179 posts categorized "Bible on Hunger"
Photo by Flickr user Berto Garcia
I am new to the Wild West, but I do have the cow-girl boots to prove I am not averse to a little rough-and-tumble cowboy culture. Last fall, when I moved to my newest hometown of Casper, WY, I was transitioning out of seminary and into pastoral ministry. I chose to work at our local Starbucks as a way to get to know my new community. People and coffee are two of my life’s great passions, so what better intersection to participate in God’s reconciliation mission than a coffee shop?
I did not know until a few months into working at the shop that Sen. John Barrasso and his wife, Bobbi, were regular customers. I came to know them by their preferred coffee drinks as every good barista identifies their customers.
When I graduated from high school in Kenya and left our family home in Malawi to attend university in Idaho, my parents gifted me with a necklace from which hangs a pendant of the African continent. It has been a great conversation starter, including with Sen. Barrasso, who inquired from the other side of the espresso machine about my connections to the vast continent. I explained that South Africa was my birthplace, and we chatted about his visits to the country.
Little did I know when I was chosen as a Hunger Justice Leader for 2012 that serving coffee to one of Wyoming’s senators would become a powerful point of connection when I found myself lobbying on Capitol Hill on behalf of hungry people across the globe, in America, and in my new home-state.
Screenshot from video by Moyers & Company
Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of Network Lobby, is travelling throughout the United States on a two-week tour called, "Nuns on the Bus." The group of nuns are travelling to highlight their opposition to the House budget put forth by Rep. Paul Ryan that cuts funding to programs that help poor and hungry people.
In this short video produced by Moyers & Company, Sister Simone Campbell outlines the importance of protecting funding for food stamps in particular, and mentions Bread for the World's $50,000 campaign. She says:
"Bread for the World tells it that just on the food stamps alone Congressman Ryan is wrong that the churches can take care of this issue, because the cuts that are proposed and have been passed by the House is going to require every church, every synagogue, every mosque, every house of worship in the United States each year for 10 years to each raise $50,000. It’s impossible!"
Watch the video below:
Bread Congratulates Rev. Fred Luter Jr., First African American President of the Southern Baptist Convention
The Rev. Fred Luter Jr., a native of New Orleans, LA, and seasoned pastor, is the first African American to have been elected to serve as president of the Southern Baptist Convention, the world's largest Baptist denomination and the largest Protestant body in the United States. Bread for the World joins with all people of faith who serve the Lord Jesus Christ in celebration of his achievement!
The Southern Baptist Convention’s North American Mission Board (NAMB) has demonstrated a strong commitment to addressing the needs of poor and hungry people over its long history. NAMB administers the Domestic Hunger Fund program. Every program dollar is used exclusively to feed the world’s hungry and monies are specifically designated for and distributed to hunger ministries throughout North America. In 2011, more than $1.1 million was provided to 1,100 such hunger ministries. Also, 5.2 million meals were provided with Domestic Hunger Funds and over 30,000 professions of faith were reported through hunger ministries in North America.
Bread for the World is proud to claim Dr. Bob Terry, president and editor of the Alabama Baptist as a member of Bread’s Board of Directors. Not too long ago Dr. Terry affirmed that “Bread’s work for the poor and hungry is evidence of the spirit of the lord.” As Rev. Luter steps into his new role, Bread welcomes strong partners within the Southern Baptist Convention.
Photo caption: Press photo of Rev. Fred Luter Jr., from Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans, LA.
Q: What signs of poverty and hunger do you see in your communities?
A: I am an associate pastor and director of worship ministries in the Community of Christ. The church in Salem, OR, is really aware of hunger and poverty and they are engaging. They are trying to provide food for the weekend for kids in schools who otherwise would go without.
Q: Why do you work to advocate for hungry and poor people?
A: Hunger is a part of my own story. Even though I wasn’t necessarily aware of it, my mother’s shared stories from my childhood. As a follower of Christ, it’s just part of my essential calling to embrace the worth of all persons and caring for creation and for people.
Q: What have you learned through the Hunger Justice Leaders training?
A: I learned about the connection across the wide spectrum of Christianity. Despite all the things that divide us, there’s that common awareness and strength that we can be united in reflecting Christ when we work on hunger. I also learned that I’m not the only one who struggles to think about how to best engage our churches. And through our meetings with the White House, I realized that our voice really does have an impact. I learned not to give that up.
