Category: Hunger and Poverty

Merry Christmas from Texas to Europe

Serbian Baptists have risen up to meet the vast needs of Middle East refugees arriving in their country. Now, a Texas Baptist family is sending $15,000 to help meet the need.

The ongoing work and the new gift are, in a way, a Christmas gift of love to a mostly Muslim people in need. The Texas Baptist Hunger Offering has facilitated the connection between Texas and Europe.

I contacted the European Baptist Federation a few months ago as the migration became prominent news around the world. EBF personnel worked to clearly identify specific ways funds could be used well in addressing the crisis, because we wanted the money to be used to support local Baptist ministry.

The need arose in south Serbia, but declines in giving to the Texas Baptist Hunger Offering made it impossible to free up extra dollars for the project. So, I called a dear friend, Jackie Baugh Moore. Within 48 hours, the Baugh Foundation had approved the $15,000 gift.

It is hard for the CLC staff to express our deep gratitude to the Baugh family and to Baptists around the world. The Baugh family has expressed great generosity through the years in supporting various Baptist efforts. And our connections with Baptists around the world made it possible to address needs through specific Christ-centered work.

Click here to read more about this project.

(This post originally appeared on the Texas Baptists web site.)

Write your senator and representative

Somalia drought and famineBread for the World has announced its 2014 Offering of Letters to United States senators and representatives. Bread does not send these letters; Bread encourages and empowers individual Christians to conduct this annual letter-writing campaign, and this often occurs through churches.

This year’s effort asks lawmakers to reform United States food aid in times of crisis and to foster long-term solutions to hunger. Specifically, it asks for legislation to pursue three goals:

1) Improve efficiency in international crisis aid by allowing more food to be bought in or near the country where it is needed and by reducing sales of American-grown food in developing countries and instead funding local projects that can provide more sustainable anti-hunger efforts.

2) Enhance the nutritional quality of food aid and better target it to vulnerable people, such as women and children in the first 1,000 days of life.

3) Protect funding for emergency and development food aid.

Bread, which is supported by the Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission, provides a wide variety of helpful resources to help people understand the issues related to U.S. aid and to help churches organize letter-writing campaigns. It’s a great way to lay a foundation of concern for hunger and poverty in the world, and this concern is firmly rooted in the gospel message of Jesus.

(This post originally appeared on the site.)

A place for the distressed, those in debt, the discontented

David has been one of my heroes for as long as I remember — little guy slays big Goliath. That’s what got my attention as a kid. Later, the “man after God’s own heart” description of David captured my heart. (1 Samuel 13:14 and Acts 13:22)

In my love and appreciation for David I had forgotten these words from Scripture:

“David left there and escaped to the cave of Adullam; when his brothers and all his father’s house heard of it, they went down there to him. Everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented gathered to him; and he became captain over them. Those who were with him numbered about four hundred.” (1 Samuel 22:1-2)

The distressed, those in debt, and the discontented gathered to him. It sounds like  his great-great-great-great…-grandson, Jesus. David was a man after God’s own heart, and Jesus was the “only begotten son of God.”

It seems that when we become more like Christ and become people after God’s own heart, then those in distress, in debt, and discontented will come to us, as well. I hope we will be like Jesus and David and welcome them, help them, and give them means to serve.

Texas improves on childhood hunger

Take a bow, Texas. You deserve applause on the issue of childhood hunger.

Three years ago, Texas ranked second worst in the nation on this critical issue. Today, we’ve climbed to 11th. We still have much, much work to do, but that is great progress.

Jeremy Everett, director of the Texas Hunger Initiative, announced the new ranking at the Southwest Regional Hunger Summit at Baylor University Wednesday, Oct. 17.

The first summit was held three years ago. The Christian Life Commission launched THI and there is a direct correlation between creation of THI and the improvement in Texas. THI has worked with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Texas Department of Agriculture, statewide non-profits, food banks, and local groups to organize the response to hunger.

“When gathered here (three years ago) it seemed like we were in a deserted place, and we were,” Everett said at this week’s summit. “But we have seen things transformed.”

