October 15, 2008
How Hungry Are You Today?
If you ate breakfast this morning, you're probably not among the 1,000,000,000 who don't have enough to eat.
I had Cherrios (again) for breakfast thanks to General Mills and the Washburn brothers. But tomorrow (October 16) is World Food Day and it's a good time for Christians to think differently about food, food aid, and food ministry.
Globalization has transformed agribusiness, the national and international response to food emergencies, and the way Christians, their churches, and faith-based organizations respond to hungry and needy people.
This post serves as my heads up to CT readers that our November 2008 cover story is titled, "Hunger Isn't History." It will be posted on the CT site within a few days' time. The print edition goes out via USPS this week.
The ongoing global food story truly has crisis proportions. Here are some headline quotes that help to prove my point:
India has the largest number of hungry people in the world, despite the strong economic growth witnessed in recent years. From New Delhi, Anjana Pasricha says a new report shows that India's economic boom has brought new prosperity to its middle class and pulled many out of poverty, but that millions of people n the vast country still struggle on low incomes.
A report by the International Food Policy Research Institute says hunger, across India's 17 major states, ranges from "serious to extremely alarming." Voice of America
ROME (AFP) - The international goal of cutting hunger by half by 2015 appears "even more remote" after 75 million new people joined the ranks of the famished last year, a United Nations agency said Tuesday.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said that high food prices have reversed the gains made towards achieving the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) of reducing the proportion of people suffering from hunger by 2015.
Jacques Diouf, director-general of the Rome-based agency, said Wednesday that the number of malnourished people rose from 850 million to 925 million in 2007.
During world food summits held in 1996, 2002 and last June, the international community underscored its desire to reach food security and cut the number of people suffering from chronic hunger in half by 2015. AFP
What is essence of how Christians can think differently about global hunger? This is one of the big questions I thought CT should tackle in addressing the current hunger crisis because we in "The West" cannot provide enough free rice, beans, or wheat and cooking oil to feed the chronically hungry of the world until the kingdom comes.
we need to realize that there is not a global shortage of food (at the moment anyway). Experts note that in 2007 there was a record grain harvest.
Don't believe me? Read Worldwatch's report, here.
Second, we Christians need to smarten up about the latest advances not only in agriculture, but also agriculture systems and global markets. Any meaningful solution to global hunger will require a global response from the farmer up the food chain all the way to the consumer. Here's an out-take quote from food aid expert Bob Zachritz, from World Vision:
Take the country of Sudan. What the needs are in Khartoum, the capital, are very different from where the needs are in the south down by Juba, or very different from the needs out in the west in the Darfur region.
Take the situation in North Korea. The situation in the capital city is very different from the countryside. So even within one country, the needs can be different.
There are top tier principles that you can apply across the board. I go back to that little triangle of hunger, nutrition, and agriculture. There are top tier principles of networking, working together, and resources that you can use, but that template must be changed based on community input and the given situation in the country at the time, including droughts, famines, wars, government mismanagement; those type of things.
If solving global hunger was easy, we would have solved it long ago. But fighting hunger isn't easy.
Third, we Christians should act with greater wisdom and cooperation, and for the long haul if global hunger (and poverty) are to become things of the past. Zachritz told me:
There are numerous ways different people can respond. You can be involved through advocacy. It can be directly giving. It can be through community organizing. You're part of the body of Christ. What are our responsibilities? In Isaiah it talks about what's a true fast but to care for the needs of the poor.
In Proverbs, it talks about if you give to those in need, you're lending to God, which I find amazing. And again in James, it talks about caring for the widow and the orphan.
We as individuals can't do it all by ourselves. We can do something. But sometimes in advocacy, our collective voice is stronger than our individual voices. And so there's opportunity there.
We all have spheres of influence, spheres of power. How do we use that, our own spheres of influence and power for change, positive change as Christians that would then bring glory to God?
So tell me about the five loaves and two fish in your church and what you are doing with them to feed the hungry: