By / Sep 29

Almost half a billion people could be facing severe poverty due to the economic fallout of COVID-19.1All three intro stats taken from https://www.usglc.org/coronavirus/global-hunger/

Poverty is the leading cause of undernutrition, which is responsible for almost half of child deaths worldwide, and families around the world are now facing the harsh realities of chronic hunger—some for the very first time. One hundred-thirty million people are being pushed to the brink of starvation, with over three dozen countries predicted to experience devastating famines in the coming months.

Persistent hunger can drive people to desperation—especially mothers who are trying to care for and feed their children. Often, as a result of food shortages, vulnerable women are coerced into trafficking rings with the promise of consistent work. Once absorbed into this lifestyle, it is extremely difficult for them to find a safe way out.

Additionally, when an entire family’s funds are rerouted to focus on finding food for the day, other basic human necessities aren’t able to be prioritized. Families focused on survival rarely are able to pay for medical care for a chronic illness or sudden accident, often leaving the main breadwinner incapacitated and sinking the family further into poverty.

If the primary provider is unable to make money, the children are frequently then looked to for assistance if they are able-bodied. Sadly, many children in this situation are then exploited either for labor or pressured into child trafficking—sometimes without the parents’ knowledge and sometimes, as a final act of hopelessness, with their consent.

Obviously, the effects of chronic hunger are not isolated to empty bellies. Its impact is far-reaching and can be the first domino in a chain of devastation.

What are we doing about it?

Global Hunger Relief (GHR) is a reliable, sustainable initiative that Southern Baptists can use to make long-lasting differences in the lives of families at risk of starvation all over the world. With no administrative or overhead fees, Global Hunger Relief offers the unique guarantee that 100% of your gifts go directly to meeting hunger needs in North America and abroad.

Though some funding is used for immediate needs such as supplying food during a famine or natural disaster, most of the GHR projects are intentionally focused on establishing durable solutions to end global hunger one community at a time. These efforts include job skills training, clean water development, medical care, and human trafficking aftercare for survivors.

Vocational training classes help ensure that families don’t relapse into the cycle of generational poverty by equipping them with practical skills such as tailoring, soap-making, and livestock husbandry to help them either start businesses or enter the workforce.

Many diseases in agricultural or low-income regions are water-borne and can infect entire communities, so clean water projects are essential—if a family finally has access to nutritious meals but cooks their food with contaminated water, the food distribution becomes pointless.

As previously mentioned, medical care is often unattainable for families struggling with basic food provision, but in order to avoid child exploitation and other desperate “solutions,” medical care is essential to keeping parents healthy and able to work.

Finally, providing aftercare for human trafficking survivors helps ensure that those who have been subjected to trauma in order to support their families have the support necessary to recover and find other means of becoming self-sufficient.

As world food prices continue to rise due to the pandemic, you have the opportunity to help families struggling to keep food on the table discover new hope. On Sunday, Oct. 11—Global Hunger Sunday—your church, small group and family can change lives with your gifts. Download free posters, bulletin inserts, digital slides, devotionals, and more here, and commit to making a difference this October.

By / May 28

The 2019 SBC is almost here, so it’s with great pleasure that we introduce our seventh annual ERLC guide to food and fun at the convention. We want to bring you the best of what Birmingham has to offer so that you can make the most of your time at the annual meeting. For other guides, check out this episode of “SBC This Week” and visit Jared Cornutt’s blog.  

While you’re at the SBC, be sure to make plans to join the ERLC at these events:

Sexual Abuse and the Southern Baptist Convention:  Join the ERLC as we have a candid conversation on "Sexual Abuse and the Southern Baptist Convention" at the SBC Annual Meeting on Monday, June 10, at 9 p.m.. With everything that is happening around us, this is a conversation that Christians desperately need to have. Speakers will include Russell Moore, J.D. Greear, Beth Moore, Rachael Denhollander, and several others.

B21 Luncheon: The B21 Panel will take place on Tuesday, June 11, immediately following the morning session (approximately 11:30 a.m.). Register to hear from Russell Moore, J.D. Greear, Albert Mohler, Jen Wilkin, Dhati Lewis, and Danny Akin. Lunch and books will be provided to all paying attendees.

