By / Nov 22

Ten years ago, a dozen ministers and local church members in Lebanon, Tennessee, decided to investigate what they had been told—that a small homeless community was growing in their county. On a winter day, they went into the “woods” of Lebanon behind one of the busiest thoroughfares and found evidences of a homeless camp, including tents, groceries, and diapers. Troubled and burdened by this discovery, the small group decided on one simple goal: No one would freeze to death in Wilson County. 

A homeless ministry is born 

This goal ultimately led to the formation of Compassionate Hands, a ministry to the homeless population with a vision “that the Wilson County community of faith be Christ’s hands and feet to our neighbors in need.” 

For over 10 years, Wilson County has been buzzing with new growth—economic and population—creating wonderful opportunities and experiences for its people. The county sits just over 150,000 in its 2021 population, after growing by 35,000 people in the last decade. However, such growth has created an unintended consequence.

As property values rise and rent payments go up, many families and individuals are having trouble finding or keeping affordable housing. In addition, as word spreads about the job creation happening in Middle Tennessee, people from all over the country have arrived on a search for opportunity, but without much of a plan. These factors, along with the inescapable difficulties of life, have left a portion of the Tennessee county’s population without a home. 

The main thrust of Compassionate Hands is to provide temporary shelter for men and women in Wilson County every night in the winter months. A large network of volunteers from churches of all sizes keeps the system running each night. Each year the system has looked a little different, and COVID presented immense challenges, yet CH persevered. 

Dinner is provided for those who arrive and after a short vetting process, these individuals are taken to different host sites across the county. A rotating group of churches offer their facilities to house the men and women. The homeless are provided a safe and warm place to sleep, as well as a warm breakfast. Laundry service and the ability to take a shower are also available. In the morning, a bus takes the individuals to various places across the county and leaves them with a sack lunch. 

The coordination among so many churches and volunteers requires significant oversight. John Grant has been serving as the executive director of Compassionate Hands since 2018. Grant was a part of that original group who visited the homeless camp in 2013. He was the first full-time staff member for Compassionate Hands and has grown the team to eight members at present. In addition to their winter housing, CH now has a Center for Hope and Renewal that stays open all year to feed individuals, lead faith-building classes, and provide a place for showers and laundry.

Previously serving at a local church, Grant was both sad to leave church ministry, but also eager to begin with CH, citing his desire to serve the community, his network of friends at churches and his personal giftings. 

“I think it was a call from God. This was a ‘John Grant’ shaped role,” he said.

Misconceptions about the homeless

All of those involved in the ministry are quick to point out misconceptions about the homeless. They regularly and lovingly refer to them as their “homeless friends.” Many of those in need who have come to Compassionate Hands have full-time jobs and cars. Many are locals who grew up in the same community and have fallen on hard times. 

In Grant’s experience, he estimates that “one third have an addiction. One third have mental illness, and a third have had bad luck.”  

“I was scared and concerned about inviting homeless people into our church building,” Grant said describing his church’s first evenings with Compassionate Hands. “What I’ve learned is that the homeless people were also scared of us and skeptical of churches. They’re spending the night with strangers too. Homeless people are really not that different from you and me.”

“The Good Samaritan is one of our key stories,” Grant said, referencing the story found in Luke 10. “We think Jesus is bringing us people who are battered and bruised by life.”

Dawn Bradford has served with the ministry for many years and currently sits on its board of directors. Bradford said Compassionate Hands has “absolutely changed my life.” 

“Yes, it’s inconvenient and sometimes a little uncomfortable, but it’s not about me, it’s about living out the biblical principle of thinking of others before your own needs,” said Bradford.  

John Ashman is a volunteer with Compassionate Hands, along with his wife Bonnie. Their experience serving has made a profound impact on their lives. 

“Often when we see homeless people on the street, we may see them as lazy, dirty, and not worthy of respect. But when we sit by them during the evening or morning and talk with them about their lives, we see that they are usually people who have had a some bad breaks,” Ashman said. 

One of the most emotional moments for Ashman came one Christmas. 

