Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger
 

74 posts categorized "Faith"

March's Bread for the Preacher: Looking to Lent

Mountain_in_guatemala

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

In March, we round out the season of Epiphany with Transfiguration Sunday, which grounds Jesus in the long tradition of Moses and the Elijah, who represent the law and the prophets. From there, we turn our attention inward, asking the questions Who are we? and Whose are we? Many of our churches' members will give up sweets or caffeine during this season. Or perhaps they will add some kind of healthy habit to their daily routine. Our challenge is to help them dig deeper to recognize our corporate identity inaugurated in the "new Adam," to remember that God often favors the outsider and the excluded, and to take risks on the road to justice.

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

David Beckmann: Our Loving God is Moving History

More than 30 years ago, Bread for the World president David Beckmann lived and worked in Bangladesh, and saw extreme poverty while in the country. A few years ago, he and his wife went back for a visit, traveling to the northwest region where they once lived, and saw something amazing.

"What was best about this experience was that although people are still extremely poor, they are dramatically less poor than they were 30 years ago," Beckmann said during a talk at the Saint Thomas More Catholic Chapel and Center at Yale University on Feb. 9. "The changes have been spectacular."

Beckmann spoke about improvements to infrastructure, such as new roads and buildings, as well as how people's lives have changed—he saw children that looked better nourished, and met women who were taking advantage of new literacy education and microcredit programs. And these changes aren't unique to the country he once called home. "This same thing has happened in hundreds of thousands of communities in the world," he said. "The World Bank judges that the number of people in the world in extreme poverty has been cut in half in the last 30 years."

At the Saint More Catholic Chapel and Center to help celebrate the 30th anniversary of its soup kitchen, Beckmann spread the message that the dramatic progress that has been made in alleviating extreme hunger and poverty is evidence that ending hunger is within reach.

"Those of us who believe in God and can read about and understand this huge change in the world, I think we have to understand this as our loving God moving history," he said. "I've come to see this as a great exodus in our own time; this is God answering prayers on a huge scale. And I think our loving God is asking us to get with the program. Because in our time, it is clearly possible to make much, much more progress—probably to virtually end extreme poverty and hunger within a couple decades."

Beckmann also talked about what it will take to accomplish this—namely, building the political will to move our leaders and "change big systems in ways that will move us toward the end of hunger in our country and around the world."

By connecting with members of Congress—through letter writing and participating in Offerings of Letters, in-person visits, and writing letters to the editor, people learn “that we have power, we can change things," Beckmann said. "Learn how you can be an active citizen and make the world more like how you think God wants it to be."

Watch the full video of the tlak above, and then learn more about conducting an Offering of Letters, and what you can do to help move history.

February's Bread for the Preacher: The 'Why' and 'How' of Justice Work


A woman prays during church service in rural Xonca, Guatemala (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

In this season of new year's resolutions and new starts, we celebrate that Congress just last week passed a budget without shuttering the government. Perhaps we are seeing small cracks in the walls that divide us politically. Our pleas and prayers for an end to the political brinkmanship are making a difference.

The lectionary passages for this month address the Why? and the How? of doing justice work. The texts urge us toward justice and righteousness, not only in our personal devotions, but also in our public lives. In some instances, we will challenge our communities to ground their justice work in a devotional life. And in other cases, we will challenge our communities to extend their personal devotions into the world to act for justice.

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

God Calls Us to be Advocates for Life

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(Left to right) Amanda Wojcinski, Wynn Horton, Moeun Sun, Aminata Kanu, Rebecca Lang, and Robert Mauger, students at Houghton College in upstate New York, navigate Capitol Hill during Lobby Day on June 11, 2013. The students met with their senators and representative and urged them to preserve funding for food assistance in the farm bill (Eric Bond).

By Shirley A. Mullen

It is not difficult to attract Christian college students to advocacy. They are on the lookout for causes to believe in. Most of them are idealists. They believe the solutions just can’t be all that complicated.

For some, advocacy is like a onetime cross-cultural experience, which takes them temporarily into an exotic world of the "other" but that leaves them virtually unchanged. They know it is a good thing to do, but they do not intend to be an advocate.

For some, advocacy is another way of "coming of age." It is a way of demarcating themselves from their own history, of making a statement in their own voice, apart from their parents' faith or political beliefs. But, in the end, it is all about them and not about those for whom they are speaking.

For some, advocacy is a way of exerting their gifts of persuasion and organization to come out on top. Yes, it is all for a good cause. But the main thing is the winning. It is all about being "right" and proving that to the rest of the world.

