As a young pastor I observed a rather interesting phenomenon when I would visit in the homes of many of my senior adults—especially those who grew up during the Great Depression. Most often when I would enter the home I would be greeted with the question, “Have you had anything to eat today?”or “Can I get you something to eat?” Of course not wanting to be seen as rude or ungrateful I would often share a bite to eat with them. It was part of my church growth plan—I was “growing” right along with the church!
These persistent encounters piqued my imagination so one day I asked one of my trusted friends and mentors why this kept happening over and over again. With a gentle smile and a wise tone I was instructed in the patterns of the Great Depression. During the Great Depression far too many people ran out of food and lived much of the time hungry. A growling stomach became a daily reality for far too many people, so those who had food to share asked everyone who entered their home—“Have you had something to eat today?”
This simple kind inquiry may seem out of place in our apparent day of plenty, but the harsh reality remains that many people all around us live day to day worrying about the next meal. Social workers call this plight “food insecurity” but for the average person we call it poverty. Yes, Jesus warned us that we would always have the poor among us, but his insight did not suggest that we should simply embrace this reality as an acceptable norm.
The early people of the “Way” stood out in the ancient world by their acts of generosity and kindness. In the book of Acts you find the people instinctively sharing the food with one another in love.
James, the brother of Jesus, noted in his thoughtful practical letter that true faith revealed itself in actions saying:
Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. (James 2:15-17 NIV)
One of the great challenges we face as believers in El Paso is our response to hunger—both spiritual and physical. Over 200,000 people in our neighborhoods live with the challenges of “food insecurity” and it has been reported that two out of three of our city’s children show up to school hungry.
During the school year, our local schools address this need by feeding the children a filling breakfast and lunch, but the question our Missions committee wrestled with recently is “what happens during the summer?”
Sadly, this is not a problem faced only on the border. Texas ranks near the top in the nation for hungry children.
In answer to this question emerged the “Spiritual and Nutritional Summer” ministry. For $40, we discovered that in partnership with the local food bank, that we can help make sure the children of our neighborhood have breakfast and lunch throughout the summer months. On April 29th, you will have the opportunity to stand in the gap for these children by donating $40 toward this noble cause. The question remains—“Who will?”