“Due to the generosity of our church members, we were able to put together backpacks with a number of food items, personal care products and some warm hats and gloves,” Ashman said. “Church members wrapped the items, so that on Christmas morning, they were able to open the presents, just as if they were living with their families. One man said ‘It’s been a long time since anybody gave me a Christmas present.’”

Every year, the ministry has experienced growth. At this time, over 40 churches from 16 faith traditions had partnered together through Compassionate Hands, providing over 12,000 beds and 13,000 meals to over 400 men and women. Over 20 individuals or families have been able to transition into full-time housing with assistance from CH. This remarkable ministry is modeling for other Christians what it looks like to meet needs, foster unity, and change lives in your community—with no signs of slowing down. 

By / Jun 25

I met Sarah* when she was seven months pregnant. She was homeless, young, and naive, and her intellectual disabilities were obvious, but so was her affection for the tiny baby girl in her belly, the one she and her on-again, off-again boyfriend were determined to keep. 

The circumstances made it obvious to most that she could not raise a baby on her own. She had no stable place to live, no family support, and no way of knowing what would be required of her. But for a young woman who had nothing else, there in the safety of her womb grew the only evidence she had that she was worth something; she believed her hopes of keeping her boyfriend and her dignity depended on keeping her baby.  

“Well, we will help you,” was all I knew to say, but I had no idea what it would mean.

Just under two years after I met her, this young homeless woman, Sarah, would have a new title: my daughter’s birth mother. 

Getting closer to the story

It’s easy to look at situations like Sarah’s, and the hundreds—maybe thousands—of other examples just like hers in my own hometown alone and dismiss them. 

She won’t hold down a job, she’d rather live off the system

Child Protective Services just needs to intervene and take that baby. 

You can’t help people who won’t help themselves.

I’ve heard each one of those statements over the last two years, from Christians and non-Christians alike. In the most frustrating moments, I’ve been tempted to believe them myself. But there is something that makes it nearly impossible to dismiss another human being with sweeping generalizations: proximity. Get near the broken and you can no longer ignore the reason she is broken.

Sarah’s story began more than a generation back, when poverty and addiction crept into her family line. By the time she was born, parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles and siblings had all been affected by the cyclical hopelessness of drugs and desperation. Sarah was taken from her own family as a near-starving toddler—herself an innocent victim of the CPS just needs to take the baby mentality. Authorities did take her, but with a shortage of suitable homes to send her to, the situation changed but did not improve. She was eventually placed with family, and her exploitation and abuse began before she entered second grade. Her primary perpetrator, a family member, was put in jail, but not before forever changing the narrative of Sarah’s life. At eight years old, Sarah had formed no safe attachments, experienced starvation, and had been repeatedly raped. The damage of eight years of trauma on her young brain was done.    

By the time I met Sarah, she had been living “the street life” for five years—sometimes sleeping on an acquaintance’s couch and sometimes under a bridge. She had an eighth grade education and a slew of diagnosed disabilities and mental illness. She used her body the way people who were supposed to protect her showed her how to use it much of her childhood: as a credit card to purchase affection, shelter, or food.

Everything was against her. And none of it was her fault. 

We know from numerous studies that childhood trauma has damaging effects on the brain’s development. Science tells us that trauma leads to “dysregulation of the amygdala, ventral affective processing, and reward circuits,” all big words with a simple explanation: trauma changes everything. In small doses and with safe people to process, virtually all human beings can cope with trauma. But repeated, violent, and ignored abuse in a child is not something she can cope with, and it changes brain chemistry for a lifetime. What that looks like for Sarah today is an inability to discern safe from unsafe people, little capacity to comprehend consequences, and crippling anxiety and depression.

But trauma does not change the image of God woven into Sarah. 

The imago Dei

As frustrating and trying as it can be to love and serve and stay consistent for someone who does not understand—nor can she return—any of those things; who makes the same poor decisions again and again; seeing Sarah as a woman created in the image of God demands from us the kind of love we cannot manufacture on our own. It’s steadfast and unconditional, with no guarantees about when or if it will ever produce any fruit. It isn’t allowed to dismiss her with trite sentiments like she won’t hold down a job because it understands and has genuine compassion for the fact that she can’t. 

