121 posts categorized "Faith"
By Jennifer Gonzalez
Faith has always played a strong role in the life of Kelvin Beachum Jr., an offensive lineman with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
It has guided many of his personal and professional decisions. And now that strong faith has led him straight to Bread for the World.
Beachum is partnering with Bread to ensure an end to hunger in the United States and around the world. The partnership was announced over the weekend during Beachum’s annual football camp for children in his hometown of Mexia, Texas.
Texas is the third hungriest state in the country, where one in four children lives in poverty. Nationally, over 16 million American children or 1 in 5 don’t always know where their next meal is coming from.
Beachum understands the issue of hunger firsthand. “As a child, my family and I bounced around from WIC, free and reduced lunches, and some food stamp assistance when we qualified. There were times when we had enough, but there were also times that we needed help.”
He said he finds it unacceptable that in the United States, one of the world’s most blessed countries, there are children who go hungry every night.
The grandson of a pastor, and a son of a minister, Beachum believes that God has given him many talents, on and off the field. He likens his current work around child nutrition for the NFL and the work he plans to do with Bread as ministry.
He’s doing God’s work in various ways: through his children’s sports camp, visits to schools, and now lobbying Congress with Bread.
“There is a pastor in Pittsburgh that says something I really love: ‘Taking care of family is one block, one family at a time.’ At the end of the day, that is what I’d like to do from a hunger standpoint – take care of one community, one family, one state, and one nation at a time. That is what it boils down to.”
Beachum recently visited Bread’s offices in Washington, D.C., to learn more about the issue of hunger and how we accomplish our work. He also got an opportunity to visit Capitol Hill and speak with a handful of members of Congress about the importance of child nutrition.
This year’s Offering of Letters is focused on ensuring that Congress reauthorizes the legislation that funds child nutrition programs. The legislation is set to expire this fall.
“We are delighted to welcome Kelvin into our campaign to write hunger into history. His passion for promoting anti-hunger programs rooted in his deep faith is a great example of what constitutes a hunger champion,” said Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World.
The expectation is that Beachum, an NFL player with many Twitter followers, will offer a different voice at Bread - one that especially entices a younger demographic to join our cause.
At Bread, our work intersects with poverty, mass incarceration, immigration, climate change, and among other issues. Beachum acknowledged that he doesn’t know everything about hunger and is excited about the possibility of learning more and helping Bread end hunger in the United States and abroad.
“God is stretching me to do things I have never done before, like advocate for hungry children,” Beachum said. “It truly takes a team to make that dream work. It takes a team from all different walks of life, all different upbringings, backgrounds, circumstance, to all to come together and help end hunger.”
Jennifer Gonzalez is the associate online editor at Bread for the World.
Editor's note: Bread for the World has launched a Pray to End Hunger campaign. Please commit to pray with us to end hunger.
By Bread Staff
Food matters to children. In fact, it’s more critical to them than to adults. Proper nutrition in a child’s earliest years is essential for well-being as he or she grows. Well-fed children are healthier, have fewer behavioral problems, and learn more easily. Yet nearly 16 million children in the United States–one in five–live in households that struggle to put food on the table.
We know intuitively that children need our collective protection. Jesus told us to embrace children, “for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs” (Matthew 19:14). In this season of Easter, let’s pray for the children of the world as well as those who care for them.
Join us as we pray for:
- Children around the world, that they would have the food they need for healthy development.
- Those who care for children, that they would have access to the resources necessary to provide for those under their care.
- Our leaders, that they would support children and their caregivers in the decisions that they make for this country.
God’s heart is given to all, with a special place for our children. We must work together for a world in which everyone has enough food. Thanks for taking the time to pray for children and those who care for them.
When you commit to joining in praying for an end to hunger, we will email you twice a month with specific prayer requests and sample prayers. To learn more about how you can get involved with prayer at Bread, please go here.
Watch a high-level panel featuring prominent faith-based organizations, religious leaders, and World Bank President Jim Yong Kim discuss the role of faith in combating poverty. April 15, 2015, World Bank Headquarters, Washington, D.C.
By Robin Stephenson
Pope Francis called "poverty a scandal," and Gandhi said, "We must be the change we want to see in the world." Poverty is complex but solvable if enough of us act in unison. The question is: Do we have the faith to end poverty?