Food

Birmingham has a variety food options, including soul food, BBQ, Mexican, seafood, and burgers. With the help of a few friends over Twitter, we’ve compiled a list of options around the Birmingham area.

The Convention Center’s address is 2100 Richard Arrington Jr Blvd N. Birmingham, AL 35203. You can plug these restaurants into your phone to see what’s closest. We hope you enjoy!  

Bob Sykes BBQ | @SykesBBQ “Serving REAL Southern BBQ, Sides & Desserts. BBQ goes from the Pit to the Plate.” Address: 1724 9th Avenue North, Bessemer, AL 35020. Phone Number: (205) 426-1400.

The Bright Star | Serving “specialty Greek- style snapper and steak, signature seafood gumbo, luncheon specials, and famous pies.” Address: 304 19th Street North, Bessemer, AL 35020. Phone: (205) 426-1861.

Whataburger | @Whataburger “Circa-1950 fast-food chain for counter-serve burgers.” Address: 1601 Main Street, Fultondale, AL 35068. Phone number: (205) 849-2933.

El Barrio | “Inspired by multi-regional Mexican cuisine, urban design and locally sourced ingredients … Our fresh, inventive menu is brimming with bold flavors and regional classics.”  Address: 2211 2nd Ave N. Birmingham, AL 35203. Phone: 205.868.3737.

Eugene’s Hot Chicken | Located conveniently within walking distance of the Convention Center. Brick and mortar address: 2268 9th Ave North, Birmingham, AL, 35203. Phone: (205) 322-7555.  Check out their food Truck: @EugenesHotChicken.

Trattoria Centralem| “Popular, petite cafe serving pizzas with creative toppings & other Italian fare in a trendy space.” Address: 207A 20th Street North, Birmingham, AL 35203. Phone: 205-202-5612.

Pizitz Food Hall | This food court is only a mile away from the Convention Center, and you can find the following food options there: Alabama Biscuit Company, Busy Cheese Corner and Provisions, Eli’s Jerusalem Grill, Ethiopian Cuisine,  JuicedUp Essentials, Lichita’s Popsicles and Ice Cream, The Standard,  Waffle Works, and more. Address: 1821 Second Avenue North, Birmingham, Alabama 35203.

Niki’s West | Steak and Seafood Restaurant. Address: 233 Finley Ave. West, Birmingham, AL 35204. Phone: 205-252-5751.

Dreamland | “Local BBQ chain serving hickory-fired ribs, plates & sandwiches, plus wings & comfort sides.” Address: 1427 14th Ave S, Birmingham, AL 35205. Phone: (205) 933-2133.

Salem’s | (Breakfast and lunch only) Known for their Philly Cheese Steak. Address: 2913 18th Street South, Homewood, AL 35209. Phone: (205)-877-8797.

Sam’s Super Samwiches | (Breakfast and lunch only) Hotdogs, hamburgers, sandwiches. 2812 18th Street South, Homewood, AL 35209. Phone:  205-871-0046.

Little Donkey Mexican Restaurant | Born out of a “love of the vibrant flavors and brilliant combinations that traditional Mexican cooks have created for centuries.” To-go taco and fried chicken packs are available. Address: 2821 Central Ave #101, Homewood, AL 35209. Phone: (205) 703-7000.

Holler and Dash | @holleranddash Biscuit house serving breakfast and lunch daily from 7:00am to 2:00pm. Address: 2801 18th St. S.,Homewood, AL 35209. Phone: (205) 414-0999.

Saw’s BBQ | @sawsbbq “The original Saws Proclaimed Best BBQ in America by Men’s Journal’s try out the distinctive white barbecue sauce popular in northern Alabama.” Address: 1008 Oxmoor Rd, Homewood, AL 35209. Phone: (205) 879-1937.

Johnny’s Restaurant | Serve fresh, local foods. Open for lunch only Sunday- Friday. Address: 2902 18th St South Suite 200 Homewood, AL 35209. Phone: 205-802-2711.

Saw’s Juke Joint | “Self-proclaimed "upscale dive" serving Southern barbecue fare like pulled pork & chicken & waffles.” Address: 1115 Dunston Ave, Birmingham, AL 35213. Phone: (205) 745-3920.