When we told Sarah that we would help her, we had no idea it would be through foster care and adoption. We had three young children at home, one with significant special needs. Our plate felt full. But when CPS came to take her baby, she called and asked us for help. 

Every night when we put this sweet girl down for bed, we thank God she did.

As it became clear after several months that Sarah would not be able to safely take care of her baby, she signed her parental rights over to us, asking only one question as she did: “Will my baby know who I am?” 

Through tears I told Sarah, “Yes, of course she will. You’re always going to be her mom, too, Sarah.” 

Like many sentiments, this is harder to live out than it was to say. There are missed visits and pushed boundaries. There’s the very real concern that Sarah’s life is not a safe one to expose her daughter to, but also the knowledge that seeing her daughter is so good for Sarah’s heart. We do not know how to walk out an open adoption perfectly. We only know a perfect Savior who welcomes every chance we ask him to help us (James 1:5). 

We cannot fix what Sarah’s past took from her, and we are not naive about how difficult it is for a brain and a heart as damaged as hers to heal, and then change. We believe with all our heart that if God can raise the dead, then there is nothing too big for Him to redeem. But if we are honest, we don’t know what redemption looks like for Sarah. 

I don’t know if we can expect a miracle—which is what it would take for her—this side of heaven. The damage is irreparable, bearing the tangible scars of so much sin. But, as followers of Christ, we don’t sit in what we do not know and let it excuse our inaction. Sarah needs a miracle, and we cannot do that for her. But she also needs clothes, sometimes food, coffee cards, help filling out government paperwork, and supernatural patience to do it all again when they are lost or stolen or neglected. And those are things we can do

Sarah, and everyone created with the imago Dei—which is everyone—need people to get close to them, and people who believe in miracles, but who tangibly love them while they wait for one.  

*names have been changed for privacy

By / Jul 19

John Barry’s Jesus' Economy is a recent release discussing the need for Christians to be involved in holistic poverty alleviation efforts. Barry makes the argument that Christians should be active not only in helping to meet the spiritual needs of people through gospel sharing, but also in working to meet their physical needs and empowering them to be self-sufficient. Barry is the CEO of a Christian nonprofit after which the book is named. Jesus’ Economy was an inspirational, thought-provoking read and included practical tips for Christians seeking to address poverty. Though there were some significant weaknesses to the book, it is clear that Barry’s desire is to be gospel-centered in his approach to poverty alleviation. 


Barry’s contribution to this discussion is truly stirring and intriguing. His experience working with people facing many forms of poverty provided readers with some very moving anecdotes. He has spent a fair amount of time working in impoverished areas both in the United States, such as with homeless shelters, and abroad, specifically in impoverished areas of India. His biblical literacy is well utilized to get people thinking about how Jesus related to the impoverished and how that should inform us today. With this, he clearly strives to keep his approach gospel-centered, modeled after the ministry of Jesus and concerned about the whole person. 

A tendency among some Christian social justice proponents is to lose the message of the gospel and the need for spiritual salvation in humanitarian efforts, but Barry is faithful to fight against that pull. He also offers wisdom from research and experience as to how to effectively help the poor, such as through his knowledge of microloans and their effectiveness, especially emphasizing the need for the creation of jobs. Part four of the book, in particular, includes excellent advice for individual Christians on topics including but not limited to evaluating nonprofits to support and interacting well with the homeless community. These are some clear strengths of Jesus’ Economy.


One weakness of this book is Barry’s oversimplification of some very complicated issues. There is room for graciousness here in recognizing that he was taking on a broad topic that could really be (and has been) broken up in more narrowly focused books. However, if the aim here was (as it seems) to give a wide overview and a handbook-style guide to the issues of poverty, then more care should have been given to addressing the more difficult and controversial subtopics. 

Two examples are the author’s handling of the topic of capitalism and that of spiritual gifts. These are significant auxiliary topics that come up when discussing approaches to physical poverty alleviation. At points, Barry discusses Western ideas of business and capitalism in ways that come across as critical, but not constructive. For example, he points out that it is the "preference on business trips to set up meetings with the wealthy instead of the impoverished," (Barry 74).