Many people are not aware that the USDA administers the federal government’s various food and nutrition programs. It does this because SNAP (Food Stamps), Summer Meals, and other programs are directly connected to and benefit the nation’s agriculture culture and industry. There are two public benefits of these efforts — providing for people in need and keeping our agricultural infrastructure sound.

As a result, it was USDA resources that have been critical in the Texas turnaround. “We were leaving billions of dollars on the table because we did not have a coordinated system,” Everett said. In other words, federal dollars approved for various programs were not being accessed. All of the groups mentioned above, led by THI, have created processes to improve access to those funds.

It’s not only the poorest in Texas who are benefiting. It is creating jobs in grocery stores and providing needed cash for store owners. Everett calls it “trickle up economics.”

“You invest in the poorest people in your community,” and they “have to immediately turn around and spend it” because their needs are so great, Everett told me. Those dollars are spent in communities, and it is estimated that one-in-10 working class grocery jobs are attributable to government programs, he said.

So, we celebrate. Hunger is being reduced, jobs are being created, and our communities are being improved. Now, we shoot for continuing to climb the latter.

Pray for relief team in Ethiopia

(Originally posted on Facebook.)

Please pray for a famine relief team we have in Ethiopia. A video camera has been confiscated and officials are jittery after a BBC report from the refugee camps. Pray that God will give them the needed access to help relief dollars flow effectively. And pray that the camera will be returned.

 October 3 at 8:29am

Too much hunger

(Originally posted on Facebook.)

The USDA report reveals that almost one in five Texas households (18.8 percent, or 1.7 million households) were food insecure between 2008 and 2010, compared to 14.6 percent of households nationwide. Over one-third of these households (6.9 percent) are classified as having very low food security—the more severe condition associated with food insecurity—compared to 5.6 percent of U.S. households. Texas ranks second in the nation for the highest percentage of food insecure households, and is tied

In 2010, 14.5 percent of U.S. households were food insecure. The percentage of U.S. households that were food insecure had increased sharply in 2008 and remained at that high level in 2009 and 2010the highest recorded percentage since national monitoring of food security began in 1995.

‘Such as these’ 8 – Ngwela Paul Msiza

When Nelson Mandela became president of South Africa in 1994, one of the first things he did was a feeding program for school children. Many opposed because of financial strains, but Mandela pushed it anyway, said Ngwela Paul Msiza during the recent “… such as these” conference in Dallas.

Msiza, of the Baptist Convention of South Africa, spoke on the topic,”Responding to Childhood Hunger, African Church Perspective.” Here are my paraphrased notes:

The church in Africa … The mainline churches have been overtaken by the pentacostal movement. … The prosperity churches are a big thing. … All privatized Christianity; its all about me, and that weakens the church’s action on social justice. … The more you speak of prosperty and about me and my good living, we are making the gospel weaker and weaker in places where it is supposed to be strong. … Christianity is growing in South Africa. … Then why are we having so many of these ills still growing. …

There are other poroblems that go alongside childhood hunger. … Funds sometimes do not reach the intended beneficiary. … Problem of corruption. …

I believe that in order for us as a church in Africa to respond effectivedly to childhood poverty. … First, the church must begin to see children as Jesus sees them. If we use the eyes of Christ, then our attitudes and motives will change. … In some churches, children are not part of the worship. Children are not to be pushed to the side. … Christ who says anyone who welcomes children welcomes Christ himself. … We do ourselves a favor when we help children. … The church must help the world to understand. We cannot let children roam the streets and pretend that all is well. …

We need to welcome children in our midst. we need to hold them in our hearts. We need to bless them. … It helps us to think about them all the time. …

Msiza spoke during a May 24-25, 2011, conference titled, “…such as these…”: An Evangelical Advocacy Response to Global Childhood Hunger. The event was held at Dallas Baptist University and sponsored by Bread for the World, Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission, National Association of Evangelicals, Micah Challenge, Baptist World Alliance, Christian Reformed World Relief Committee, and DBU.