Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger
 

75 posts categorized "Faith"

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.

 

Lobby Day is 'the coolest'

Libby capitol 2By Libby McDermott

As a Young Adult Volunteer [a program of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)] in Boston, I have gotten to do a lot of cool things: working with some amazing organizations, nonprofits, and farms; going to movie showings and panel discussions on a regular basis; and learning how to make things like applesauce, noodles, and chicken stock from scratch. Working with Bread for the World and getting to participate in and help with Lobby Day, aka the happiest and most chaotic day of the year for Bread staffers, was probably the coolest.

I flew into D.C. for the National Gathering and Lobby Day, June 9 and 10, along with hundreds of other Christians from all different backgrounds and denominations. I had the opportunity to meet wonderful people from all over the country and made some great connections with fellow Presbyterians.

What sets Bread apart from other nonprofit and social-justice, political-advocacy organizations is faith– it’s the source and reason for their power. There were political analysts and people from Washington who are knowledgeable and have influence, but that’s not who resonated with or moved the crowd. Speakers who shared their powerful testimony of being a young, undocumented American or being a returning citizen trying to get a job or a buy a house after being released from prison really got to the heart of why we do this work of political advocacy. Even when – especially when – the goal of ending hunger and poverty seems daunting and impossible, we are reminded that we are not alone and that we can do these things together in faith.

On Lobby Day, we heard great speeches about the day’s topics – immigration reform and food-aid reform – and why as Christians it’s important to be a voice for the voiceless. I couldn’t decide if it was a political briefing with a lot of Scripture or a sermon with a lot of specific numbers. Then it was game time. We split into regions, then states, then districts to plan the visits with our senators and representatives. I was in charge of the Massachusetts delegation, about ten in total. We planned who was going to say what, grabbed lunch, and got on the shuttle to Capitol Hill. The energy in the room and on the shuttle bus was pretty palpable; everyone was excited, nervous, and ready to go.

As we were riding on the van, it hit me – on streets full of charter buses and tourists, here we are, a group of Christians, all different kinds, from all over the country, coming together because our faith demands that we act when we see injustice, poverty, and hunger in the world, and that’s exactly what we were doing. It felt empowering, exciting, and important. One of or mottoes of the day was, “If you have the faith of a mustard seed, you can move Congress,” and that’s exactly what we were going to do.

We met with aides from Sen. Ed Markey's, Sen. Elizabeth Warren's, and Rep. Katherine Clark’s offices. We had great conversations with them all explaining why food aid and immigration reform are so necessary and why we care so much about the oppressed and the hungry. We even got to speak with Rep. Clark and take a picture with her.

At the end of the long day there was a reception to honor retiring members of Congress who have championed issues of ending hunger and poverty, usually because their faith, rather than political party, demands that they do so. Lobby Day ended with a worship service where people shared where they experienced God during the day and in their lobby visits. People raised up all of the hard work of the staff, the community among the members, the feeling of accomplishment and civic responsibility after meeting with Congresspeople and advocating for people who can’t pay for lobbyists.

I left feeling exhausted but inspired and committed to this work of fighting injustice, and encouraged and grateful to be working with such a wonderful staff and to join my voice with this great cloud of witnesses on Capitol Hill.

Libby McDermott is an intern in the organizing department at Bread for the World and a participant in the Presbyterian young adult volunteer program.  This blog post originally appeared in Food and Faith, a blog of the Presbyterian Hunger Program.

Photo:  Libby McDermott in front of the Capitol in Washington, D.C., June 10, 2014. (Courtesy of Libby McDermott).

July's Bread for the Preacher: Hunger is a Hot Issue This Summer

'Holy Bible' photo (c) 2009, Steve Snodgrass - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

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

The last couple of years have required us as an anti-hunger movement to focus on protecting our country's safety net. Yet we know that in order to actually end hunger, we must wrestle with the issues and policies that keep people poor. The texts this month offer strange and confounding stories that help us get to the many dimensions of the work of ending hunger.

Bread for the World is rolling out a new, long-term campaign, Bread Rising, which aims to end hunger by 2030. You will hear more about Bread Rising in the coming months with a call for more prayer, action, and giving. Bread for the World invites individuals, churches, and partners across the nation to join us — by praying, acting, and giving — to create a world without hunger.

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

Leaning Into Revival at Bread for the World’s 2014 National Gathering

Derek
Recent graduate of Yale Divinity School, Bread for the World board member, and former Hunger Justice Leader Derick Dailey opens the 2014 National Gathering. (Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World)

Starting where Bread for the World always starts, we began with the Word of God. 

