Editorial: When Relief Is Not Enough
Bread for my neighbor is a spiritual concern.
December 9, 1996
I come from an extended family where at one meal we already start talking about what we are going to eat at the next. That is not the experience of 800 million people today who don't know where their next meal is coming from. If we were to think of the whole earth as a restaurant, one in seven persons is not getting served. Hunger is not just a Third World problem. According to a report released in October by Bread for the World, 20.8 percent of children in this country are poor, the highest rate of any industrialized nation.
While Jesus said that the poor (and hungry) will always be with us, we dare not misconstrue Jesus' description of human reality as a prescription justifying inaction. For our Lord also warned that we will be judged by whether we feed the hungry and clothe the naked. The early church was known not only for its ritual breaking of bread, but also for its service to the widowed and the poor. The second-century Shepherd of Hermas worried that some Christians were overconsuming food and not sharing with the needy—signs that true repentance and community spirit were lacking.
Fortunately, many Christians today do care about world hunger. Over half of American citizens contribute to hunger-relief programs. Many of these give because they are people of faith. It is not uncommon for local congregations to run food banks, give food to homeless shelters and rescue missions, take crop walks, and fast in order to give the money saved to food-aid programs. World Vision, for instance, has created an annual 30-hour famine program for youth groups and others, scheduled in 1997 for February 21-22. (Resources are available from 30 Hour Famine, P.O. Box 70094, Tacoma, Wash. 98481.)
Christians concerned about hunger, however, ...