By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
Hunger. For most of us, we have no idea of what true hunger is. We all perhaps have gone a day or so without food, but we seldom can say we are really hungry.
I recently had a colonoscopy which means I went without eating solid food for more than 24 hours.
And though I was “hungry” I knew I would have something to eat after my procedure.
Many people today don’t have the luxury of knowing when they will get their next meal.
According to Feeding America, a hunger organization, 49 million Americans struggle with hunger, including 17 million children. That means that one in six people do not get enough food to be healthy, according to Feeding America.
The thought of children going without food really troubles me. I know that in many cases money for food is used for drugs, alcohol, etc. Children have no control over what their parents do, but they suffer the consequences.
Just this year schools in Metropolitan Nashville began providing both breakfast and lunch for school children at no cost. Though I think that parents who can afford to should help offset the cost, I am glad that children are being fed two meals a day at least five days a week.
But what about the evening meals and on weekends? I have heard stories of how children do not have enough to eat during those times.
I am grateful that churches are helping in small ways to combat hunger in their communities.
During summer months, many churches have developed community gardens to provide fresh vegetables and fruit.
Many churches have food pantries that provide canned and dry goods to families who need food.
I have heard of some churches that provide small bags of food for needy children in schools to take home over the weekend so they will have something to eat. Hopefully more and more churches will develop ministries to help people who do not get enough food.
Of course, hunger is not just a problem in the United States.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, more than one billion people worldwide (one-sixth of humanity) do not have enough to eat.
Bread for the World reports that every day almost 16,000 children die from hunger-related causes.
These kind of statistics should trouble Christians. God has blessed us in so many ways.
On Oct. 12, Southern Baptists in Tennessee and across the nation will have the opportunity to observe World Hunger Sunday. The theme for this emphasis is very appropriate and true: “Hunger Happens Everywhere.”
The special emphasis on hunger is sponsored by Global Hunger Relief, a cooperative initiatives of Southern Baptist hunger ministries. Donations received are channeled through Global Hunger Relief which uses 100 percent of each gift to meet hunger needs. Some of these funds return to Tennessee and are used to meet needs in our state as well as across the nation and around the world.
The national GHR partners are the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, North American Mission Board, International Mission Board, Baptist Global Response, Woman’s Missionary Union, LifeWay Christian Resources, and SBC Executive Committee.
Consider your role in helping to combat hunger in our state, nation, and world.
Whether it is giving a special offering to Global Hunger Relief or becoming involved in your church’s food pantry or other hunger relief effort, find a way to provide food to those who truly need it.
It’s not only the right thing to do, it’s an imperative for us set by none other than Jesus Christ.
Scripture is filled with references to feeding the hungry and meeting the needs of the poor, but we get specific instruction from Jesus in Matthew 25:37-40 (HCSB): “Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You something to drink?” When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or without clothes and clothe You? When did we see You sick or in prison, and visit You?’ And the King will answer them, ‘I assure you: Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.’ ”
There you have it. Meeting the needs of the hungry in the world around us is not an option. It’s an action that our Lord expects us to fulfill. May we all be found faithful.
For more about World Hunger Sunday and resources, visit www.globalhungerrelief.com.