In a sermon delivered at the opening of our 2014 National Gathering, Bread for the World board member and former Hunger Justice Leader Derick Dailey invited the audience – and all Bread advocates – to break the cycle of hunger and poverty. To do that, Dailey preached, believers must also break the cycle of complacency; we must exhibit grace and spiritually renew one another.  We must also revive Congress, which makes the policies and programs that can end hunger, both here at home and abroad.

Forty years ago, Art Simon founded Bread for the World to live out God’s vision that all have enough to eat. The National Gathering, being held this week in Washington, D.C., is a time of listening and learning as we work together to end hunger by 2030.  Dailey’s sermon reminded the audience that hope is integral to this work.

Two biblical narratives that illuminate hope and healing can guide the faithful in today’s world, where hunger and poverty persist. In Exodus, the Israelites come out of what seems like a hopeless sojourn in the dessert.  In Acts, the Apostle Paul revives after a sentence of stoning for healing a crippled beggar. 

Hope comes in realizing that we are not alone – we are partners with God in this work. Dailey reminded us that we worship with a “God of hope, and not a God of hopelessness. Not a God of scarcity, but a God of more than enough. Not a God of foreclosure, but a God with arms big enough for everyone and able to do more than we can conceive.”

Like those who have struggled in the biblical past, Bread for the World members face a wilderness. Sometimes the work to end hunger seems impossible because of the climate of brinksmanship in Congress. But, Dailey reminds us, that church can and should be a beacon of hope. God is bigger and better than politics, Dailey said.

“Congress is alive because it belongs to the American people, not big money and Super PACs. And the Church is definitely alive because it belongs to a risen Savior. “

Revival, says Daily, is the key, and only requires believing people "to surround us, revive us, resuscitate us, and breathe life back into our broken and crippled situations.” The faithful gathered today in Washington, D.C., and all across the nation, are shepherding a spiritual revival of renewed hope. And we take a message of hope and healing to Capitol Hill tomorrow as part of Lobby Day, shining God’s light in this broken world.

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Read the full sermon delivered by Derick Dailey during today’s at Bread for the World’s National Gathering after the jump.

Believers who aren't in Washington D.C., today can still help spread hope and take a stand against hunger. Join us today! And remember to follow all of the happenings at the Gathering on Twitter and Instagram by following the hashatag #BreadRising.

Continue reading "Leaning Into Revival at Bread for the World’s 2014 National Gathering" »

June's Bread for the Preacher: Bringing God's Reconciling Love to the World

'Holy Bible' photo (c) 2009, Steve Snodgrass - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

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

As we come to truly understand that it is possible to end hunger by 2030, this month's texts remind us that we follow a God who truly fights for those who are vulnerable. We are invited to join in that fight — without glorifying war and death — at Pentecost. Jesus sends the Holy Spirit so that we may be bearers of the spirit of forgiveness, love, peace, and justice as we engage the sinful systems in our world. As our eyes are opened to the ways in which humans are seen as disposable in our society we bring God's reconciling love to the world. May you be swept up in the Pentecost spirit in the coming weeks.

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

Facing Goliath: Faithful Advocacy and Food Aid Reform

Tocloban
Because of policy changes allowing flexibility in how we deliver food aid, USAID was able to commit $10 million dollars to be used to purchase food in the Philippines in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan.  (USAID photo)

I have a confession to make: I occasionally have moments of despair as an anti-hunger advocate. Then I go through a few stages that remind me faith has the power to move mountains – or topple giants as the case may be. 

Despair weighed me down when I learned a harmful bill, which cuts international food aid to starving people in deference to shipping companies hungry for profit, passed the House. Three private, foreign-owned shipping companies would largely reap the benefits of a cargo preference provision quietly added to the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2014 (HR 4005). Their profit would come at the expense of U.S. food=aid programs. The bill  now sits in the Senate Commerce Committee for consideration

I’m now hopeful that we can fight this harmful provision, but it took me a little while to get here. If you sometimes feel hopeless in your work to end hunger, don’t worry—it’s normal and necessary. Sometimes we must feel sadness and despair—they are the very things that move us to act. Usually, I experience this in four stages: 

I feel sad and tired.

I recall a scene broadcast on the news after Typhoon Haiyan devastates the Philippines: A distraught teenager wails and beats on the one remaining wall of what was once his family’s home– his lifeless mother lies in the rubble nearby and his father looks at the camera and pleads for help. I cry. The next scene shows international compassion for humanity as helicopters drop food and water to survivors. 

Flexibility on where food can be purchased is a major factor in getting life-saving aid to the Philippines quickly. Reforms in the 2014 farm bill could help up to 800,000 additional people at no additional cost. It is good to see the results of advocacy as lives are saved.

