Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger
 

82 posts categorized "Faith"

Join the Global Wave of Prayer to End Hunger


Service at Our Lady of Assumption (Notre Dame de l'Assumption) Church in Petit Goave, Haiti, on Sunday, October 10, 2010 (Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World).

By David Beckmann

Exciting news! Pope Francis is supporting a global wave of prayer to end hunger. On Dec. 10, people are asked to pray at noon local time in what will become a wave of prayer across time zones. We hope that not only Catholics, but also other Christians will join this faith-filled effort to end hunger in the United States and around the world.

This could be a means by which God touches many, many hearts — and perhaps moves our nation to get serious about hunger and poverty.

We at Bread know you have been praying for the past few weeks, at our urging, as Congress has been debating important hunger-related legislation. This day of prayer is an opportunity for us as Bread members to join our prayers with the prayers of others from Guatemala to Tanzania and every place in between — prayers that are all asking for the same thing.

Please also encourage others in your church to join you in prayer on the 10th, or encourage your church to include prayers or to do something else for ending hunger during your worship this Sunday the 8th. Please consider joining Bread staff on the steps of the U.S. Capitol at noon on Dec. 10 for prayers asking Congress to end hunger.

This wave of prayer comes at a particularly critical time in our country. Congress will be finalizing a decision on the farm bill and the harmful cuts to nutrition programs that will impact millions of families that struggle to put a plate of food on the table.

Please call (800-826-3688) or email your members of Congress today. These simple acts can make the difference. 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.

As you prepare for Dec. 10, consider the prayer resources — from various Christian traditions — we have assembled for the day at www.bread.org/prayerwave. Caritas Internationalis, the lead organization for the event, has prepared a special prayer for the day, but feel free to use a prayer appropriate to your own tradition.

Thank you for adding your voice to this global call for prayer and faithful action to end hunger!

David Beckmann is president of Bread for the World.

Filling the Hungry With Good Things: December's Bread for the Preacher

Woman_prayingDid 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. Gary Cook

On the third Sunday of Advent (Dec. 15), the Gospel lesson is Mary's song of praise to the God who "has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty." My Advent prayer is that our nation's policies will reflect the same priorities and that Congress will not be voting that week to further cut food stamp benefits for families struggling to feed their children.

Pope Francis will help launch a call for the whole world to pray on the preceding Tuesday, Dec. 10, for an end to hunger. He is supporting Caritas Internationalis in asking people to pray at noon local time in what will become a global "wave of prayer" across time zones. I hope you will encourage your members to join Pope Francis in this prayer (see the text of the prayer here). Please put the date on your calendar now. (Some churches are planning to include prayers related to the Dec. 10 day of prayer in their services on the preceding Sunday, Dec. 8.) As the day approaches, you will find prayer resources from various Christian traditions at www.bread.org.

As you pray — and as you preach this Advent — remember the ones whom Mary knew God would not forget. May the hungry be filled with good things.

Rev. Gary Cook is director of church relations at Bread for the World.

Reflections on Advent as a Time of Preparation

Girlonlap

By Billy Kangas

Advent is a time of preparation and expectation for the coming of Christ, the time before celebrating the "joy to the world" that God's incarnation becomes. In advance of a celebratory Christmas season that follows Advent, we often take time to reflect on the themes of hope, peace, joy, and love, which gets us ready for a world that Christ has entered. The faithful remember the story of what God has done and look toward where God is going.

G.K. Chesterton wrote, "Hope is the power of being cheerful in circumstances that we know to be desperate." It is not a blissful ignorance or wishful thinking but a subversive cheer that refuses to let circumstance triumph over courage, doubt overcome faith, or adversity conquer compassion. This is not easy; it is not our default setting. When we hit brick walls, the first emotion that naturally arises is generally not hope. Hope requires a strength that comes from focusing on a greater vision than what is wrong. We may not have every problem figured out, but we serve a God who loved this world enough to join us in it. We trust that when Jesus said, "Behold, I am making all things new," he meant it.

Biblical peace is a more than a cessation of wars. It is a reconstituting of reality where mercy and justice reign, power becomes subservient to hospitality, and governance is driven by grace. It confronts rulers with a vision: God's way of life. Advent invites us to see the peace of God as a way of life.

Joy comes upon us unexpectedly. It jumps out at us from behind sunsets, peeks out in the smile of a stranger, and takes hold in a child’s laughter. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a Jesuit biologist and philosopher, once wrote, "Joy is the infallible sign of the presence of God." If this is true, every moment of joy is like a little Christmas in our lives. Advent is not only a time when we hope for the coming of Christ in great history-changing events. It is also a time where we hope for little moments of joy, and invite God to use us as instruments of joy for the world.

