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ERLC seeks to raise profile of world’s hungry with new kit

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–In the midst of a sluggish economy and the war on terror, the issue of world hunger has moved off center stage. Because of this, the “least of these” continue to fall through the cracks of neglect.

It saddens even the hardest heart to realize that over 800 million people in our world deal with chronic malnutrition on a daily basis. In spite of this staggering number, over the last three years giving to the Southern Baptist World Hunger Fund has declined steadily, leading to less food aid being available on the field.

To raise the profile of this urgent need, the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission has unveiled a newly updated resource to mobilize churches — and especially student groups — to lead in the fight against world hunger.

Students all over the United States will soon mobilize to BEAT Hunger. BEAT Hunger Weekend will be held October 10-12 and is sponsored by the ERLC. The emphasis challenges believers of all ages to get involved in ministry to hungry people. The acronym BEAT stands for “Believers Everywhere ATtack” Hunger.

“God cares about people in need and calls His people to demonstrate His love as we share the Good News of the Gospel,” said Steven S. Nelson, director of hunger concerns for the ERLC.

BEAT Hunger Weekend participants are asked to do two things: address local hunger needs (for example, by delivering food boxes or serving a meal at a homeless shelter) and raise support for the Southern Baptist World Hunger Fund. The World Hunger Fund uses 100 percent of all donations for hunger projects. None of the money goes to administration or promotion costs.

To help groups desiring to get involved in the fight against hunger, the ERLC developed the BEAT Hunger Kit. It is a resource kit to guide student leaders in conducting a hunger retreat. The newly updated kit contains all the materials needed to conduct a hunger weekend emphasis in each of the next three years, including promotional video segments for each year, a leader’s guide, an event video, Bible studies, posters and receipt books for use in raising funds.

Those who use the kit are challenged to fast for 24 hours. During that time, they will minister to hungry people, determine the Bible’s response to people in need, participate in educational activities and host a banquet to educate their church family on the plight of hungry people.

“Even though it is designed for high school and college age groups, it can be easily modified for any group,” Nelson said, stressing the kit was purposely designed to be adaptable for nearly any age or size group.

Mike McCrary, a youth leader at First Baptist Church in Kennesaw, Ga., plans on participating.

“We saw God do mighty things through the event last year and are eager to see what He is going to do this year,” he said.

The new kit builds on the features tested in the first edition of the kit released five years ago.

“Last year, our kids raised over $2,000,” McCrary said. “The old kit was great, but the new one is even better. It has more video and materials to help make the event even more effective.”

Lewis Thomas, a former youth pastor and current president of When Will We Cry Ministries, said the project can challenge a youth group.

“Any student group that does not get involved in BEAT Hunger misses out on a real blessing,” he said. “BEAT Hunger absolutely changed our youth group and really infected the whole church with enthusiasm to help others on a deeper level.”

Student leaders desiring to purchase a BEAT Hunger Kit can e-mail [email protected] or can call 1-888-375-2461. The kits are $29.95 plus shipping.

For more information, visit www.beathungerweekend.com and www.worldhungerfund.com, or e-mail [email protected].

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