Describing these forms of advocacy in no way discounts their potential for good. Sometimes things turn out much better than we planned for or expected. Imperfect people can be agents in accomplishing very good things in the world. More often than not, however, our efforts do not yield what we had hoped, at least not in the short run. Far too often, well-intentioned and hardworking people do not see the results commensurate with their efforts.

God calls us to be advocates for life — not for a season. As believers, we are to be there for the "stranger" (Deuteronomy 15), for the "widow and orphan" (James), for those who "are in prison, naked, and hungry" (Matthew 25:35). The challenge for college students, and for each of us, is to allow advocacy to become a way of life and not a one-time experience that inoculates us against a lifetime of truly seeing the needs speaking faithfully for those who cannot speak for themselves.

Advocacy is tiring work. Results are not immediate. The work is never done. Even with occasional dramatic victories, changing the law is a long way from changing culture or changing hearts.

Sustained faithfulness in advocacy must be grounded in a larger life of discipline, humility, and Christian hope if it is to endure for the long haul. We are sometimes called to invest our lives in causes that seem to go nowhere, because it is the right thing to do, because the tapestry of history is longer in the making than our short lives, and because we know that nothing is wasted in God's economy.

God offers to work through us, finite and broken as we are, in his redemptive plans and purposes in this world.

On-faithShirley A. Mullen is president of Houghton College, a liberal arts and sciences institution in western New York associated with The Wesleyan Church.

 

 

 

 

Praying for Change and Being Changed

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Those in Washington, D.C., gathered in the Capitol building on Dec. 10 to participate in the wave of prayer. Three members of Congress attended the brief prayer service, even though the federal government was shut down due to a snowstorm that day (Joseph Molieri/Bread for the World).

Hundreds of thousands of Christians in the United States – and many more throughout the world – prayed for an end to hunger on Dec. 10 as part of an international "wave of prayer" led by Bread for the World and other organizations fighting hunger.

"We are in front of a global scandal of around one billion people…one billion people who still suffer from hunger today. We cannot look the other way and pretend that this does not exist. The food available in the world is enough to feed everyone," said Pope Francis in a video that the Vatican released on the eve of the day of prayer.

The day of prayer came at a critical time, with Congress considering deeper cuts to SNAP (formerly food stamps), the most successful anti-hunger program in the United States. Cuts that took effect on Nov. 1 are already taking away approximately 10 million meals a day that would have fed working poor Americans and families struggling to lift themselves out of the recession. This loss is more than all the food charity that churches and food banks provide.

"We prayed to God for the end of hunger, which is clearly possible in our time. We asked God to guide Congress and to deepen our own commitment," said Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World.

"The global wave of prayer changed my own prayer life, and I hope that many Bread for the World members will continue to pray on an ongoing basis for the end of hunger," continued Beckmann. "I have found it helpful to ask for the end of hunger every time I say, 'Give us this day our daily bread.'"

Bread heard about Pope Francis’ plans to encourage a global wave of prayer to end hunger from some of Bread’s board members with ties to Catholic leaders in the United States and the Vatican. After consulting with Catholic Relief Services, Catholic Charities, and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Bread reached out to other Christian and interfaith leaders, encouraging them to involve their members in the day of prayer.

At least 17 religious denominations and organizations urged their members to engage in prayer on Dec. 10. This included the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Salvation Army, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), American Jewish World Service, Willow Creek Church, the Islamic Society of North America, the Salvation Army, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, American Baptist Churches, and the National Association of Evangelicals.

Despite a snowstorm that closed federal government offices in the Washington, D.C., area on Dec. 10, Bread and its partners in the Circle of Protection came together in a brief prayer service in the Capitol. Three members of Congress participated.

Although it is not known how many people around the world prayed that day for an end to hunger, the event garnered nearly 159 million media impressions in the U.S. articles that appeared in the Huffington Post, the Washington Post, The Hill, Catholic News Service, and Reuters.

In addition, 7,222 Christians sent emails to their members of Congress asking them to protect funding for hungry and poor people.

"We must empower the poor to shape their own destinies. We need the voice and moral force that Pope Francis – and leaders from all the world's faiths – can provide," wrote Dr. Jim Yong Kim in a blog post after Bread reached out to him for the event. "We need all of you. Together, we can build a global movement to end poverty."

The Dec. 10 prayer wave was the launching event of the "One Human Family, Food for All" campaign of Caritas Internationalis, a confederation of 164 Roman Catholic charities working in 200 countries. The 15-month campaign focuses on the right to food, with an advocacy goal of having the United Nations call a special session on the topic. 