In the fourth century, Saint Augustine wrote, "What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men." Advent gives us space to step back and love. By taking the focus off ourselves we are able to see the needs of others.

Billy Kangas is the fellow for Catholic Relations at Bread for the World.

Photo: A girl sits on her mother's lap during church (Laura Elizabeth Pohl).

Giving Thanks for Being Able to Help Others


(USDA photo)

By Fito Moreno

Waking up to the smell of a marinated turkey baking in the oven is what solidified Thanksgiving as my favorite holiday. My family’s Thanksgiving dinner table has always held dishes from many countries. There are pupusas, patatas bravas, stuffing, cranberry sauce, sofrito, tamales, and, of course, the turkey.

Growing up Hispanic, food was always at the heart of all gatherings — graduations, first communions, birthday parties, and especially Thanksgiving. The one concern my mom has always had is making sure everyone has enough to eat and enough to take home. Yet for many families, making sure everyone has enough to eat is a privilege.  

Data released yesterday shows that in 2012, more than 35 percent of Latinos lived 130 percent below the poverty line, and 3.6 million Latinos lived in food-insecure households.

At a glance, those statistics are just numbers. But as I reflect on previous Thanksgiving dinners, I imagine the family members and friends behind those numbers. My mom has always been concerned about making sure everyone has enough to eat because some of our friends and relatives sometimes just don’t have enough. Sometimes friends would be ashamed taking food home, but my mother wouldn’t hear of it. She believes that it is wrong to invite people to your home and have them go hungry; if you are able to feed them, then you are obligated to do so.

As a country, we have the same responsibility. We invite the tired, the poor, the huddled masses; it is our job to ensure that they have enough to eat. 

As I pack my bag and get ready to go to my mother’s place for Thanksgiving, I am thankful to live in a country where I can be a gracious host, and help ensure that all are fed. I am thankful to living in a country where I can have an impact on my government by reaching out to my members of Congress and urging them to ensure that people of all means are nourished.

Fito Moreno is Bread for the World's media relations specialist.

Fast for Families: A Call for Immigration Reform

Fastforfamilies
Participants in the Fast for Families, join together in prayer (photo courtesy of Fast for Families).

In February 2004, Sang Hyuk Jung left Korea and came to the United States, full of hope for a better future. He had visited the country a year earlier to prepare his paperwork and meet with several  "experts," who told him that everything would be fine as long as he paid his "immigration fees." 

Several years passed, and Jung learned that his case had gone nowhere. He was out a huge sum of money, and the "immigration consultant" he'd been working with threatened to turn him in to authorities if he contacted him again. Jung later applied to change his visa status through the proper channels, but his application was denied. He fell into a deep depression and even thought about going back to Korea, but didn't want to uproot his children, who had been living in the United States for five years at that point. He continues to live in this country without legal documentation.

Jung is one of people participating in Fast for Families: A Call for Immigration Reform. On Nov. 12, faith, immigrant rights, and labor leaders launched the fast in an effort to move the hearts of members of Congress, and inspire them to pass compassionate immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States. Bread for the World is one of the sponsors of Fast for Families, and several Bread staff members are fasting.

Jung says he is participating because he is tired of living in the shadows.

"I don’t want to be ashamed of who I am," he wrote in a recent blog post. "I want to tell you, tell others that we should not be discouraged. I know how difficult it is to live as an undocumented immigrant. Yet, I (and my family still) have hope. I believe we can pass comprehensive immigration reform together.

"I also have a message to the members of Congress," he continued. "We, the undocumented, are not different from you. We are just like your friends and families. We also work hard and pay taxes to make this nation better. We’ve been a part of this great nation. If you continue to deny our rights as human beings, if you use us for your political advantage, if you continue to break our families, you will find yourself isolated and you will be held responsible when immigrant families stride to polling places."

We ask that you join us in standing in solidarity with our brothers and sisters who are seeking U.S. citizenship. Sign up to fast, participate in an action in your area, and be sure to contact your representative and tell him or her that it's time for the House of Representatives to move immigration reform forward.

Students Advocate for the Hungry During Teach-In for Justice

Billy_Kangas_and_friendBy Billy Kangas

Last weekend, hundreds of Catholic youths descended on Washington, D.C., for the Ignatian Family Teach-in for Justice, an annual gathering of college and high school students from Jesuit institutions. They prayed together, networked, reflected, and learned about working for justice in the world. The speakers were inspiring, but even more inspiring were the students! They were bright, passionate, engaged, informed, energetic, and deeply committed to letting the love of Jesus spill out of them in both their personal lives, and in their public service and advocacy. They inspired, rejuvenated, and showed me the face of Jesus over and over again.