Costa’s BBQ |“Finest ingredients combined with true Southern hospitality creates a unique and unforgettable dining experience.” 2 locations: 215 Lakeshore Pkwy, Birmingham, AL 35209. Phone: (205) 263-0145 or 613 Springville Rd, Birmingham, Alabama 35215. Phone: 205-853-9933.

Fancy’s on Fifth | Oysters and Gourmet Burgers. Address: 430 41st Street South, Avondale, AL 35222. Phone: (205) 777-3662 (Closed on Mondays).

Saw’s Soul Kitchen | “Humble restaurant with pig decor, specializing in Southern eats such as BBQ & soul food.” Address: 215 41st St S, Birmingham, AL 35222. Phone: (205) 591-1409.

Five | Gulf to Table. Address: 744 29th Street S., Birmingham, AL 35233 . Phone: (205) 868-3841 (Closed on Mondays). Taco Mama| It’s been called “The best taco joint in Alabama.” Address: 707 Richard Arrington Jr Blvd S #103, Birmingham, AL 35233. Phone: (205) 644-8355.

Jim and Nick’s | @JimNNicksBBQ Ribs. Pork. Chicken. Brisket. Sausage. Community BBQ. Address: 1660 Gadsden Hwy, Birmingham, AL 35235. Phone: (205) 547-3602.

Coffee and dessert  

Bizarre: The Coffee Bar | A spot for coffee, breakfast, sandwiches, salads, and more. Address: 217 22nd St N, Birmingham, AL 35203. Phone: (205) 201-5764.

Urban Standard | “Anchoring the Second Avenue North neighborhood, Urban Standard offers some of the most beautiful espresso-based beverages in town, as well as a creative menu of sandwiches, homemade soups, salads, their Thai noodle bowl, hummus plate and ‘hippie gumbo,’ among other offerings.” Address: 2320 Second Ave. N. Birmingham, AL 35203. Phone: (205) 250-8200.

O’Henry’s Coffees | “Relaxed local coffeehouse chain serving espresso drinks, breakfast, sandwiches & desserts.” Address: 1901 6th Ave N, Birmingham, AL 35203. Phone: (205) 323-1198. 

Octane Uptown | “From coffee to customer service and community events, Octane is dedicated to being a creative hub where connectivity can happen.” Address: 2221 Richard Arrington Jr Blvd N, Birmingham, AL 35203.

Revelator Coffee | “Bright, modern cafe serving craft coffee, local donuts & other bites amid industrial-chic decor.” Address: 1826 3rd Ave N Unit 101, Birmingham, AL 35203. Phone: (205) 224-5900.

FILTER-Coffee Parlor | “FILTER-Coffee Parlor goes beyond a typical American coffee shop and connects with our community by providing a place that allows patrons to engage with each other. Our focus is on offering high quality coffees, teas, specialty drinks, and seasonal eats within a space that nurtures our community and provides a place for all to enjoy – a space that fits their needs.” Address: 1927 11th Ave S, Birmingham, AL 35205. Phone: (205) 202-6422.

Cookie Fix | "Cookie Fix is a small batch cookie shop located in Homewood, Alabama. Visit us for fresh baked, Frozen Dough to Go, seasonal desserts, and more.” Address: 2854 18th St S, Homewood, AL 35209. Phone: (205) 582-2623. Big Spoon

Creamery | "Contemporary counter serve for traditional & seasonal ice cream scoops, sandwiches & sundaes.” Address: 4000 3rd Ave S #104, Birmingham, AL 35222. Phone: (205) 703-4712.

Lucy’s Coffee and Tea | “Coffee, tea, sandwiches & baked goods in a cozy American cafe with couches & colorful paintings.” Address: 2007 University Blvd, Birmingham, AL 35233. Phone: (205) 328-2007.

Red Cat Coffee House and Gourmet Coffee Roasters | “The Red Cat offers the Birmingham community a gathering place for connecting over great coffee and wholesome food.” Address: 2901 Second Ave. S., Pepper Place. Birmingham, AL 35233. Phone: (205) 616-8450.

The Church Street Story: Books, Coffee & Breakup Cookies | "Church Street Coffee & Books is an independent bookstore and coffee shop in Birmingham, Alabama. We’re the home of the famous Breakup Cookie (the best chocolate chip cookie you’ll ever have), we carry a fantastic book selection, and we proudly serve Octane Coffee, roasted locally in Homewood, Alabama.” Address: Mountain Brook’s Crestline Village at 81, Mountain Brook, AL 35213. Church Street. Phone: (205) 870-1117.

