EDITOR’S NOTE: Oct. 14, 2007, is World Hunger Sunday in the Southern Baptist Convention.
RICHMOND, Va. (BP)–On Aug. 15, an 8.0-magnitude earthquake 90 miles outside of Lima, Peru, shook the countryside and left approximately 33,000 people without shelter and food.
Baptists immediately came to their aid. Missionaries on the ground and others from the United States gathered to feed and comfort the Peruvians.
Wayne Brinkley of the Southern Baptist International Mission Board set up community kitchens to feed families in a city a few hours from Lima. A preliminary relief team assessed needs in the earthquake areas to bring relief to smaller communities. Within days, a system to feed thousands through World Hunger Funds was in place and Southern Baptist volunteers were in place to assist in this effort.
On the other side of the world a few days later, another disaster occurred. The area around Bihar, India, was caught off guard in what was called the severest flood in living memory. Once again, World Hunger Funds allowed Southern Baptists to respond rapidly.
Southern Baptist missionaries and local believers surveyed the flooding conditions, then quickly put into effect a plan to bring food to those in need. The survey trip revealed about 1,000 families stranded and in desperate need of food.
Food packets were filled with ready-to-eat items designed to provide the maximum nourishment possible. A small group of nearby Christians banded together to get food to those stranded, who otherwise might have starved before floodwaters receded.
In three days, because of Southern Baptists’ gifts to the World Hunger Fund, Lottie Moon Christmas Offering and Cooperative Program, the missionaries and Indian believers packaged and distributed food to families in four of Bihar’s flooded villages.
“Fortunately, through Baptist relief, we have the resources to do something,” said Elvin Trueb*, a Christian serving in Bihar. “Even though there are not a lot of local resources at our disposal, God gave us what we needed and what we’d be able to handle.”
Nearly 190 other international hunger relief projects were carried out in 2006 because Southern Baptists gave $6 million in financial gifts to help feed hungry people overseas.
Southern Baptists gave another $1.4 million that was distributed to 2,200 hunger ministries in North America: 3.5 million meals were provided and over 30,000 professions of faith were reported.
Donors may designate contributions for either overseas or domestic use. However, monies collected without restrictions through the World Hunger Fund are distributed with 80 percent to international projects and 20 percent for ministries in North America.
Gifts to the Southern Baptist World Hunger Fund have provided dairy cows to a war-torn area of Central and Eastern Europe to create long-term employment opportunities through milk. A three-month food supply was given to thousands of elderly in Serbia to help them survive a harsh winter.
Southern Baptist dollars also provided thousands of bags of maize to families in Africa affected by drought and famine.
The World Hunger Fund enables Southern Baptists to respond quickly and strategically to needs. Five important characteristics distinguish it from other agencies that specialize in hunger relief efforts:
1. One hundred percent of each donation goes to a hunger ministry project. This is possible because Southern Baptist personnel already are in place through the Cooperative Program to see that those in need are served. No hunger funds are used for administration or overhead.
2. All of the projects have an intentional spiritual strategy.
3. All of the projects have “on the ground” accountability.
4. Southern Baptists are a part of the projects from the very beginning.
5. Southern Baptists are involved for the full term of the project and sometimes beyond. Each project is designed, coordinated, supervised and evaluated.
Hunger funds are used only for meeting food-related needs, such as assisting people with buying and growing food and using it properly, as well as to teach nutrition and how to avoid malnutrition.
Along with the physical needs met through each of these projects, the Gospel is shared, Bibles are distributed and local Christians are engaged to meet the spiritual needs of the people receiving hunger funds.
*Names changed for security reasons. Marie Travis is a writer for the Southern Baptist International Mission Board. To make a donation to the Southern Baptist World Hunger Fund, go to imb.org/worldhunger or www.namb.net/hunger.