Friday, October 1, 2010

How should we respond to World Hunger?

Our world is filled with hungry people. Hunger is a term which has three meanings (Oxford English Dictionary 1971):
  • the uneasy or painful sensation caused by want of food; craving appetite. Also the exhausted condition caused by want of food
  • the want or scarcity of food in a country
  • a strong desire or craving
World Hunger refers to the second definition, aggregated to the world level. The related technical term is malnutrition. Malnutrition is a general term that indicates a lack of some or all nutritional elements necessary for human health. Estimates indicate there are over one billion hungry people in the world. Most of these people live outside the developed parts of the world.

However, that does not mean there are no hungry people where you live. The following statistics summarize hunger in the United States.

Poverty Statistics in America
  • In 2009, 43.6 million people (14.3 percent) were in poverty.
  • In 2009, 8.8 (11.1% percent) million families were in poverty.
  • In 2009, 24.7 million (12.9 percent) of people aged 18-64 were in poverty.
  • In 2009, 15.5 million (20.7 percent) children under the age of 18 were in poverty.
  • In 2009, 3.4 million (8.9 percent) seniors 65 and older were in poverty.
I serve as chairperson for an ecumenical advocacy group called Missouri Christians Against Racism and Poverty. Over the past year our group has repeatedly received information regarding the increasing number of hungry people in our state. The economic downturn has forced many families into poverty. What is our responsibility? How should a Christian respond to the hunger problems around the world?

This year we have begun a new level of partnership with the Christian Life Commission of the Baptist General Convention of Texas. We are collaborating with our brothers and sisters in Texas to promote our World Hunger Offering. Some of the funds we receive will ultimately help to meet hunger needs here in our state of Missouri. They will also help to address needs across our nation, and through the Baptist World Alliance we will also help to meet the global hunger needs.

Traditionally, we have promoted our World Hunger Offering during October; however, beginning next year we will be providing resources to help our churches learn about poverty and hunger needs throughout the year. We cannot meet the challenges of world hunger with an offering we promote only one month a year. As we seek to Share Hope with our state and our world, I want to encourage you to explore new ways to challenging your members to find ways to get involved in eliminating the poverty in our state, our nation and the world. We have to find ways to do as Jesus did—feed the hungry. Watch for information regarding new resources for promoting your World Hunger Offering during the coming year.

This article was written for our month e-newsletter (The E-Message).

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