Regarding spiritual gifts, Barry makes bold continuationist statements without making much of an argument for such a view, implying that miraculous healings are an essential part of ministry among the poor. Whether or not such a concept is true, the tone of the text could leave some readers who are either cessationists or simply undecided in their view feeling belittled or confused.

Another weakness of this book was the initial argument for why Christians should be involved in physical poverty alleviation efforts. As someone who agrees that this should be the case, I was eager to hear a well-formulated argument from Scripture, the author’s experience, and reason, yet I was left wanting more. I was inspired, but not convinced. 

Instead of being persuaded or even just affirmed in my view, there was language used that could make one uncomfortable. The author makes statements that the good news of the gospel is “full spiritual and physical renewal,” (7). He speaks of empowering people to “realize their dreams” and Christians “bringing” the Kingdom of God (10, 32). This language is potentially dangerous. It carries some social-gospel and perhaps prosperity-gospel tones that it seems the author does not intend. The context of such statements is within explaining why physical and spiritual poverty ought to be addressed in tandem, but it’s not enough. Readers are left with some phrases that could be troubling to the more theologically minded, and misleading to those who are less so. 

Overall, Barry’s work is a fair contribution to the discussion of poverty alleviation among Christians. His work with Jesus’ Economy sounds worthy of support, and his advice to Christians seeking to serve discerningly the impoverished is generally helpful. Barry’s passion for the cause of the gospel is clear, and we certainly need more voices like his in these conversations. Yet, the shortcomings of this book leave me hesitant to recommend it without some of these several important caveats. 

By / Jan 23

Today, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced a religious liberty waiver for South Carolina’s faith-based organizations. The significance of this action is twofold; first it provides relief for faith-based organizations in South Carolina. Second, it lays the groundwork for other states to apply for this waiver, and protect faith-based organizations from losing their federal funding simply because they operate with religious principles and convictions.

Last year, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster requested a waiver based on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), from an Obama-era regulation that applies to HHS grantees. Foster care funding flows through the state, and one particular South Carolina organization, Miracle Hill Ministries, was in danger of losing their funding and their license because of the regulation.

Miracle Hill is a Christian organization that provides an enormous amount of services and resources to the most vulnerable people in South Carolina. A small sampling of their work includes: providing shelter for 3,000 homeless people, leading two recovery programs, and running transitional housing programs. Their most controversation work over the past year was providing foster care recruitment and placement for children in need of safe and loving families.

For almost 30 years, Miracle Hill served all foster children of any race, nationality, religious belief, sex, disability, or political belief. They are responsible for finding good placements 15 percent of the over 4,500 children in the South Carolina foster care system.

Last year, the South Carolina Department of Social Services (SCDSS) began interpreting the Obama-era regulation to mean that Miracle Hill would not have the freedom to provide those services, simply because they operate their organization with faith-based convictions. SCDSS informed Miracle Hill that its license was in jeopardy of being revoked.

Miracle Hill is clear that its sincerely held religious beliefs are what motivate their work in caring for the needy and vulnerable. They view their foster care services as direct obedience to the biblical directive to care for vulnerable children.

All institutions should have an equal seat at the table, and many faith-based organizations have made it clear that they are more than willing to provide referrals to other placement organizations.

The need for safe and loving families is continuing to increase, as the opioid crisis continues to cause an increase in children being placed into foster care. Currently, approximately 442,995 children are in the the U.S. foster care system. Between 2012 and 2016, the number of children in foster care increased from 397,600 to 437,500. According to the U.S. Health and Human Services, many in the child welfare community can trace this increase to parental substance use – including prescription drugs, illicit drugs, and alcohol, but especially opioids. The government should not be in the business of penalizing organizations for taking care of the hundreds of thousands of children.

The ERLC welcomes this action by HHS to protect the ability of faith-based child welfare providers to continue caring for vulnerable children. The significance of this waiver must not be lost. Faith-based organizations are a vital part of the community of care our country needs to serve children in crisis. These child welfare providers should not fear losing their licenses simply because of their deeply held religious convictions.