Q: Can you share one of the stories that your mom shared with you?
A: When we were children, one of the stories she told is how at times, even with the help of WIC, which was the only thing we had food-wise, we were still struggling financially. At one point, my mother had gone to try to get help from the faith community. A church member came and brought a box full of food and my sister and I were unpacking it and putting things away. My sister was so excited when she saw a gallon of milk that she said, does this mean we can have milk with our cereal again? It was then that the church member saw how bare our cabinets were.
This shows that sometimes you’re not necessarily aware of what the person sitting next to you at church is going through.
Ellen and Al Fisher from Cedar Rapids, IA, are attending Bread for the World's 2012 Lobby Day.
Q: What brought you to Lobby Day?
Al Fisher (AF): This is our fourth Lobby Day. We came to Lobby Day in 2007, 2009, 2011, and now 2012.
Q: Why do you commit your time and resources to come to Lobby Day?
Ellen Fisher (EF): We both feel strongly that this is a vital part of our faith. I hope to persuade the government to adopt programs to end hunger, and we hope to influence the political process and encourage greater generosity towards the poor.
Q: Are you seeing signs of poverty of hunger in your community in Cedar Rapids?
EF: Our church provides free Sunday night meals and we meet people who come back for four or five servings, and they look to me as people who live on the fringes.
AF: The unemployment rate is lower than the national average, but there is still a lot of hunger and poverty there.
Q: What do you hope to tell your members of Congress when you meet with them today?
AF: That they shouldn't cut federal nutrition programs and cut the budget on the backs of the poor. We met with a staffer last year who said that times are tough and everybody's gotta have skin in the game, but it seems unfair that 60 percent of the cuts are coming from programs for the poor.
EF: Right, saying you have to have skin in the game is one thing, but 60 percent of the cuts isn't having skin in the game, it's getting amputated!
Q: Why is hunger an important issue for you?
AF: When we adopted our two kids from South Korea, our son came into the care of the adoption agency and a very nice caring foster family the day after he was born, and then we adopted him. But our daughter had a difficult first 14 months before we adopted her, during which she was very sick and hungry. When we adopted her, at meals, she would eat with food in one hand and food in another hand. She had known hunger, so this is a personal issue for us.
Photo caption: Al Fisher and Ellen Fisher at Bread for the World's Lobby Day on June 12, 2012.
Just as Jesus fed 5,000 with just five loaves of bread and two fish, one congregation, Peace Lutheran Church in Rogers, AR, is feeding more than 18,000 people a year through their food pantry. With only 375 members, this small church packs a powerful punch when it comes to combatting hunger in their region, which is experiencing widespread rural poverty that extends into four states: Arkansas, southern Missouri, southeast Kansas, and eastern Oklahoma.
Rev. Paul Theiss pastors Peace Lutheran Church and signed Bread for the World’s recent petition to Congress that says churches cannot shoulder the burden of protecting poor and hungry people alone. When signing the petition, Rev. Theiss left this comment: “Our congregation, Peace Lutheran Church, fed over 18,000 people during 2011 through our food pantry and additional children through our subsidized preschool and childcare center. We might have to close our youth and music ministries to find enough money to feed the many more who would come looking for food help.”
I called Paul Theiss to ask him about his ministry, the unique needs in his community, and how an added cost of $50,000 a year to help poor and hungry people would impact his church. Read our conversation below:
We have 375 baptized members and our average worship attendance is about 150. We operate the largest and highest-rated Christian preschool and learning center in Rogers, AR, which takes children from 6 months to kindergarten, and is partially subsidized by federal funds for working poor parents through the state of Arkansas.
Our pantry fed 18,000 people in 2011 and we spend $20,000 to $25,000 a year on food. We also receive many in-kind donations from members, local businesses, restaurants, and friends in the community.
Have you noticed increased need in the recent years since the economic recession?
Compared to the rest of Arkansas, this area has very low unemployment, but it’s surrounded by a large area of rural poverty that extends into four states. Many of the jobs here are minimum wage, which doesn’t support a household. So it’s very common to see people working two or three jobs and still not making it. You might say they are one car breakdown or sick child away from an empty pantry.
Could you share the story of one particular food pantry participant who stands out to you?
One young lady who worships regularly with us has an infant child. She is a single mom and works at a local restaurant, and has her child in our infant care center. She receives food stamps, WIC, and subsidized childcare. Her family also helps her. She is very intelligent and capable and faithful, but she’s living on the edge. And she would be among those affected by the recent cuts enacted by the House of Representatives.