Things to do and see  

If you have extra time while in Birmingham, there are several things to do and see. Whether you want to visit a museum or spend your time outdoors, you’re sure to find something interesting. Here a few options:

Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum | “Contemporary, glass-enclosed setup for 1,200+ motorcycles & race cars with an adjacent road course.” Address: 6030 Barber Motorsports Pkwy, Leeds, Alabama 35094. Phone: (205) 699-7275.

Birmingham Civil Rights Institute | “A large interpretive museum and research center in Birmingham, Alabama that depicts the struggles of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and 1960s.” Address: 520 16th St N. Birmingham, AL 35203. Phone: (205) 328-9696.

McWane Science Center | “The McWane Science Center is a science museum and research archive located in downtown Birmingham, Alabama. The state-of-the-art science center, aquarium, and 280-seat IMAX Dome Theater is housed in the historic and refurbished Loveman's department store building.” Address: 3117, 200 19th St N. Birmingham, AL 35203. Phone: 205-714-8300.

Vulcan Park and Museum | “Statue symbolizing city's industries sits atop Red Mountain, surrounded by a park & a museum.” Address: 1701 Valley View Dr, Birmingham, AL 35209. Phone: (205) 933-1409.

Red Mountain Park | “A 1,500-acre public urban park that encloses a 4.5-mile-long section of Red Mountain, a prominent ridge that passes through Birmingham, Alabama. The woodland park contains closed mines and other artifacts of the city's industrial history.” Address: 2011 Frankfurt Dr, Birmingham, AL 35211. Phone: (205) 202-6043.

Birmingham Botanical Gardens | “The Birmingham Botanical Gardens is 67.5-acre of botanical gardens located adjacent to Lane Park at the southern foot of Red Mountain.” Address: 2612 Lane Park Rd. Birmingham, AL 35223. Phone: 205-414-3950.

Birmingham Zoo | “A zoological park that opened in 1955. It is the largest zoo in Alabama. The 122-acre zoo is home to almost 800 animals representing over 200 species, including many endangered species from six continents. Address: 2630 Cahaba Rd. Birmingham, AL 35223. Phone: 205-879-0409.

Regions Field | “A minor league baseball park in the Southside community of Birmingham. It is the home field for the Birmingham Barons of the Southern League.” Address: 1401 1st Ave S. Birmingham, AL 35233. Phone: (205) 988-3200.

Top Golf | @Topgolf “Sprawling entertainment venue with a high-tech driving range.” Address: 1111 24th St. N. Birmingham, AL 35234. Phone: (205) 847-5757.

By / Dec 30

After 400 years of bitter slavery to Egypt, God finally delivered his people. The Israelites found themselves on the other side of the Red Sea and in a desert. Three days later, God responded to their complaint for water by turning the bitter waters of Marah sweet. Fifty days into their journey, likely just running out of provisions, they complained again:

The whole congregation of the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, and the people of Israel said to them, “Would that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger” (Exod. 16:2-3).

When presented with the choice of food or God in the desert, they chose food. Their assumption is what many in our day proclaim they believe through their practice: food, specifically good food, sustains us, not God. Food ensures long life, not God.

But despite the Israelite’s misplaced faith, God responds in mercy by raining down bread from heaven, six days a week, for 40 years: “Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Behold, I am about to rain bread from heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in my law or not’” (Exod. 16:4).

More insight is given in Deuteronomy 8:3, “[God] humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.”

Trusting God with our daily bread

Can you see the purposes of God in the above verse? Why did he let them be hungry? Why did he feed them with an unknown substance? He did it for this purpose: “To make them know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

The unfamiliarity of the food brought a need to trust the giver of the food. How could they know if it was safe to eat after sitting on the ground? If it was contaminated with disease from the livestock around them? If the ingredients in it would be good for their bodies? Would it poison them? Would it be filling enough? Their questions probably remained unanswered. Trusting in the person of God was all they had. He alone had the power over their lives, not their food.

