the church relations department at Bread for the World produces a resource specifically for pastors? Whether you are searching for inspiration for a sermon you're writing, or just a lectionary enthusiast, Bread for the Preacher is for you.

After reading this introduction, explore this month’s readings on the Bread for the Preacher web page, where you can also sign up to have the resource emailed to you each month.

By Rev. Nancy Neal

For weeks, the news has been filled with stories of unnamed, faceless, unaccompanied children crossing the U.S.-Mexico border in droves. Americans have greeted them with varied responses, from blocking buses to welcoming children into churches. Our texts this month offer insights into a faithful response to people fleeing danger and hunger in search of safety and security. We are reminded of God’s promise of abundance, God’s steadfastness, God’s miracles, and God’s call for us to be God’s justice-making hands in the world.

Rev. Nancy Neal is associate for Denominational Women's Organization Relations at Bread for the World.

 

Let Your Light Shine and Change the World

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Margaret Edmondson, an Idaho constituent, talks to Senator Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) during Bread for the World's 2012 Lobby Day in Washington, D.C. (Rick Reinhard).

By Amelia Kegan

What does it mean to live out the Lord’s Prayer and seek to build heaven on earth? How can we be the light that can transform a broken world? I believe, especially for Americans, the answer lies in using our gifts of citizenship. When we live out our faith in the public arena, the world can change.

I’m fortunate that I have a job that allows me to live out my faith. I’m a domestic policy analyst for a faith-based anti-hunger organization. My job is to understand public policy moving through Congress and analyze how it affects hunger.

I spend a lot of time on Capitol Hill urging members of Congress to vote for legislation that can end hunger and poverty. I know the impact the faith community has in the nation’s capital. When I lift up the needs of those struggling with hunger and poverty to members of Congress, I feel that I am living out my faith. When I hear from congressional staff that they received a pack of letters from a church back home in their state or district, so they already know about the issue I’m bringing up, I see God moving in our time and through our work to end hunger.

I meet many Christian leaders on Capitol Hill, and they, too, can be moved by your faith. There's a power in the Christian voice that the special interests just can't compete with. When we testify to God’s love for all in the public arena, we build a better world.

In Deuteronomy 6, Moses preaches: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” The city gates! You don't get more public than that.

Talking with people of influence – our elected leaders, as well as our friends, family, and fellow church congregants – about a world without hunger is part of living out our faith. Advocating about issues of hunger opens the gates for those left on the margins of society.

Our love of God should show up in everything we do. It is tempting to act out of that love when it's easy and convenient, but God's love is a love we cannot contain — it shines. It must be present and visible in all the public spaces of our lives — including in our role as citizens.

Each June, Bread for the World members gather in Washington, D.C., for our annual Lobby Day. If you cannot join us in person in Washington, consider taking the pledge to join our virtual Lobby Day. Our whole community must come together in order to really make an impact, so we hope you’ll join us.

Amelia Kegan is deputy director of government relations at Bread for the World.

Updated Resource: The Biblical Basis for Advocacy to End Hunger

Biblical_Basis_for_Advocacy“Throughout the Scriptures, God calls people into community and sets the expectation that leaders (whether they are kings, pharaohs, or governments) should care for their people (Psalm 72:2). Therefore, we also reflect God’s love by challenging individuals and institutions given the power to change laws and structures that keep people vulnerable. We work toward a just world in which every person has an opportunity to thrive. We participate in showing God’s love and honor the dignity and worth of our neighbors.”

Excerpt from The Biblical Basis for Advocacy to End Hunger.

As a collective Christian voice, Bread for the World grounds our work to end hunger with Scripture. The Biblical Basis for Advocacy to End Hunger outlines nine biblical themes that guide our mission.

  1. God loves us. Jesus’ greatest commandments are that we love God and each other.
  2. Humankind was created out of God’s love and in God’s Image, so we are to respect the dignity of every person.
  3. God has a special concern for poor and vulnerable people.
  4. God provides out of God’s abundance.
  5. All creation is reconciled with God through Jesus Christ, and we are to be agents of reconciliation.
  6. God loves justice and requires us to do justice and love kindness.
  7. Jesus said, “Whatever you do for the least of these you do for me.” We do Christ’s work when we act with and for hungry and poor people.
  8. We hear God’s voice in Scripture and respond with the faithful use of our own voices.
  9. God has a role for government to play in the protection and development of people.

Each section in the pamphlet includes Bible verses and references to people and stories that illuminate the call to end hunger through advocacy. We encourage you to use the brochure as the basis for a conversation in your church or community, and explore how God calls us to end the brokenness of hunger and poverty in our world.

The free resource is available online for download; print copies can be ordered through our store.  Let us know in the comments how you were able to use the resource: as an individual exploration, as a Christian educator leading an adult forum or study group, or as a small spiritual-formation group seeking to ground your understanding of how the Bible talks about hunger and advocacy.

JustFaith: Transforming Churches

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A banquet Table at Bread for the World's June 2013 National Gathering in Washington, D.C. (Joseph Molieri/Bread for the World).

"But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”  Luke 14: 13-14 (NIV)

Many Bread members have introduced their churches to JustFaith, an adult education program that explores the biblical prescription to heal our broken world and foster congregational and individual wholeness. The 30 weekly sessions are carefully planned for faith sharing that includes prayer, study, and immersion. Each week’s curriculum deepens the participants' understanding of the biblical basis for advocacy. 

Bread members Bob and Janet Raes facilitated the program at West Linn Lutheran in Oregon and saw how it transformed lives. 

The immersion part of the program helps break down invisible barriers that hide suffering in the world. Bob and Janet recalled how simply listening to a homeless couple’s experience opened up a new world to their group. The homeless couple told a story of selling bracelets on the sidewalk with their dog and feeling that they weren't treated with dignity. A passerby offered them money to feed their dog, but ignored them as people. The message to the couple was that the dog deserved compassion, but they did not.

"Our groups said 'we are going to really see people,'" said Janet. "Some ride the bus now and that has just changed them."  Their congregation sponsored 3 months of rent to transition a homeless family into stable housing, and spent the time to help them move in and listen to their goals. Bob and Janet know that compassion is relational.

Through JustFaith, participants learn about both charity and advocacy—the latter is often harder for churches to embrace. "People are so allergic to the word 'advocate'—instead of advocating we say we are 'seeking justice,'" said Bob. JustFaith has helped their church to take a deeper look at the root causes of hunger and write letters as part of Bread for the World’s yearly Offering of Letters campaign, which asks Congress to create programs and policies that end hunger and poverty.

Even though participants in JustFaith are a small subset of any congregation, as other parishioners see the group transform it leads to changes in the church. “It’s an invasive species,” said Janet, with a smile.

With fall—the typical starting time for a JustFaith group—just around the corner, many churches are posting information and forming groups.  If you would like to learn more and find out how you can start a group, contact your regional organizer.

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