Issue Analysis: World Hunger Relief

By Daniel J. Hurst
Oct 9, 2013

World hunger is an issue that affects millions of people on both an international and domestic scale, irrespective of geography or ethnicity. According to the United Nations World Food Programme, 1 in 8 people in the world do not get enough food to lead an active and healthy life, which equates to over 800 million worldwide. This means that hunger and malnutrition are the greatest threats to global health—more so than even AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined.

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With the world hunger crisis at such an alarming level, why should Southern Baptists, and Christians in general, care about this food shortage? Southern Baptists ought to care about the hunger crisis in the world because of the following biblical principles:

• Compassion (Mark 8:2-3)
• Summons to help the poor (Ps. 41:1; Prov. 14:31, 21:13, 28:27)
• Loving our neighbors as we love ourselves (Matt. 22:34-40)

Compassion for the undernourished, our summons to help the poor, and loving our neighbor as our own self are interrelated. Scripture implores Christians to respond to the issue of hunger with compassion as we recognize that concern for spiritual nourishment is not in and of itself sufficient; we must also be concerned for bodily nourishment. When we put a person’s material and nutritional needs within scope of our concern, the Scriptures and Christian history bear witness that a person’s material needs often serve as a vehicle to their most pressing spiritual need—the true bread from heaven, Jesus Christ (John 6:32).

After teaching spiritual truths to a great multitude for several days, Jesus called his disciples to himself and said, “I have compassion on the crowd, because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And if I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way. And some of them have come from far away”.

Through the Southern Baptist Convention’s Global Hunger Relief (formerly the World Hunger Fund), Southern Baptists have been involved in providing much-needed food aid to millions across the globe. In the wake of the January 2010 earthquake that struck Port-au-Prince, an estimated 3 million Haitians found themselves in desperate need. A few months later in August 2010, devastating floods in Pakistan left some 15 million people destitute and in need of assistance.

“The magnitude of these disasters staggers the imagination. Families are wrestling with life and death issues on a daily basis,” said Jeff Palmer, director of Baptist Global Response, in response to these two disasters.
In rural China, access to a safe and clean water supply can be a challenge for the poor.

Water polluted by microorganisms that can cause persistent diarrhea leading to severe dehydration kills 30,000 children each year. Using resources provided by Global Hunger Relief, a small factory was started in 2009 in China to produce ceramic water filters—a simple, cost-effective, and proven method of purifying water to make it suitable for drinking and cooking. 7,000 filters were produced and sold in the first year of production with plans to increase production each subsequent year.

At present, Global Hunger Relief is involved in the Syrian crisis which has forced thousands of families from their homes. Some of the refugees, seeking shelter in a neighboring country, are partnering with churches there to receive assistance. In the country of asylum where adequate food can be in short supply, these partner churches are providing refugee families with food vouchers provided by Global Hunger Relief that can be redeemed in local markets for food and hygiene items.

It is only through the generous donations of Southern Baptists that Global Hunger Relief is able to respond in a timely manner to these and similar hunger needs all over the world. While we applaud the assistance provided by governmental agencies and private organizations, we also recognize that they are only part of the solution and often are not as effective as Christian organizations and missionaries.

Being educated about the need in the world and what is being done to combat hunger, regular prayer and fasting, and generous giving to support the fight against world hunger are important steps as we seek to fight against the world’s foremost cause of death.

For Christians, active concern for those suffering from hunger confirms the reality of God in our lives. Men will glorify our Father in heaven not only because of what we say, but because our lights are shining and they have seen our good deeds (Matt 5:16).

Be sure to check out our Hunger page for additional resources.

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