What was your response to the news that the House voted to cut funding to programs for poor and hungry people?
A sense of disbelief. Our representative is the former mayor of our town and he certainly knows the situation here, and I can’t believe that he would be responding to the need in such a way. So that’s the disbelief part of it.
I also feel overwhelmed when I think about what would happen if these cuts go through. The figure that’s put out there by Bread for the World is that every congregation would have to come up with $50,000 more per year [if House cuts are enacted]. Well, that’s an average. And for a place like Peace Lutheran Church, we’re talking about an exponential growth in need.
What is your greatest concern?
Sometimes when I park my car and walk up to the church door, I think about what it would be like if people were standing in line around the corner waiting for the pantry to open and not having enough to give them.
Where do you find hope?
That’s easy. The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. You can’t imagine a more hopeless situation than the death of Christ, and yet God brought something wonderful and powerful out of that.
The faith of the people I see who are involved in this ministry gives me hope as well. There was an anonymous note here that was given to one of our food pantry volunteers and I got a copy of it. It said:
“I’m sorry I didn’t know your name, but last month when my sister and I came to the food bank, we got here real early, and we were just sitting in my car waiting. You came out and told us to go ahead and come in. You didn’t know it, but our nephew had been in a really bad car accident. He lives with me and had just been here a few days. I needed to go ahead and do food banks, and he knew I had my cell phone and could reach me if needed. You really took a load of worry off me and my sister. God bless you, and thank you. K--- and J---”
So that’s just a touching thing when you think about how many people this volunteer has to deal with every day and he’s unemployed himself.
Jeannie Choi is associate editor at Bread for the world. Follow her on Twitter @jeanniechoi.
"Six million children die of malnutrition and hunger-related causes every year. That's 16,400 every day. Most of that is preventable. Bread for the World believes that hunger can be wiped out for only a few billion dollars -- peanuts compared with the military budgets of the world powers. If we don't respond, these children will find the door barred in their faces -- and in their case, they weren't 'foolish' but innocent. We will be the fools, but it will be too late for those who already face that closed door.
Jesus is not warning about the last judgment here, but against a judgment already taking place every day. In the world's midnight, Jesus brought the reign of God to humanity. Jesus transformed the world's midnight from a time of destitution into a time of celebration. Will we be at the wedding feast or locked out by our failure to grasp the meaning of that closed door? Perhaps there will be later feasts I can say yes to and be prepared for, but I have for all time missed the chance for this feast. The times we haven't responded to God's invitations to act add up to our unlived life."
--Walter Wink, in his reflection on the parable of the wedding feast (Matthew 25:1-13) for Hunger for the Word: Lectionary Reflections on Food and Justice. Walter Wink died May 10, 2012.
I haven’t. Oh, sure, there’ve been some months when expenses were bigger than income and I didn’t know how to pay some bills. But I’ve always had support -- financial and otherwise -- from my family when needed.
We all know that’s not the case for everyone. Right now:
- 48.8 million Americans are at risk of hunger.
- 15 percent of Americans -- including more than one-in-five children -- live in poverty.
Tragically, the House recently passed a budget that could make more Americans hungry.
This is unacceptable to me.
And this is why the church I serve, Woodridge United Methodist, recently sent 100 letters to Senator Mark Kirk and Senator Dick Durbin urging them create a circle of protection around domestic nutrition programs vital to hungry and poor Americans -- programs such as SNAP and WIC.
I signed Bread’s petition urging Congress not to cut SNAP for the same reason: Deliberately making more people hungry -- and making already hungry people even hungrier -- is unacceptable. It is unacceptable to me as a father, as a pastor, as a Christian, and as a human being, and I need my members of Congress to know that.
So Senator Durbin, Senator Kirk, and Representative Judy Biggert will see my name on Bread’s petition, and I hope your members of Congress will see your name as well. (Sign the petition here.)
To make up the gap created by those proposed cuts to SNAP churches and charities would need to do everything they’re currently doing to fight hunger ... and come up with an average of an additional $50,000 each year!
$50,000!? I know our church does not have that kind of spare change sitting around, and I know that our friends at the West Suburban Community Pantry have already seen demand for their services increase sharply -- from serving 750 families per month to 1200. The pantry does incredible work in our community, feeding more than 35,000 people last year, including more than 15,000 children. They are maxed out too.
