I like to pick a fight with hunger, and sometimes people. We’re not supposed to be confrontational, but sometimes it happens because I say REALLY unpopular things. For instance, sometimes at workshops or conferences I blame everyone in the room for the 821 Million chronically malnourished [a] people in our world. You see, the earth produces more than enough food. The experts say we already grow enough food to feed 10 Billion people and there is less than 8 Billion people on earth! [b] The staggering number of 1 in 9 people who are chronically malnourished is clearly not a production problem, but a passion problem. The reality is that we’re all infinitesimally responsible for this scourge that causes our brothers and sisters around the world to suffer.
Why do I say we’re all responsible in a tiny way for the chronic malnourishment of 821 Million people? I see two very specific reasons and they both come down to our interaction with God. One has to do with how we treat each other and the other has to do with why we care about other people suffering.
First, because Jesus asked us to love our neighbor. Before the gospels record Jesus telling parables to answer questions like, “who is my neighbor?” It was recorded in the Hebrew bible [c] that you should love your neighbor. I think there is a better word to be used here than ‘neighbor.’ I think we can easily substitute ‘human family.’ Our scripture tells us we’re created in God’s image and we all are descendants of Adam and Eve. The basic science lessons we’re taught in middle school makes it clear that we’re all made up a different combination of the same basic building blocks. Each of us is a different arrangement of carbon, water, and some additional elements for good measure. Don’t believe me? Check out websites like 23andMe.com or other genetic testing ancestry services and you’ll find that they can pretty much tell you who your fifth cousin is even if they live on a different continent. We’re all related. Our brothers and sisters suffer because we’ve chosen to not live in community with our human family as Christ asked.
The second reason I say we’re all to blame is that we fail to understand how God measures hunger. If we’re trying to numerically count our measuring units are just flat-wrong. The human ability to perform complicated math including calculate probability, measure using geometry, solve for unknowns using algebra, and other more complicated tasks is truly a gift from God. However, God doesn’t use that type of math. Our God is the God of Abraham who counts by the stars in the sky and the specs of dust on the earth to illustrate scale and scope [d]. Our God is the beginning and the end and therefore is not bound by our math rules. These are numbers that are so large that we struggle to imagine how large they are. I don’t point this out to make us feel small or ignorant, but that if we’re to understand why ending hunger is important we must understand why it’s important to God.
I believe God measures hunger in the binary format. Hope or Hopeless. People are either without hope that they will ever be able live a worry-free life about their next meal, or they live in hope-filled abundance and have to decided what to eat versus worry if they will eat. Obviously, hope doesn’t feed people. Hope is an intangible thing and not physical food. Those of us who live in abundance must share food with people in need and work to help them feed themselves in the future. We need to give hope to people who don’t know they need help, to people who don’t feel like they deserve help, and people who are told they aren’t worthy of help. That type of hope-restoring help is what we call grace. The same grace that God offers when seeking out us. The same grace when God seeks out those who have never heard of Jesus, don’t think they are worthy of God’s love, or are told that they are not worthy of receiving God’s love.
Grace is amazing stuff. It’s free. You can’t keep it or sell it. It’s not a commodity. However, you can make more! We all can make hope for hungry people by creating grace. John Wesley, one of the founders of the Methodist Movement, called the actions to make grace, “The Means of Grace,” and part of the lifestyle of the early Methodists was to practice making grace. You can as well. There is a movement of individuals working to end hunger via the means of grace at FastPrayGive.org.
They’ve made it easy, go to FastPrayGive.org and sign up. Its and invitation to fast one meal per week, pray during that time and ask God to help us end hunger, and then make a monthly micro-donation ($8) to grow the movement and feed one person who is chronically malnourished. Works of piety (prayer and fasting) and Mercy (generous giving) helps to make better disciples who care about their neighbors!
As we work to end hunger by the means of grace we can count ourselves amongst those who are working to end hunger and one step closer to loving God and our neighbor as ourselves.
[a] Food and Agriculture Organization State of Food Security and Nutrition report 2019 – http://www.fao.org/state-of-food-security-nutrition/en/
[b] Holt-Giménez, Eric & Shattuck, Annie & Altieri, Miguel & Herren, Hans & Gliessman, Steve. (2012). We Already Grow Enough Food for 10 Billion People … and Still Can’t End Hunger. Journal of Sustainable Agriculture
[c] Leviticus 19:18 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Leviticus+19%3A18&version=NRSV
[d] Genesis 15:5 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+15%3A5&version=NRSV
Genesis 22:17 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+22%3A17&version=NRSV
Genesis 26:4 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+26%3A4&version=NRSV