For the first time in history, a broad coalition of diverse religious leaders and faith-based organizations, including Bread for the World, believes we do and that the moment to act is now.
Over 30 religious leaders and groups are joining the World Bank to end the scandal of extreme poverty and be the force of change. In February, the coalition released a statement titled, Ending Extreme Poverty: A Moral and Spiritual Imperative.
Every faith views hunger and poverty as a moral problem. Leaders from these diverse religious traditions believe we can end extreme poverty by 2030. To do so, political leaders must implement evidence-based solutions. These religious leaders believe that moral consensus will help make it happen.
Recent history has shown it is possible to make dramatic progress against poverty when political leaders choose to make it a priority. Since 1990, the number of people living in extreme poverty or on $1.25 a day has been halved to less than one billion. Imagine the power of faith to accelerate that progress.
On a panel of faith leaders at World Bank headquarters in Washington, D.C., yesterday, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim talked about why the World Bank is teaming up with faith leaders to combat extreme poverty.
“If the 188 member countries of the World Bank can agree that our mission going forward is to end extreme poverty,” said Kim, “then it really is important for us to make common cause with religious institutions that have been saying this for millennia."
Evidence has shown us what works. To end extreme poverty, economic growth must directly impact the people we want to pull people out of poverty. To do so, Kim said we must concentrate on a three-pronged approach: develop strategies that grow economies, invest in people, and create social-protection programs that keep people from falling back into poverty.
Bread has been influential in forging relationships between faith leaders and the World Bank because we know the power of faith. In 40 years of faith-based, anti-hunger advocacy, we have seen how moral consensus can change the hearts and minds of decision-makers in Washington, D.C. Your advocacy was critical in pushing the U.S. government to act on the Millennium Development Goals that helped cut extreme poverty in half.
As religious leaders around the world stand in this historical moment and address the scandal of poverty, faithful advocates must also be ready to act and be the change.
Robin Stephenson is the national lead for social media and a senior regional organizer at Bread for the World.
By Bread Staff
The figures are in the billions, but the message is simple. In the last 25 years, the number of people living in extreme poverty has fallen from nearly 2 billion people to fewer than 1 billion people worldwide. People in extreme poverty live on less than $1.25 a day.
“Some say it’s impossible to end poverty – especially in just 15 years. But we know it’s possible,” said Jim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank, in a speech this week to kick off the organization's spring meeting.
Members of Bread for the World and our faith partners have known all along that we can end extreme poverty and hunger. The unprecedented progress that the world is making against hunger and poverty is an example of our loving God transforming our world (#faith2endpoverty).
We are the first generation in human history with the knowledge and capabilities needed to end poverty. “Ending extreme poverty is no longer a dream,” Kim said.
During his speech, Kim presented varying pictures of poverty in the world, but one stands out: “Poverty is having to put your children to bed without food.”
Our 2015 Offering of Letters: Feed Our Children is one of the key tools to end hunger and poverty in the United States. We must ensure that our national child nutrition programs are fully funded. If you have not yet done so, tell your members of Congress that it must be so.
By Jared Noetzel
I don't work at Bread for the World because of its public policy or advocacy mission. Policy matters, and advocacy shapes policy, but in the end that's not what I'm all about. I work at Bread because of my commitment to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, because through his death and resurrection we have the opportunity to participate in the reconciliation of the world to God. Part of that reconciliation extends to the ways we choose to order our society. In other words, it extends to politics. The problem is, I forget that order of things too easily.
We're nearing the finale of one of my favorite times of the church year. In Lent, we're called to remember our dependence on God through contrition and repentance. By prayer, fasting, and giving we recognize that God has ultimate control over our lives. Through the adoption of new disciplines, we tangibly remind ourselves to both submit to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and remember who gave us our salvation. That's how we don't forget to love our neighbors and care for people who are marginalized. That's how we don't forget to love our enemies, even when they target people who are hungry.
Advocacy and politics can be toxic to our souls. We can easily get caught up in the short-term wins and "gotcha" moments. The season of Lent calls us as followers of Christ to a time set apart to dig into our own failures and seek God's grace and mercy.
The disciplines of Lent steel us against the corroding influences of the sometimes brutal political world. As James 1:27 puts it: "Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world." At Bread for the World, we care a lot about orphans and widows — and all others on the margins of society. We can't and we won't stop advocating with them — ever.
