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2 churches take special interest in ministering to world’s hungry

LONDON, Ky. (BP)–Although numerous missions causes get most of the attention, two Kentucky pastors believe Southern Baptist churches shouldn’t overlook the world’s hungry.
“The emphasis needs to be there on those less fortunate than ourselves,” said Bob Stevens of Victory Baptist Church in London.
Members of that congregation recently pledged nearly $6,000 for the Southern Baptist World Hunger Fund.
“In Matthew 25, Jesus said we’ll be separated by those who fed and clothed people and visited those in prison,” said the pastor.
A special emphasis on World Hunger Day at First Baptist Church of Shelbyville, Ky., raised more than $13,000 during October. Pastor Ed Irwin expects it to go higher, since donations keep showing up in the collection plate.
“Plan well and give it a concentrated effort,” Irwin advised. “That day captured the hearts and imaginations of people. When it came to helping the poor and hurting, they gave.”
Victory Baptist’s response was noteworthy since the church only averages 100 in Sunday attendance.
Twenty-four families, including a visitor from Indiana, pledged to give $20 a month during the coming year to help alleviate world hunger.
The pledges were in addition to more than $800 in donations. Most of the cash was raised through a promotion Stevens started after coming to the church last year.
The effort involves distribution of plastic rice bowls. The pastor asked members to place them on their dinner table as a reminder that many people would be glad just to have one daily meal of rice.
The bowls were also used to collect money over a six-week span prior to World Hunger Day. About a fourth haven’t been returned, so he expects the total to increase.
“I expected people to step up, but not that much,” Stevens said. “I was overwhelmed. I don’t think we’ve seen the end result of this yet.”
Brochures produced by the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission were helpful in stimulating interest, Stevens said. Until members read how many hungry people $20 could feed, they hadn’t given it much thought, he said.
He repeatedly emphasized every penny goes to hunger ministry, with food and related aid distributed through missionaries and agencies already in the field.
Stevens said the other reason for the enthusiastic response can be attributed to church-wide studies of Experiencing God and Fresh Encounter last year.
“I believe this is the fruit of that because we’re doing what God wants us to do,” he said.
First Baptist in Shelbyville scheduled a week of special activities, culminating in a barbecue and bluegrass concert the afternoon of World Hunger Day. Two retired missionaries spoke at the event.
During morning worship services, a member gave a testimony about her experiences on a mission trip to Africa. Erwin’s sermon was titled, “Affluenza,” a sickness he said infects too many Americans.
First Baptist’s pastor expects the offering total to reach $15,000, which is twice the goal set by the church.
“This is the first time we’ve done something of this magnitude,” he said, “but we’ll be doing this on an ongoing basis.”

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  • Ken Walker