The ERLC is grateful for the leadership of Gov. McMaster and HHS officials for issuing this waiver as an example of their commitment to religious freedom. Every child deserves a safe, loving, and forever home, and it is good news that all organizations in South Carolina can continue their good work.

By / Jan 11

In just 10 days, a Colorado Springs-based nonprofit built a community space for the dozen formerly homeless families they house. The rapid raising of a 3,100-square foot building––modeled after the TV show “Extreme Makeover”––was only half of the story. Where construction crews poured a new foundation formerly sat two methamphetamine houses.

“Two weeks ago, this was a condemned meth house,” Dream Centers board chairman and New Life Church Pastor Brady Boyd tweeted on Oct. 15, 2018. “Today it is a place of hope and healing in our city. Huge thanks to the 300+ volunteers who helped make this Dream Center a reality.”

Dream Centers is a nonprofit founded in 2011 by New Life Church and other local church leaders that oversees two initiatives in the Pikes Peak region. Mary’s Home houses homeless mothers and their children, providing them with resources to get them back on their feet. The second project, the women’s clinic, offers free and holistic gynecological healthcare for women in the region––from medical care to mental health counseling.

As Mary’s Home reached capacity, leadership observed nearby property that seemed ideal––except for the fact that it housed two meth houses.

“Why can’t we redeem that land?” Dream Centers Chief Development Officer Yvette Maher remembered thinking. After three long years of prayer and pushing the property owner to sell, Dream Centers purchased the land through the support of local churches and foundations. For Maher, the new foundation for their community building was symbolic.

“We’re not building onto a foundation that used to be laden with sadness and grief and death, but truly a new foundation was poured––redeeming not only the land, but also rebuilding the future,” she said in an interview with the ERLC. “The Lord has literally brought us into the land to grow and redeem it.”

They plan to build another similar building on the same property––the combined projects are estimated to cost $1.7 million.

Their ultimate desire is to offer more housing for mothers, since they turn away 400 families annually, Brenda Rogers, the program’s director told the Colorado Springs Gazette. Women are allowed to live at Mary’s Home, enrolled in all of the vocational and financial programs offered, for up to five years. The new buildings were necessary to allow for programs and activities to move out of the apartment complex into a separate space, opening up more apartments for families.

In 2010, Pastor Brady Boyd and several other city pastors gathered to determine how they could most wisely invest in their area, asking community leaders which areas were least addressed. One of them was women’s healthcare for uninsured and underinsured women. The other was the “hidden homeless”––women and children who were homeless, often because of domestic violence or generational poverty. Out of those discussions were born the Dream Centers.

Mary’s Home was also a rundown apartment complex purchased and renovated into 17, 500-square foot apartments through the efforts of more than 35 churches, including New Life Church. Boyd is passionate about investing the resources of their church, a 12,000-member congregation with six locations, back into their community.

“We’re the largest church in our city and in a prosperous part of our city,” Boyd said. “We’re not going to be the complacent church in our city. We have been given much, and there is much required of us. It was time for our church to be at the front of the line and be helpful.”

It’s been a powerful shift to witness the collective effort citywide, he said. In 2017 alone, the women’s clinic treated nearly 800 mostly uninsured women, and Mary’s Home housed 12 mothers and 21 children, with the help of 72 partnering organizations in the area.

Boyd said they have had a spiritual impact on these families as well, offering them transportation to church on Sundays if they want. Many of the women have been baptized. Many women have embraced Christianity after experiencing the services at the women’s clinic and Mary’s home.

In the future, the leaders of Dream Centers want to expand their space, offer more housing, and provide more services. In the meantime, they have their hands full. It costs the program $72,000 annually for each family, about only half of which are covered by government subsidies.

“Our whole goal is to prevent and end generational poverty and family homelessness in the Pikes Peak region,” Maher said. “I want even more churches and partners to be involved with that and be part of the story.”

By / Feb 17

As an associate and senior pastor, I have been blessed to serve two churches that developed ministries to the homeless and other needy in their communities. In both cases, these ministries began as God worked in the hearts of lay people, stirring them to start something that would meet practical needs. Pastors didn’t come up with the ideas for these ministries, nor did they have to push people to get involved. God simply moved his people to serve, and pastors came alongside these works and facilitated ministry where they could.