[This article originally appeared in the January edition of the Bread for the World newsletter.]

Join Pope Francis in Prayer Today at Noon

Woman-prayingBy David Beckmann

The day has come! A multitude of Catholics rallied by Caritas Internationalis and millions of other Christians and people of other faiths around the world are raising their voices in a "wave of prayer" today at noon (local time in every time zone) to end hunger.

Pope Francis has released a message in support of this worldwide effort. We hope his words will inspire you to join this prayer wave!

Would you join us today at noon? Pray individually or ask others to join you.

Today a clear and loud message of ending hunger in our time will rise to God. Hopefully it will also touch the hearts of our nation’s leaders in Congress when they are finalizing — at this very moment — a decision on the farm bill and harmful cuts to nutrition programs. At this critical time, they need to hear from you.

After you pray, please take action and call (800-326-4941) or email your members of Congress. Tell them not to cut SNAP (formerly food stamps), but to take actions that will help end hunger in our country and around the world.

If you need a prayer for this occasion, consider the prayers — from various Christian traditions — we have assembled at www.bread.org/prayerwave.

Together in prayer we can change the world.

David Beckmann is president of Bread for the World.

WATCH: Pope Francis' Message for Dec. 10 Prayer Wave

Today, Pope Francis issued a video message in support of the Dec. 10 "wave of prayer" to end global hunger.

Caritas Internationalis is calling on people around the world to pray tomorrow, at noon local time. This prayer wave across time zones will mark the beginning of a campaign for Roman Catholic-related charities, called "One Human Family, Food for All." In his video, Pope Francis gave his the campaign his blessing and said that people across the globe must come together to end the scourge of hunger. 

“I invite all the institutions of the world, the church, each of us, as one single human family, to give a voice to all those who suffer silently from hunger, so that this voice becomes a road which can shake the world," the pope says in the video.

Members of the Circle of Protection, and other faith leaders, will participate in the prayer wave tomorrow by holding a prayer service at the U.S. Capitol (Room H-137) at 12 noon ET.  For those outside of the Washington, D.C.-area, join other Christians and people of other faiths by taking a moment to pray tomorrow at noon, your local time. Visit bread.org/prayerwave for more information and prayer resources.

Praying into 2014

Mountain_in_guatemala

By Rev. David Beckmann

I invite you to join Bread for the World and our partners in the Circle of Protection in supporting Caritas Internationalis’ new campaign to end hunger, which is endorsed by Pope Francis. They are calling for people to pray at noon on Dec. 10 in each time zone, starting in Samoa and proceeding west in a “wave of prayer” as the day goes on.

Here in Washington D.C., we will gather to pray inside the U.S. Capitol (Room H-137). We have invited members of Congress and our partners in the Circle of Protection to join us in this prayer event. I ask you pray with us at noon in your time zone to end hunger. You can pray in whatever faith tradition you have, or chose from one of the prayers we have provided online at www.bread.org/prayerwave.

This wave of prayer comes at a critical time when there will most likely be a vote on the fiscal year 2014 budget, the farm bill, and possible additional cuts to SNAP (formerly food stamps). The House of Representatives will recess for the holidays on Dec. 13, while the Senate recesses on Dec. 20.

As we pray for an end to hunger, we also give thanks for the victories we have achieved in a year when Congress is so polarized that it resulted in a government shutdown.

Together with our partners, we have maintained a circle of protection around programs vital to hungry and poor people. Despite the continuing push to cut federal funds for poor people, our last analysis indicates these cuts amount to only a small fraction of $2.5 trillion in cuts the House of Representatives has been pushing  in the last two and a half years. (We will have a full estimate by the end of this Congress.)

No matter what the actual amount is, we could not have done this without your support and advocacy and the active participation of our partners in the Circle of Protection (www.circleofprotection.us). The Circle represents 65 heads of denominations, relief and development agencies, and other Christian organizations, plus more than 5,000 other pastors and church workers. It includes our brethren at Catholic Charities USA, Catholic Relief Services, and the United States of Conference of Catholic Bishops who have been supportive of our desire to join them in the Dec. 10 wave of prayer to end hunger.   

We also give thanks this Advent that hunger and poverty is back on President Barack Obama’s radar — thanks in part to the petitions you sent him. Earlier this week, he delivered a major address on providing more opportunity for low-income and struggling Americans.

