This Sunday, churches across the nation will talk about the global hunger crisis, and many will respond by taking offerings for Global Hunger Relief or other food ministries in their local communities. Yet, the needs for the 800 million in the world can’t be solved in one day each year. Church leaders must work to better understand this great need comprehensively. In order to combat this global hunger crisis, pastors and ministry leaders must start small. Here are a few ways you can do just that:
- Know your church family. You may not be called to feed the street children of Kenya. Yet, without a doubt, you are called to serve your church community. Thirteen percent of households in the United States—15.8 million households—are food insecure according to one of the largest scale hunger studies. It’s very likely that individuals and families within your church body have to make weekly decisions about their abilities to purchase food or pay bills.
- Know the communities most at risk. Senior adults, rural, African-American and Latino communities are at greater risk of food insecurity. If these segments of the population aren’t represented in your church, then they will be in your neighborhood, city or state. Use this map from Feeding America to look at statistics specific to your county or congressional district.
- Talk with your small group. Global Hunger Relief provides this free small group discussion guide that walks through some of the scriptures that focus on serving those in need. Talking about the needs of the poor can garner a variety of responses and emotions based on an individual’s experience. Be open about those responses, and work through them with your brothers and sisters, using Scripture as your guide.
- Talk with your children and your family. Begin talking about poverty, hunger and other aspects of suffering when your children are young. These conversations will naturally lead to conversation about proper responses for your family. Here’s a helpful guide for having those conversations with younger children.
- Give something. Decide to give a small amount, either one time or on a regular basis, to those who don’t have enough to eat. As the months ahead provide opportunity for so many to gather around tables with plenty, let’s remember those who are without and give.
The issue of hunger is often hidden inside homes, with those affected feeling a sense of shame. As a church or small group leader, it is part of our responsibility to seek to identify those needs around us and serve those most at risk. I urge you to start these important conversations this weekend with Global Hunger Sunday and continue to implement its message and work in small ways in the year ahead.