But some want to turn back the clock. Food shipped under cargo-preference law from the United States takes an average of 14 weeks longer to reach people in a crisis. Increasing cargo preference, as stipulated in the Coast Guard bill, would deny an estimated 2 million hungry people access to food aid and reverse improvements made in the farm bill. I wonder how lawmakers could make such a choice: a few shipping companies over 2 million lives.

I feel outraged.

Powerful maritime lobbyist versus a group of Christian advocates seems like a losing battle. However, time and time again, our collective Christian voice wins victories by using gifts of citizenship. The Bible is full of inspirational stories that remind me that faith and “right” is more powerful than money and might. I turn to scripture.

I feel hopeful.

I read 1 Samuel 17 — the story of David and Goliath. The odds of a little guy defeating a giant warrior seem laughable. The soldier’s tools of battle are too heavy, so he is left with a sling and some stones. But David does not go into battle alone and he knows this is the Lord’s fight — David answers a call to act. With a single stone, David topples a giant.

I feel called and ready to act.

There are always giants on Capitol Hill, whether special-interest lobbyists, or lawmakers themselves. Like David picking up the rock as he faces impossible odds against Goliath, anti-hunger advocates can pick up phones, send emails, visit their members of Congress and send a powerful message to the Senate: reject any actions that would increase transportation costs for food aid and prevent hungry people around the world from receiving U.S. food assistance.

We make a difference and we carry with us a sacred call to end hunger. When we live that call out together, giants topple.

Robin Stephenson is Bread for the World's national lead for social media and regional organizer, western hub.

May's Bread for the Preacher: Out of the Tomb and Into 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

After the grand celebration of the resurrection of Jesus on Easter Sunday, we are ready to get down to the business of being the church in the world — of being Christ's body in the world. We see a world that is broken and in need of God's restoring love and grace. The way things are isn't the way they have to be, and guided by God's already-present reign of justice and peace, we have the tools to help us. As followers of Jesus, being church in the world means living as a resurrected people. Renewed and emboldened by the Spirit of Christ, we engage the world around us prayerful, hope-filled, encouraged, inspired, and imaginative about how things can be when infused by God’s saving power.

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

Pray for a Hungry "Stranger"

Woman prays"Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me..."

                                          —Mathew 25:34-35

Immigration is a hunger issue. Our broken immigration system in the United States leaves too many without access to resources they need to live. Poverty and hunger have been major forces driving immigration to this country; for those who live here as undocumented immigrants, their status means a precarious life in the shadows.

Immigration reform is part of the exodus from hunger for which Bread for the World members advocate and pray. Yet, as legislation to reform immigration languishes and the House of Representatives fails to act, frustration on the part of advocates mounts and people continue to suffer. A Christian response requires us to use our voices and advocate for our brothers and sisters both here and abroad, but a faithful response to hunger also includes prayer. 

Today, we join with our partners in the Evangelical Immigration Table, and other people of faith, in praying for our leaders in Congress, the congregations and pastors who care for immigrants and their families, and for the millions of people hurt by an outdated immigration system.

Take a moment during your day, or at any point over the next 24 hours, and pray for those who hunger for reform. Use the prayer below or one of your own choosing. Ask other in your church, campus, or community to join you, and help make this day of prayer a powerful one that moves hearts and minds. If you are a Twitter user, ask others to join you in prayer and action by using the hashtag #Pray4Reform.

All things are possible through Christ who strengthens us.


Prayer for a Hungry "Stranger"

Lord Jesus Christ, Giver of abundant love,
guidance and protection,
our hearts are filled with gratitude.
Your love empowers us to do your will,
to be your hands and feet in this world,
for your purpose.
Your grace enables us to recognize injustice
and to partner in the restoration of brokenness in our
own lives and of unjust systems.
There is hunger and poverty in our world
that displaces our brothers and sisters from their homes and homelands.
Lord Jesus, we seek your shelter and protection.
Migrant workers harvest the food on our tables yet suffer
unsafe labor conditions and empty cupboards.
Lord Jesus, we imagine your harvest
to be rich and plentiful for all people
and that all people are fed and have a place at the table.
The decisions of lawmakers in this nation impact
the flourishing of millions children created in your image.
Lord Jesus, may we witness a change in this nation’s priorities so that
hunger is no longer acceptable.  
May we see the dignity
of every person upheld, especially their right to food.
Lord Jesus, may we be strengthened by your example
to welcome the stranger, love our neighbor and feed the hungry
so that our brothers and sisters everywhere will flourish.