Jesus, the True Israel, also found himself in a wilderness. He went without food longer than any doctor would recommend. And his hunger on the 41st day of fasting was met with Satan’s suggestion to make bread for himself. Jesus quotes Deuteronomy 8:3 in response, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

Jesus’ fasting in the wilderness is a reminder that obedience to God is more important and can be more life-giving than a healthy and well balanced diet. Listening to the Word of God will carry more physical sustenance than all the best foods in the world if God ordains it. God’s Word ought to be of higher value than food.

Making knowledge of the Word a priority

Our world is full of information about food. Never before have we been so bombarded with the knowledge of what is in our food and what we ought to eat or not eat. There are thousands of options to make up for the nutrients we might be missing from the foods we do eat. But choosing a knowledge of food over a knowledge of the Word of God is a mistake. In a world marred by the threat of cancer, new diseases and painful ailments, it is tempting to look to right eating choices to sustain us, but the Bible is clear that is not the answer. God alone gives and sustains life. Knowing and obeying his Word is far better for our overall health—spiritual, and even physical—than the most researched, healthy and natural diet plan.

I am not advocating irresponsible and gluttonous eating, but rather an elevation of the Word of God in a world full of information. Christian, if you spend more time growing in a knowledge of food and diet plans than growing in a knowledge of the word of God, something is wrong—that’s a red flag alerting you to misplaced trust. God alone preserves the health of our bodies. We would do well to remember the Israelites in the wilderness. They had an “unbalanced diet” for 40 years, made primarily of one food: manna. They did not have a healthy mix of all the food groups, but God sustained them nonetheless.

What does this mean today?

How can we apply this as we head into the new year? We can exercise the same faith. What daily bread has God provided for you today? There are times God may allow the privilege to purchase organic foods, and times when budget does not allow it. Sometimes we have the privilege to choose what we eat, other times we may be in another country eating foods we’re unsure of. Occasionally a friend may bring fast food from a restaurant we don’t prefer. Is our hope in avoiding the preservatives in food? Or is our hope in God? Is our hope in knowing exactly what is in our food? Or is it in the sovereignty of God and his provision for the day?

Whatever circumstances you face, put your hope in the Lord God Almighty. He alone holds your atoms together, keeps your heart beating, and your lungs steadily taking in oxygen. You do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. The question is, do you know his Word? Have you read every word of the scriptures? Why not make your next health goal to know and treasure all 66 books of his written Word?

This post originally appeared as part of a series on Kelly’s blog.

By / Oct 9

All of us have encountered people who do not have the basic necessities of life. To see someone without food to eat and ignore their situation goes against who we claim to be as God’s people. We know that. So, what do we do to care for the hungry men, women and children in our midst? As I have tried to answer this question over the years, I have learned a priceless lesson about dumb duplication.

Many of us have a right desire to address hunger in our communities. A typical response is to create a food pantry, but is it really the best course of action in all situations? To stock a closet full of basic food necessities will cost a couple hundred dollars to several thousand, and replenishing supplies could be an ongoing expense of several hundred dollars per month.

Do we need to duplicate something that already exists? It is likely that other ministries, non-profits or government agencies in your city already provide food for people in emergency situations. Whether these services are Christian ministries or government offerings, we can lean on these groups to care for people’s needs without expending a ton of resources to start something new.

Become a source of hope and information

By tapping into these services, you can focus your church’s resources on meeting unaddressed needs in your community. For example, you could use that money to care for widows or unwed mothers. We must be wise with the resources God has placed under our care, and duplicating existing relief efforts is not the epitome of wisdom.

This principle of avoiding duplication applies to all areas of mercy ministry. Your church doesn’t have to own every ministry that is needed in your community. You are responsible to help people, including connecting them to existing avenues of relief in emergency situations.

Whether you are deciding if your church will start a food pantry, clothes closet, mentoring program for neglected children or any other compassion ministry, a key step is to determine the existing services in your community. If your church becomes a source of information referring people to existing services, your church will conserve resources that could be vital to other ministry opportunities.

Taking this approach would allow you to help through existing opportunities for relief as well as addressing neglected areas of need in your community. So, remember to avoid dumb duplication and find existing ways to meet people’s needs before starting something new.

Rather than duplicating, explore and utilize existing ways to meet people’s needs, and redirect your church’s resources to other neglected areas of need.

This was originally published at sendnetwork.com.