As Bread for the World’s Catholic relations fellow, I was given the opportunity to put together a team to hang out with hundreds of these amazing young people, who are looking to explore what it means to be an active Catholic with a public voice.

My fellow Bread staff members and I presented at a number of workshops. Amelia Kegan, a domestic policy analyst at Bread, and I talked about creating a "circle of protection" around essential safety net programs here in the United States, and how to take action by urging policy makers to strengthen programs that help hungry people. Bread’s international policy analysts, Beth Ann Saracco and Ryan Quinn, led a session on maternal and child nutrition, and how providing proper nutrients to women and children during the 1,000 days from the beginning of pregnancy through a child’s second birthday is essential for preventing disease, improving education, strengthening health, and saving lives. These 1,000 days are key!

We also invited participants to come to share with us how they are involved in ending hunger in their own communities, and in the world at large.

On Sunday, we were able to address the group as a whole to discuss the importance of protecting SNAP (food stamps) in the farm bill. We trained groups of students in how to talk to their policy makers when they gathered at the Capitol building on Monday for prayer, praise, and advocacy meetings with their congressional representatives.

We also encouraged the students to message their members of Congress using Twitter, and other forms of social media. Take a look at some of the messages these students tweeted to their representatives as part of our social media campaign:

All of this was very encouraging, but the most powerful takeaway I left with was hope. The media is filled with stories that condemn this young generation, calling them lazy, unmotivated, and unwilling to speak up to change the systems that keep people hungry and poor. But this group, and others like it, is proof that their generation is not only engaged, but immensely creative with their activism and eager to help those suffering from hunger and living in poverty.

Banner

Billy Kangas is the fellow for Catholic Relations at Bread for the World.

Photos: (top) Billy Kangas and a friend at the Ignatian Family Teach-in for Justice (Gary Cook). (Bottom) The group of Jesuit students gathered on the mall for the event (Billy Kangas).

Typhoon Haiyan: How to Help


Tacloban City, Leyte, Philippines, was one of the area most ravaged by Typhoon Haiyan. (Caritas/ CAFOD)

Rev. Edwin Amor is pastor of the Seventh Day Adventist Church in Tacloban City on Leyte Island in the Philippines — a city that news reports are calling the center of the disaster zone created by Typhoon Haiyan. His house was badly damaged, and there's no water, no power, no food, and no milk for his grandchild. Still, Amor, who is the local director of the Adventist Relief and Development Association, has opted to stay in Tacloban to help in the relief and recovery efforts.

He is helping coordinate the work of medical teams and performing other vital tasks in the aftermath of a storm that has left thousands dead, and hundreds of thousands without food, clean water, or shelter.

Many of Bread for the World's partners, including denominational disaster programs and faith-based relief agencies, are involved in emergency response. We encourage you to give to your denomination's relief and development agency, or support the efforts of organizations such as World Vision and Church World Service, both of which have mounted disaster-response campaigns.

Interaction, an alliance of more than 180 nongovernmental organizations around the world, including Bread for the World, has compiled a list of its member organizations that are responding to the crisis.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has said it is sending emergency shipments of food to hard-hit areas of the Philippines, providing lifesaving humanitarian assistance in the wake of this tragedy. We ask that, in addition to making generous donations to service organizations, you continue your work to support U.S. food aid programs, which allow the U.S. government to respond quickly and effectively to such disasters, and help our brothers and sisters around the world in times of great need.

Your concern, your generosity, your advocacy, and your prayers are greatly appreciated.

Let's Argue It Out: November's Bread for the Preacher

'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. Gary Cook

Some days, I feel like standing outside Congress holding up a sign that says, "Isaiah 1:8." God’s invitation to a rebellious people is, "Come, let us argue it out." It's an invitation that affirms a lasting relationship and invites dialog, despite having "had enough." Such an attitude would go a long way toward ending the gridlock in Washington.

As we begin the rapid rush through the holidays, many of the people in our pews are "arguing it out" with God. They are seeking to come to some agreement about faithfulness in a context of consumerism. Some understanding of "joy," "hope," and "peace" that surpasses hollow holiday pretense. Some comprehension of Jesus as both Christ child and ruler.

Beginning with the Isaiah text on November 3, the month’s lectionary texts invite such a discussion with God. I pray that your preaching will help it happen. And I ask that your congregation prays for our members of Congress, that they might "argue it out" in a way that the result is good news for hungry and poor people.

