Baptists of the world are observing October as World Hunger Month through the Baptist World Alliance. BWA suggests the emphasis "sensitizes Baptists around the world regarding the extent of global hunger and invites Baptists to join the quest to eradicate the scourge." BWA is a fellowship of 223 conventions and unions in 120 countries comprising 42 million members in 177,000 churches.
Global hunger is one of those terms that prompts one to think of starving children and families on some far-away, drought-plagued continent. There is no question such places blot the world map, some in places plagued by warfare and even inter-tribal genocide.
But while world hunger is a reality around the globe for the entire human race, it is an atrocity that manifests itself in individuals, each with a name, address and people to whom he or she are significant in places like our own communities. World hunger is a systemic term that threatens illness, disability and even death. It is a solveable crisis and a condition for which a loving God surely judges humanity for its lack of attention to adequately address.
Most church people participate in local emphases to meet hunger needs in their communities. They provide food and money to assist families who cannot provide adequately for themselves. In some communities, churches and civic groups focus on efforts to help the unemployed find work or develop work skills. Woman's Missionary Union of the Southern Baptist Convention years ago began the Christian Women's Job Corps to assist women and mothers in this way.
The BWA's new director of Baptist World Aid, Rothangliani Chhangte, cites a World Bank report showing that "efforts to halve poverty and hunger by 2015 are working."
It has been 12 years since the United Nations established eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) following a Millennium Summit in 2000. Among these goals is the halving of extreme poverty and hunger by 2015.
Local and world conditions have meant that progress has not always been easy.
Chhangte says that "economic recession, rising food and fuel prices, coupled with wars, drought and other weather-related disasters in various parts of the world, still keep 990 million [people] in poverty."
Chhangte believes the Baptists of the world could do more in the fight against hunger if they were aware of the issues behind poverty and hunger. That is the purpose of World Food Day, observed on Oct. 16.
I agree with her. People have to know about such issues before they can be (1) fully motivated to address them and (2) can put money, hands and feet to the efforts to ensure the most basic human needs for those in danger and at risk.
The BWA has adopted several development projects to meet "the nutritional needs of those who live in poverty and face daily the reality of hunger, as well as to break the cycle of poverty." To be sure, these include providing relief and emergency supplies. But they also involve the funding of agricultural and educational efforts, as well as income generating projects that provide employment opportunities for people in the community.
Chhangte is quick to remind us that "the majority of the world's poor are women and children, most of whom live in rural areas." She credits Baptists who provide assistance and aid will help to "empower the poorest of the poor."
For more information on World Hunger Month, visit the BWA website at www.bwanet.org, where hunger donations may also be made. Hunger funds may be sent directly to Baptist World Aid, 405 North Washington St., Falls Church, VA 22046.
Our readers are familiar with other sources of information about world hunger needs and conduits for giving, including:
- Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (www.thefellowship.info), 2930 Flowers Road South Suite 133 Atlanta, GA 30341.
- International Mission Board (www.imb.org), 3806 Monument Ave., PO Box 6767, Richmond, VA 23230-0767.
- North American Mission Board, SBC (www.namb.net), 4200 North Point Pwy., Alpharetta, Georgia 30022-4176.
- American Baptist Churches USA (www.abc-usa.org), PO Box 851, Valley Forge, PA 19482-0851.
All of the above are 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations, and gifts are tax-deductible.
Baptists and others can pick up the pace to fill the gaps in hunger pockets both domestic and international. None of us could bear the thought of our own children and grandchildren suffering like this; surely we feel no less about any of God's children living - or dying - with this scourge.
Bill Webb is editor of Word&Way. Some of this information came from a BWA press release.