I agree that budget deficits, especially at our current level, are unsustainable. But reducing our deficit by making hungry people hungrier is immoral.
The biblical witness is clear: As followers of God in the way of Jesus we are called to protect hungry and vulnerable people. We are called to speak with them. Signing this petition is a terrific, and, let’s be honest, easy way to do exactly that.
Photo caption: Rev. Dave Buerstetta dedicates letters written during an Offering of Letters on April 22, 2012, at Woodridge United Methodist Church in Woodridge, IL.
+Learn more about budget proposals and Bread's online petition telling Congress that churches can’t be the only ones responsible for feeding hungry people, on Thursday, May 17. Join Bread National Grassroots Conference Call and Webinar and hear more from Rev. Dave Buerstetta, the organizing staff, and one of our government relations policy analysts. Follow the webinar on Twitter with the hashtag #breadweb.
[This article was originally posted on The Huffington Post.]
When I open my Bible, it isn't hard to find a verse that underscores our responsibility as Christians to care for the least among us. Proverbs 19:17 tells us, "Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed." Unfortunately, some members of Congress don't buy into this notion. They believe instead that taking care of the most vulnerable people in our society is for the church to do alone.
Recently the U.S. House of Representatives passed a budget resolution for fiscal year 2013 that places a heavy burden on poor Americans who rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) to feed their families. The House recommended cutting more than $169 billion from SNAP. Some representatives even argued that feeding hungry people is really the work of churches, not government.
But churches can't be solely responsible for feeding poor women, children, seniors and disabled people. We also need strong government programs. In fact, all of the food churches and charities provide to hungry and poor people in the United States amounts to only about 6 percent of what the federal government spends on programs such as SNAP and school meals for students.
The Hartford Institute for Religion and Research estimates there are 335,000 religious congregations in the United States. If the House's proposals to cut SNAP by $133.5 billion and $36 billion are enacted, each congregation will have to spend about $50,000 more annually to feed those who would see a reduction or loss of benefits. Some congressional leaders are essentially saying that every church in America -- big or tiny -- needs to come up with an extra $50,000 to feed people every year for the next 10 years to make up for these cuts.
In response, Bread for the World asked people to tell members of Congress that churches can't be solely responsible for feeding hungry people. Thousands from around the country answered our call, telling us they just can't afford to do more than they're currently doing. Here are a few of their comments:
"As a small church in the middle of the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex, we are inundated with needs all around us. The proposed cost is more than we pay our full-time minister for compensation, the only full-time staff we have. We contribute to multiple charities that distribute food to those who are in need in order to ensure the best stewardship of our resources. And, yet, we are still not able to meet all of the needs. These cuts will overwhelm us." --Sarah from Arlington, Texas
"Feeding the hungry is not a choice -- it is a moral imperative. But the food pantries and soup kitchens in this area funded by the generosity of church members already are serving those in need at capacity and beyond in these tough economic times. We are doing our part. We expect that our government will do the same." --Alexandra from Troy, N.Y.
"Addressing the needs of the hungry and poor is something that requires BOTH local congregation action and ALSO local and national government support. I urge our legislators at all levels to maintain strong support of government programs that help the poor and needy." --Brian from Fond Du Lac, Wis.
"Already we get innumerable calls for emergency assistance. We have no idea how these families are sufficiently getting the necessary nutrients for their children and family. To increase the number of people would be overwhelming and those churches who try to help with their shrinking congregations might totally give up." -Tempe of Jamestown, N.C.
"We fed over 32,000 people last year and we are tapped! We can barely pay our own bills, and if we are pushed any further we won't be able to keep our doors open, thus NOT being able to feed the ones we already are!! PLEASE DON'T cut any feeding programs." -Kirk of Sparks, Nev.
It's time for members of Congress to tell people -- like Brian from Wisconsin, Alexandra from New York, Tempe from North Carolina and Sarah from Texas -- that they're going to do their part and support legislation that creates a circle of protection around programs that are vital to hungry and poor people.
Photo caption: Senior Pastor Judith VanOsdol leads the noon church service at El Milagro (The Miracle) Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, MN. The parish, which is Spanish-English bilingual, is made up of many members who depend on WIC and SNAP to feed their families. VanOsdol spent 17 years as a missionary pastor in South America. Photograph by Laura Elizabeth Pohl
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