—Krisanne Vaillancourt-Murphy

 

Photo: A woman prays during a worship service in Guatemala. (Joseph Molieri/Bread for the World)

Pope Francis and Obama: When Faith and Government Meet

Pope_francis_president_obama
Pope Francis meets President Barack Obama at the Vatican on Thursday, March 27. (Getty)

By Billy Kangas

For President Obama, leader of the one of the wealthiest nations in the world, and Pope Francis, leader of the Catholic Church, to come together to discuss the need to address poverty and income inequality is historic. But what exactly does last Thursday’s meeting at the Vatican mean for hungry and poor people? Will it help shift Obama’s narrative on income equality from a focus on the struggling middle class to one on the hungry and impoverished in the United States and around the world? Does the fact that the two men were able to set aside any differences in opinion and find common ground in a desire to help the poor hint at a larger sea change?

The meeting raises many questions, but it also underscores the pope’s enormous potential to impact global politics, global leadership, and global priorities—including hunger and poverty. Exactly what does the so-called "Francis factor" contribute? Here are some observations to put Francis in perspective, and give some context to the life and ministry of this cleric, who is changing the world through small acts done with great love.

He's a leader from the developing world

This point is so key to understanding Francis. His voice has continually reminded me to look beyond my own cultural concerns and obsessions to see who the truly marginalized in this world are. As much as disparity and inequality remain significant and heart-wrenching issues in the United States, the inequality that ravages so many U.S. communities is often more acutely felt in the communities of the developing world. It is from these places that Francis emerged; it is in these places that he has spent his life of ministry. He reminds us to take our gaze away from our navels and to look into the pleading eyes of those who suffer under our indifference. 

He brings a different narrative 

Our political system often only gives us two stories to choose from: the narrative from the left, and the narrative from the right. The stories from these two sides can become all-consuming, blotting out all else and creating an environment in which one is judged solely on where they fall on the continuum of conservative to liberal. Francis emerges with a different kind of story—it is not one driven by politics, wealth, or power, but humility, grace, joy, and sacrifice. It cuts us to the heart, and brings a challenge. His message is simple: God's glory; neighbor's good. There is little room for self-aggrandizement in that equation, and I have been convicted time and time again of my own sin and of my need for the transforming Grace of God in my life.

He has a different kind of power

Francis wields a significant amount of power, but it is not the kind of power that we have grown accustomed to in our contemporary world. He does not have the power of the nation-state, he does not have the power of a global corporation, he does not even have the power of a radical revolutionary. His power lies in his ability to remind millions that their allegiance is to the God who demonstrates love in Christ laying down his life. Francis has been a great communicator of that message. He has been an example of what Christ looks like, and that is a power we have rarely had to contend with in this modern age.

He is bringing to bear a tradition

Another reason the “Francis factor” must be taken seriously is that he is more than just a prophet, he is a pope. As a pope, he brings with him a tradition that is deep and rich and beautiful. He does not bring ideas that are his alone, which will flash in the pan of world history and be forgotten, but represents a movement grounded in 2000 years of theology, philosophy, and social teaching, from which countless others have given their lives to demonstrate the radical love of God in Christ. Francis will not be pope forever, but we can be sure he will not be the last to bear this radical call. The message Francis preaches is not his own, and it will continue long after he has gone. It is the message that continues to sustain us.

It remains to be seen exactly how the “Francis factor” might influence the agenda of Obama—and vice versa. But hopefully, at the very least, last week’s meeting signaled to the world the importance of coming together to address issues of hunger and poverty in our world. 

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Living out the mandate to work for God’s glory and neighbor’s good includes ensuring that all are fed. Bread for the World’s 2014 Offering of Letters, “Reforming U.S. Food Aid,” seeks smart forms to U.S. food aid programs—changes that would help feed millions more each year, at no additional cost to U.S. taxpayers. Visit http://www.bread.org/ol to learn more.

Billy Kangas is Bread for the World's Catholic Relations fellow.

April's Bread for the Preacher: "Resurrection and Restoration"

Praying, prayer, Lent, lenten prayersDid 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

The end of Lent and Holy Week usher in the spring season of rebirth in nature around us. Many of us have trudged through harsh winter weather, but now we see glimpses of new buds on trees and the tips of leaves poking through the cold ground. In light of Christ’s resurrection, the budding flowers of spring remind us of a similar budding within us to be agents of transformation and restoration in a suffering world.

Fasting with Jesus in Lent, celebrating his triumphant entrance on Palm Sunday, remembering his intimate last supper on Maundy Thursday, and mourning his passion and death on Good Friday, we look for signs of new life. We keep a spirit of hope in the promise of resurrection, pondering what it means in Easter to, as Wendell Berry says, "practice resurrection." Reflecting upon Lent, one question before us may be For what purpose has this new ground been tilled?

As we find renewed life in the Risen Christ this Easter, may we discover a renewed commitment to be restorers in our world, especially to end the scourge of hunger.

Rev. Nancy Neal is Bread for the World's associate for denominational women's organization relations.

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