EDITOR’S NOTE: A second story on Southern Baptists’ Global Hunger Relief is included below this story.
NASHVILLE (BP) — With churches across America set to observe Global Hunger Sunday Oct. 9, the coalition of Southern Baptists sponsoring the emphasis has prepared a variety of educational resources.
“Words, even spiritual sounding words, aren’t enough,” Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission President Russell Moore writes in a Global Hunger Sunday article. “The Gospel compels us to practical acts of mercy. This is exactly why the church must take an active role in feeding the hungry around the world.
“Hungry people — and there are almost 1 billion men, women and children suffering from hunger around the world — are not just issues; they are people in need of the grace and love of Christ,” Moore notes.
Global Hunger Sunday is an annual emphasis which encourages giving for Global Hunger Relief (GHR), a Southern Baptist initiative formerly known as the World Hunger Fund that supports hunger-relief projects in North America and around the world.
According to data compiled by the ERLC, 842 million people spanning nearly every country on earth do not have enough food to live an active, healthy life. Among the resources designed to help motivate believers to address this problem are:
— Bulletin inserts that tell the story of a refugee in South Africa whose children fought over the last morsels of oatmeal in her house the very day relief workers arrived with a box of food provided by GHR.
— An article by the ERLC’s Jill Waggoner suggesting “five small ways to fight global hunger.” Her suggestions include “know the communities most at risk” and “talk with your children and your family.”
— A Bible study guide to help small groups consider Scripture’s teaching on hunger and helping the hungry.
— A video illustrating the global hunger crisis and the work of GHR.
— A Spanish-language resource titled “Comprendiendo El Hambre Global.”
These and other hunger resources, which can be utilized year-round, are available at GlobalHungerRelief.com and ERLC.com.
Through GHR and Global Hunger Sunday, Southern Baptists gave food assistance to at least 173,000 people in 2015.
In addition to the ERLC, other partners of GHR and Global Hunger Sunday include the International Mission Board, the North American Mission Board, Woman’s Mission Union, LifeWay Christian Resources, the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee and Baptist Global Response.
With its support structure funded by Southern Baptist churches’ ongoing gifts through the Cooperative Program, all funds given through GHR go directly to meeting hunger needs.
David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service. BP reports on missions, ministry and witness advanced through the Cooperative Program and on news related to Southern Baptists’ concerns nationally and globally.
Baptist Global Response fights hunger with seeds as Global Hunger Sunday approaches
By Lily Jameson
LESOTHO, Africa (BP) — Not long ago, people shouted for joy in Lesotho. They grinned. They praised God. All because trucks drove into their village carrying seed from Baptist Global Response and Global Hunger Relief.
“Their fields were plowed, waiting for seed they did not have,” International Mission Board missionary Teresa Flora wrote on Facebook, recounting the event. As she and her husband Jim distributed the seeds, she snapped pictures of villagers’ exuberant faces.
Because Southern Baptists gave to BGR and GHR, these people could plant after a long drought killed not only their crops but also their seed to plant for another harvest. Without assistance, the fields in this village would remain empty.
As Global Hunger Sunday, an annual giving event, approaches on Oct. 9, Southern Baptists have the chance to continue impacting such regions during times of need.
“The effects of the lack of food is becoming more apparent,” Teresa Flora explained in an email. “The kids and elderly seem to be suffering the most. The fields have been plowed, but so many were unable to plant due to lack of funds to buy seed. The only seed available to them if they do have funds, is the hybrid seed, which will not allow them to save back seed for next year. Thus, the cycle would continue. No seed. No food.”
The Floras have been partnering with BGR to mitigate the effects of Lesotho’s current drought. BGR is a Southern Baptist humanitarian organization that focuses on disaster relief and community development. Global Hunger Relief (GHR), formerly known as the World Hunger Fund, supports anti-hunger projects in North America and around the world. Donations given on Global Hunger Sunday are funneled through GHR to the International Mission Board and to the North American Mission Board. BGR works in partnership with the IMB to operate aid programs.
For the past year, BGR has administered GHR funds for multiple projects in southern Africa to mitigate the effects of a devastating drought caused by the El Nino weather pattern. The Floras are focusing on Lesotho, where 680,000 people need assistance with food and livelihood protection, according a May 2016 report from the World Food Programme.
“It is a widespread problem,” Flora wrote. “Severe in nature. Lesotho has the second highest HIV prevalence rate and orphan rate in the world. In order for those affected [to stay healthy], good nutrition is essential. We believe that things for some will become much worse before they become better. We pray that the food has reached them in time.”
Fortunately for the Floras and for the people they serve, Global Hunger Sunday is imminent. BGR and GHR have both published resources, on www.gobgr.org and www.globalhunger.com respectively, to help churches educate their congregations about this worldwide issue. Donations collected on that day — and year-round — will help keep meal programs and seed distributions running throughout the upcoming year.
These funds will help project directors like the Floras keep spreading hope in hungry places. They say they find it difficult to watch people in Lesotho suffer during this drought. But those villagers change completely when relief packages arrive.
“When given the food and seed … many times, they cry. Most times, they laugh and sing,” Teresa Flora said. “It brings us such joy to listen to them beg God for provision and to know the prayer has been answered already through Southern Baptist churches in America!”
Southern Baptists can participate in Global Hunger Sunday in their churches, or they can give online through the BGR and GHR websites. Any amount will help. Any donation will put a smile on the face of a hungry person.
Lily Jameson is a staff writer for Baptist Global Response.