The program of action that President Obama outlined in the speech is consistent with our recommendations in the 2014 Hunger ReportEnding Hunger in America (www.hungerreport.org). However, we reminded him that low-income Americans cannot climb the ladder of opportunity that he is promoting if one of the critical parts of the safety net that undergirds the ladder – SNAP – is in shreds.

During this Advent, we also give thanks for the continuing exodus from hunger globally, with the numbers down to 842 million people experiencing chronic hunger. According to the United Nations, that is 1 in 8 people globally.

This achievement is, in part, due to our government’s leadership of international efforts to strengthen agricultural investments in poor countries and ensuring better nutrition for mothers and children.

Your advocacy helped convince our government to pledge $10 billion through fiscal year 2014 toward eliminating malnutrition among women and children in the 1,000 days between a woman’s pregnancy and her child’s second birthday — and it promised to continue funding nutrition programs at this level beyond 2014.

This Advent, we also give thanks for the opportunities and challenges that God has given us in 2014. We look forward to implementing our 2014-2016 plan, the first in a series of plans to implement our long-term vision and plan. This includes celebrating our achievements in the last 40 years at our annual National Gathering( June 9 and 10, 2014 at the Georgetown University Hotel and Conference Center in Washington, D.C.) and launching our 2014 Offering of Letters, focused on reforming U.S. food aid.

Lastly, during this Advent we give thanks to God for you — for your persistent advocacy, your steadfast support, and your unwavering faith that we can end hunger. Merry Christmas! Feliz Navidad!

Rev. David Beckmann is president of Bread for the World.

Photo: Night sets over Antigua Guatemala at the Cerro de la Cruz (Hill of the Cross).

Fostering a Culture of Solidarity to End Hunger

Woman_in_Sudan_prayingBy Allie Gardner

On Oct. 16, in observance of World Food Day, Pope Francis sent a message to the director general of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), urging the FAO and the people of the world to recognize the “scandal” that is world hunger. “Hunger and malnutrition can never be considered a normal occurrence that we should become used to, as if it were part of the system,” Pope Francis wrote in his message.

The Pope cited a global culture of consumerism and waste as contributing to the “globalization of indifference that is slowly making us get used to the suffering of others as though it were a normal thing," and asked that we counteract this by educating ourselves in solidarity and humanity. "To build a society that is truly human means to always put the person and his/her dignity at the center," he wrote.

Tomorrow, Dec. 10, Bread for the World is joining Pope Francis in supporting a global "prayer wave" to end hunger. Organized by Caritas Internationalis, this wave of prayer is being supported by hundreds of Christian organizations across the globe. In Washington D.C., Bread for the World , and other faith leaders from the Circle of Protection will lead a prayer service on the East Lawn of the U.S. Capitol at noon. Please take a moment tomorrow, at noon in your time zone, to pray — individually, in a small group, or at your church.

This wave of prayer comes at a particularly critical time in our country. Congress is finalizing a  farm bill and cuts to nutrition programs that will impact millions of families that struggle to put food on the table. After you pray tomorrow, we ask that you call (800-826-3688) or email your members of Congress and ask them to vote against cuts to SNAP (food stamps) and take actions that will help end hunger in our country and around the world. Help us fight indifference toward suffering in the world and foster a culture of solidarity where we make sure all are fed, be they next door, in the next state, or on the next continent.  

Allie Gardner is a media relations intern at Bread for the World.

Loaves and Fishes

On Tuesday, Dec. 10, Caritas Internationalis is calling on people around the world to pray at noon local time for an end to global hunger. This "wave of prayer" across time zones will mark the beginning of a campaign for Roman Catholic-related charities, called "One Human Family, Food for All."

In the United States, Bread for the World is urging its members to join other Christians and people of other faiths in this wave of prayer, which is supported by Pope Francis. Please plan to pray — individually, in small groups, in community gatherings, at your church — on Dec. 10 at noon.

Below is a prayer you might consider praying at noon on Dec. 10. Prayers from several other faith traditions are available at bread.org/prayerwave.

Loaves and Fishes

By Education for Justice

Sharing the loaves and fishes,
You gave us an image of solidarity with the hungry, O Lord.

Sharing yourself in the Bread and Wine,
You called all to the table, O Lord.

Give me the hunger to be a part of the feeding
And the healing of this world.

Nourish me with your Grace,
So I may work with joy to serve your children.

Open my eyes and my heart
To recognize those in poverty
And increase my awareness 
Of the structures and systems
That need to be changed 
So we may all break bread together.

In your name we pray for the end of hunger.
Amen.

Photo: A fisherman shows off his catch by the beach in Mexico (Margie Nea).

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