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World Hunger Day set to draw attention to worldwide needs

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Southern Baptists will highlight a major emphasis for meeting the practical needs of millions worldwide with World Hunger Day Oct. 10, meant to create awareness of hunger needs and to educate church members on how they can contribute.

Launched in 1999, the World Hunger Fund is a unified method for Southern Baptists to give money specifically for meeting hunger needs, and 100 percent of contributions to the hunger fund are used to pay for food assistance.

The distribution system is already in place through the SBC’s 10,000 missionaries in North America and around the world, with their support provided through the Cooperative Program, Lottie Moon Christmas Offering and the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering. Volunteers also make up a large portion of those who distribute the food, so no money is taken out for distribution expenses.

When $1 is given through the World Hunger Fund, 80 cents is sent to the International Mission Board for overseas hunger projects while 20 cents is sent to the North American Mission Board to support hunger projects in the United States and Canada.

NAMB reported that from January to September 2004, domestic hunger funds have been used to provide 1.5 million meals to those in need and 11,500 professions of faith have been tallied as a result of the hunger ministry. Also, more than $1 million has been distributed to state conventions for hunger relief in the United States this year.

One specific ministry that benefits from domestic hunger funds is the Brantley Baptist Center in New Orleans, which feeds more than 12,000 meals each month with the average cost per meal at less than 40 cents. Another ministry, Mission Solano in California, distributes 1,500 lunch bags each month to those in need of meals in the area. Both ministries receive funds regularly from NAMB’s domestic hunger fund.

NAMB’s hunger ministry assists churches, associations and state conventions so that in the process of distributing food, the Gospel can be shared. By meeting physical needs, opportunities are created to address spiritual needs.

IMB field personnel conducted a total of 269 projects in 52 countries in 2003 with total expenditures exceeding $6.1 million. Projects included ministries to street children in Brazil, grain distribution to people in southern Africa suffering from drought conditions, tube wells and village development projects in Bangladesh and agricultural projects in the Philippines.

With the major focus on Iraq, Southern Baptist churches assembled about 35,000 food boxes (2.4 million pounds) at a cost of about $2 million. The boxes contained enough food to feed a family of five in Iraq for approximately one month, and the IMB shipped and distributed those boxes at a cost of $679,193.30.

“Hunger and relief ministries are dependent upon the financial resources provided by those who give through the Southern Baptist World Hunger Fund,” said Jim Brown, world hunger and relief ministries consultant for the IMB. “We are extremely grateful to those who sacrificed in giving to the fund, as well as to those who have given their time as volunteers. Their cooperative spirit allows Southern Baptists to be on the cutting edge in ministering to the many spiritual and physical needs in our world.”

Brown said that while a primary focus was on Iraq during the past year, IMB workers also participated in hunger and relief ministries involving the AIDS pandemic, nutritional projects, agricultural training, water and sanitation development and community development. In addition to providing immediate assistance in the aftermath of disasters, the IMB also helped with development projects to provide for long-term needs.

“Southern Baptist personnel look at issues like these not only as challenges, but also as tremendous opportunities to minister and share the love of God,” Brown said. “Often these opportunities provide unique and critical access to unreached people groups. As Jesus ministered to both the physical and spiritual needs of those He touched, IMB field personnel and volunteers do the same through the ministries they are involved in.”

Those who want to make contributions designated to the World Hunger Fund may do so in one of four ways:

— Through a local Southern Baptist church.

— Through a Baptist state convention.

— Through the International Mission Board, P.O. Box 6767, Richmond, VA 23230.

— Through the North American Mission Board, 4200 North Point Parkway, Alpharetta, GA 30022.

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