But we must not forget the other part of James' warning. Lent opens a space for us to take stock of how the world has corrupted us, to ask for mercy, and then seek restoration.
The point of Lent isn't to remain in an introspective posture. Rather, it's about preparation and being ready for Christ's resurrection. As we look forward to celebrating Easter, take time to ask God to ferret out the places the world has corrupted you. Then, turn your heart to Christ, and get ready to celebrate his resurrection and the power of reconciliation.
As we engage our hearts and minds with the story of God's redemptive work in the world, we declare that ultimate authority lies with God. That's why, at Bread for the World, we value prayer right alongside activism (see Let Us Pray to End Hunger).
In the work of advocacy, we can forget to acknowledge that all authority, including the authority to govern, stems from God. Prayer helps us stay grounded in God's love and undergirds all of our advocacy efforts.
The work of advocacy doesn't stop because of Lent, but Lent does make us better advocates. We write, call, and meet with elected officials not because good policy is an end in and of itself. We do these things because God has called us to love all the people made in God's image. Lent helps us remember that.
Jared Noetzel is a project coordinator at Bread for the World's church relations department.
Photo: A Ugandan family shares a meal together. Kendra Rinas for Bread for the World.
In February, I found myself in an unlikely place for a girl raised in the Midwest. As I made my way through the packed Rubaga Cathedral in Kampala, Uganda, I noticed a women breast-feeding her baby. As a Bread for the World policy analyst specializing in international food security and nutrition issues, I was heartened to see her engaging in such a vital health and nutrition practice, beneficial to both mom and baby alike.
Finding an open seat next to a father and son, I leaned forward and kneeled. Bowing my head and closing my eyes, I began to pray. My heart was light that morning — so joyful, and excited for the opportunity I had just received. In my work for Bread in Washington, D.C., I advocate in support of top-line funding levels and programs for agriculture and development, but I rarely observe implementation of these programs on the ground. Now was my chance, and I was about to embark on a 15-day trip through Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania.
My prayer to God that morning was a simple one. I asked to be attentive and open to the East Africans I would soon meet so that I could share their stories with members of Congress, administration officials, Bread staff, and especially our committed Bread members. What I experienced in the days ahead left me in awe as I witnessed the resolve and commitment of so many East Africans in improving their own lives and transforming the future for their children. These are aspirations I believe people of all backgrounds, nationalities, and creeds share.
As I learned about women's cooperatives and farmers' access to markets, new agriculture technologies from crop rotation to soil-fertility management to land-tenure rights, I began to understand how vital programs like Feed the Future are in not only contributing to a more food-secure world, but also in transforming the lives of each of the farmers I met. Feed the Future is the U.S. government's global hunger and food-security initiative.
Augustino was one such farmer in Tanzania. As he greeted me, I was immediately drawn to the words printed on the T-shirt he was wearing. It read, “Future of Africa.” In my mind I thought never has a truer statement been made, because Augustino, along with his wife and their children, truly do represent the promising future of their country and the continent on which they live.
Now well-resourced with training they received from the agriculture cooperative in which they belong, Augustino and his wife have learned to produce higher-quality and larger yields of tomatoes. They have also recently expanded into cultivating rice, and they have aspirations to begin a trout fishery soon as well.
With their increased income, they can now afford to pay their children's school fees, buy more nutritious food to supplement their children's diets, and make other investments into their land.
What dawned on me was that with just a little outside support, guidance, and training, Augustino's family did the rest. It's their focused, hard work that tills the soil, it's their bodies that carry heavy jugs of water to irrigate, and it's their personal resolve to harvest increased and higher-quality crops that ultimately is moving them from subsistence farmers to a mother and father who are ensuring their children's lives are filled with opportunity and upward mobility to a degree and depth their families have never known.
Not surprisingly, my experience in East Africa reaffirmed my strong belief in the merits of programs like Feed the Future and the importance of ensuring Congress passes a law this year to authorize and make this a permanent program. But, it also did something else even more profound.
Through my conversations with farmers and personal reflection and prayer, I found myself drawn even closer to our loving God and God's people.
God is truly moving in our time, in your life and mine, and in the lives of Augustino and his family in Tanzania — and in others' lives in Africa and our entire world. And I am hopeful that with further discernment, prayer, and grace, we will continue our own sacred advocacy on Capitol Hill, and most importantly be drawn closer into relationship with our loving God and God's people.