Rev. Gary Cook is director of church relations at Bread for the World.

Fighting Poverty By 'Transforming the Whole Pond'

Stalls
Susan and Russell Stall (Photo courtesy of Jay Spivey/FETE magazine).

Bread for the World members Susan and Russell Stall of Greenville, N.C., work to change systems and empower people. The couple recently traveled to Kenya, a trip organized by Dining for Women. Susan serves on the board of the local chapter of this global giving circle dedicated to helping women and girls in the developing world. The Stalls learned about Dining for Women when its founder addressed a JustFaith group that the Stalls facilitated in 2011.

JustFaith is a small-group curriculum that links spirituality and the church’s social justice mission. Bread for the World President David Beckmann, another speaker in the JustFaith series, also made a lasting impression on the Stalls.

“David told about meeting the mother of his adopted child,” Susan recalls. “This woman had made a contribution to Bread for the World. When David asked her what motivated the gift, the woman said that when she was a young, unwed, pregnant woman, she couldn't have survived without the government assistance that Bread for the World helps pass in Congress. Now that her life was stable, she wanted to support Bread’s work.”

“I was struck by how this person was helped—and even more that Bread for the World’s own leader was indirectly impacted by Bread's advocacy through his child’s birth mother. I was also struck by the inclusiveness David exuded when he addressed us. My son asked a question and David answered as though Hampton (the only teenager at the event) was the most important person in the room.”

In 2008, Russell founded Greenville Forward, dedicated to improving the Stalls’ home city. The effort mobilizes community conversations, leadership development, and community gardens, to name just a few. The latter is of special interest to Russell.

“Public gardens, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are becoming the new front porch, where people can see each other and visit, and grow healthy food to eat,” he says.

The Stalls are members of Triune Mercy Center, a non-denominational mission church, where affluent members sit shoulder-to-shoulder with homeless people, who make up half the congregation.  Susan calls the congregation “an incredible model.”  Triune recently hosted a large Offering of Letters.  These letters to Congress had a special significance, since many of them were penned by low-income and homeless constituents.

Susan and Russell have a son in college and another in his senior year of high school. Their oldest son, Hampton, worked as an intern at Bread for the World this past summer.

 The Stalls’ preferred mode of financially supporting efforts to end hunger is through gifts of stock to Bread for the World Institute.

“We’re not the top of the heap when it comes to income. But we do have resources,” Susan explains. “When we give appreciated stock, Bread for the World Institute gets the full amount—and we are not liable to pay capital gains tax on it. So giving stock has been a great mechanism for us. Being Bread members provides us with a way to advocate for the world’s most marginalized people.”

“Bread for the World could go out and give food to people,” Russell says. “But changing systems? Empowering people to speak out? That’s not teaching a man to fish. It’s transforming the whole pond!”

Bringing Good News of Great Joy with Bread Christmas Cards

Christmas Card
Bread for the World 2012 Christmas card image. (Nurun Nahar Nargish/Drik/Majority World)

By Vince Mezzera

Reconnecting with friends and family. Reminding people that you care. Spreading holiday cheer. Bread for the World members know that sending our Christmas cards can accomplish all of these things, while also delivering the good news that a world without hunger is possible.

Geneva Butz of Philadelphia says there are several reasons she has used Bread for the World Christmas cards in recent years. “First of all, they are very attractive,” says Butz, who ordered this year’s new shepherd boy design. Beyond that, Butz says it is a way to introduce her friends to Bread, "especially at the holidays when people are focusing on the needs of others around the world.” 

Long-time Bread supporters George and Kammy Young of Knoxville, Tenn., selected a previous year’s design. “When we were deciding what to use for Christmas cards to send to the clergy of the Episcopal Diocese of East Tennessee, we first thought of Bread,” George Young says. “We loved the cards available, and especially were grateful for the women's theme” of the mother praying design.

Some Bread members plan to spread the Christmas cards beyond their usual lists of friends and family. Margaret Smith of Dallas, Texas, also sends Bread’s cards to her members of Congress.  Smith says she wants to “support the wonderful work that Bread for the World does,” adding, “I am a JustFaith graduate and a RESULTS global group leader; both organizations are partners with Bread and share the same goals.” 

For Smith, the cards offer a way to connect the people in her life to her passion for ending hunger. “Almost everyone who will get a card knows that I am a champion for the end of hunger and poverty," she says. "I want the card to remind them of the importance of this goal.”

Good news, indeed.

To view all five of Bread for the World’s available Christmas card designs, visit www.bread.org/cards

Vince Mezzera is Bread for the World’s resource specialist for members and churches.

Stay Connected

Bread for the World