Beth Ann Saracco is the international policy analyst at Bread for the World.
Photo: Augustino, a farmer in Tanzania, is building a better future for his family and his continent by growing food in better ways. Beth Ann Saracco/Bread for the World.
Editor's note: Bread Blog is running a year-long series exploring passages from The Poverty & Justice Bible published by the American Bible Society (Contemporary English Version). The intent is a theological exploration at the intersection of social justice and religion. The blog posts will be written by members of the church relations staff at Bread for the World.
"The Lord has told us what is right and what God demands: See that justice is done, let mercy be your first concern, and humbly obey your God." (Micah 6:8)
By Diane Ford Dessables
Last month, while attending Bread for the World’s race summit in Orlando Fla., a middle-aged white pastor and I were in conversation with each other. I am a middle-aged African-American woman. We sought to understand each other and be evermore serious about bringing Good News to a nation that is still coming to grips with its “original” sin – racism. We agreed that we needed to get serious about taking up the Cross. If we are to make a commitment to follow Jesus anew, we need to do it with our eyes wide open.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, “The U.S. is projected to become a majority-minority nation for the first time in 2043,” with minorities projected to be 57 percent of the population in 2060. In response, fear and restrictive laws are creeping back into our culture and our politics — often without explicit racial bias. However, structural inequities are becoming more rigid, and systemic biases harder to eradicate. As a result, new coalitions are forming and old ones are partnering with new allies. Together, they are ministering with and on behalf of underserved societies. That is the reason the pastor and I were Spirit-led to be in each other’s company.
That day, at the summit, I was curious to know how this pastor could begin to come to terms with the discomfort that loss of power, control, and privilege often produces. In response, he said, “I fear not knowing what I will become once I no longer have easy access to them.”
As I reflected on his words, I became keenly aware of two things: I am not responsible for addressing his fear; only he can do that through God’s love and grace. It is, however, my responsibility never to succumb to any temptation to use power, control or privilege as weapons to personally or systemically oppress another human being.
I responded, “I fear becoming what I abhor. I pray to God I’m spared from subjecting that on anyone else.”
Today, we are called to nurture a more complete relationship with God and a closer walk with Jesus; to commit to supporting and loving one another into a new way of being; to encourage each other’s prophetic voices and reach out together to heal the divides by which our communities are coming undone.
The church today must not only reflect on how Jesus’ church can move beyond charity to justice, but we must also move beyond issues of socio-political justice, and contemplate the reason for and substance of our spiritual life. Today we must prepare together for the consequences of transcending our national spiritual status quo. It is out of this kind of movement that we will start to understand what Jesus meant when he said, “Anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these…”
We can’t end hunger and poverty without being in deepened relationship with each other. We must allow God’s promise to love us and help guide us anew to justice, and mercy in our world.
Diane Ford Dessables is senior associate for denominational relations at Bread for the World.
By Dan DeBevoise
I’ve been in conversation for a while with a friend and community organizer about the possibility of gathering people from our local community to talk about race relations. We talked about having honest, intimate conversations. We talked about sharing in the context of our faith.
I had no idea how important, inspiring, and transformational such an event would be until we actually did it. I thank God that Bread for the World and Faith in Florida provided the opportunity by sponsoring the Symposium on Faith and Race in Orlando, Fla., earlier this month.
Sometimes it seems that the most significant leap is the one from talking to taking action. Bread and Faith in Florida made it possible for us to take that big, sometimes intimidating step.
Rev. Alvin Herring, deputy director for Faith and Formation at PICO National Network, opened the event by teaching two Zulu phrases: a greeting, “Sawu Bona,” which means “I see you,” and the response, “Sikhona,” which means, “I am here.” This set the tone for our work together. We learned anew the power and affirmation of deeply acknowledging the presence of another person’s full humanity – “I see you.” And we were asked to experience the freedom of being present in the fullness of our humanity – “I am here.”
We did the risky work of sitting down with another person different from ourselves and asking, “Can I share a story of something important that happened to me that I want you to know?” And we did the hard work of listening to one another in ways that opened us to the truth of whom they are and whom we are.
We sought the truth about our communities and society. We listened to panelists describe the circumstances and challenges they face every day: youth, single women, people of color, people who know poverty and have struggled with hunger and feeding their families.
Throughout the event, we listened to each other, we pushed each other, we embraced each other, we encouraged each other, we challenged each other, and we walked with each other (literally on a march in downtown Orlando,) to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Selma march.
Then, to conclude, Rev. Dr. James Forbes led us in worship. Forbes shared the powerful proclamation that God is in the business of erasing the boundaries and barriers that we set up to protect ourselves from each other. We were given in worship the gift of unity that comes by the love of God for all people: praising, praying, singing, proclaiming God’s word of reconciliation and justice. We were in that moment a part of the beloved community.
In the big picture, it may look like a small step, but for me, it was a big step. And definitely a step in the right direction.
Dan DeBevoise is a co-pastor at Park Lake Presbyterian Church in Orlando, Fla.
By Krisanne Vaillancourt Murphy
Social justice-minded advocates who are looking for inspiration will find it in a new book—Possible: A Blueprint for Changing the World. Its author is Stephan Bauman, president of World Relief, an international relief and development partner of Bread for the World.
Bauman, who is also on Bread’s board of directors, poured his vast personal and professional experience rebuilding marginalized communities at home and abroad into this powerful text. Bauman wrote Possible to be hopeful and helpful for anyone engaged in making the world a better place.
And hope-filled and helpful it is. “Possible is a personal call to reconsider what it means to sustainably impact our neighborhoods, villages and cities. It’s for anyone who dares to believe change is possible, from artists to engineers to storytellers and students to moms and musicians,” Bauman says.
The core message of Possible should ring true for the hundreds of thousands of Bread advocates and leaders who have been organizing their churches to write letters to Congress, praying to end hunger, drafting op-ed pieces for local papers, and keeping our nation’s decision makers accountable to ending hunger and poverty.
One of my favorite chapters in the book is titled “The Making of Heroes.” In it, Bauman talks about how ordinary people with a willingness to listen to others, with simple humility, authenticity, and belief in trusted relationships can undergird the transformative actions that actually change the world. The book also emphasizes the need for asset mapping in all areas of our lives. This enables us to employ the skills and resources we possess in partnership with God, who is already at work in the world.
As the executive director of The Justice Conference (TJC), Bauman is creating a space where partnerships with God can manifest. The social-justice conference, held in Chicago this year, brings together world-class speakers and artists to catalyze emerging works of justice around the world. Thousands of Christian activists will gather at the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago June 5 and 6.
Over the last four years, Bread has worked closely with TJC, and this year we will lead the pre-conference advocacy track on global poverty. Register for The Justice Conference, and join Bread for the pre-conference. We will have an intensive dialogue on global poverty – exploring what is possible when we partner with God and answer the call to change the world.
Krisanne Vaillancourt Murphy manages evangelical relations in Bread for the World’s church relations department.
By Bread Staff
In honor of Women’s History Month and International Woman’s Day, Bread Blog, Institute Notes, and Bread for the World’s social media platforms will be celebrating the ingenious, fortitude, and spirit of women during the month of March.
Women like Dorothy Day have been at the forefront in the fight to end hunger. Like Bread for the World members, Day grounded her work in prayer and scripture and felt called to care for the most vulnerable in our society. Day’s example reminds us that women of faith are helpers and advocates and act as God’s hands in this broken world.
Women are also the primary agents the world relies on to fight hunger. From the mother in Mississippi who struggles to work full-time at minimum wage and still feed her children to the subsistence farmer in Kenya who prays she can sell enough of her produce at market to make it through the dry season, women feed and nourish the world. Lessons from anti-hunger programs carried out in the past decade have made it clear: women’s empowerment is key to ending hunger worldwide.
On March 8, thousand of events will be held throughout the world as part of annual International Women’s Day observances. The theme of this year’s celebration is “Make it Happen” for greater awareness of women’s equality.
Women’s equality is also the subject of the 2015 Hunger Report, When Women Flourish…We Can End Hunger. The report looks at discrimination as a cause of persistent hunger and makes policy and program recommendations in order to empower women both in the United States and around the world. Increasing women’s earning potential by boosting bargaining power, reducing gender inequality in unpaid work, increasing women’s political representation, and eliminating the wage gap between male and female labor directly contributes to ending hunger.
For more information on the integral role women play in ending hunger and poverty, make sure to read When Women Flourish…We Can End Hunger and also visit Bread Blog.
Get updates on issues and actions to take on behalf of hungry people.