The Bible is clear about the church’s ethical call to alleviate suffering around us.  Proverbs 19:17 offers a powerful word to those who do: “Kindness to the poor is a loan to the LORD, and He will give a reward to the lender.”  The Minor Prophets repeatedly call God’s people to defend the weak and provide for the needs of the impoverished.  James 1:27 gets very specific, explaining that pure and undefiled religion alleviates the suffering of the poor and the widow.

These and other passages provide scriptural reasons for our churches to minister to the homeless and needy. These divine commands are the primary reasons we should do so. In my experience, I have seen the Lord powerfully use homeless ministry to change the churches I have served. I’m referring to an impact other than the difference it might make in the lives of financially needy people. Here are some of those unexpected blessings in starting a ministry to the homeless:

1. Perception in the community among those not needing the ministry

Whether it’s true or not, many churches that are downtown and have large physical plants or possess large memberships have a reputation in their communities of being “that rich church.”  Unfortunately, there are many who automatically think that “those people” in such churches are all about themselves.

However, doing homeless ministry in your community can help change these perceptions and attitudes. As people in your community who have zero need for such ministry see your church genuinely help those in need, their attitude toward your church can change. They may even be more personally open to the gospel.

While at my first church, I was speaking to a man who lived in a relatively affluent neighborhood when it came up that I was a pastor. I told him which church, and he mentioned that his son’s public school class had taken a trip to our church’s homeless ministry, and that he was impressed that our church did that. He had absolutely no need for the ministry, but a church that had often been considered as inward-focused by many in the community now had a loving reputation. In my current context, I was amazed at the positive perception of our conservative church by someone who couldn’t be further from us theologically—largely because of our community work.

2. A missional outlook in your church

We are often tempted to think that if we write a check to support missionaries, we have done our part in the Great Commission. Starting a homeless ministry to help those in the greatest financial need in your community helps counteract that false belief. As your church members serve the homeless, they begin to experientially understand that they are to be making disciples in the context in which God has placed them, now.

We frequently talk about how going on a short-term mission trip to another country got us “out of our comfort zone” and helped us grow in our love for others. Local ministry to the needy helps church members do that right where they live, and on a regular basis.  Being in real relationship and intentional friendship with members of our communities changes our understanding of the Great Commission. Your members will rejoice in knowing the names and stories of people walking the streets around your church. And it will help them think missionally all the time.

3. Evangelism and leadership training

In my current church, we don’t require our guests to be in a church service in order to receive food, clothing or anything else. During the services, we have multiple church members whose only role is to sit and converse with our guests. Their primary role is simply to build relationships with and pray for our guests. And in the context of those relationships, they have often had the opportunity to share the gospel.  This has become a powerful tool of on-the-job evangelism training. Those who have rarely evangelized are able to watch and learn as other believers share the gospel with our guests.

Not only that, but in both churches I have served, ministries to the homeless have become excellent forges for growth in discipleship and leadership. Leaders are developed as needs present themselves, and the Holy Spirit raises up people with unique passions and spiritual gifts to meet those needs.

4. Missions for those who cannot travel

There are many in our churches who would love to participate in short-term mission trips but are unable to travel because of financial constraints, schedule conflicts or problems with their own health or someone for whom they are responsible. One faithful saint in my current church told me that ministry to the homeless allows her to participate in missions, even though she is unable to leave our town because of the poor health of her husband.  We are called to Jerusalem, as well as the ends of the earth, and ministry to the homeless can help many church members awaken to the fact that they are engaged in the Great Commission.

5. Unity with other churches

In both churches that I have served, ministry to the homeless has become a rallying point for churches and ministries who love Christ and the gospel, but who come from different denominational and other backgrounds. These churches have collaborated to provide volunteers, food and other materials for homeless ministry. In such a polarized era, what better way to demonstrate that we are Jesus’ disciples (John 13:35) than to come together for the purpose of loving our communities?

By no means is this article meant to set up a legalistic rule requiring every church to have a particular type of ministry. Rather, the point is to share testimony of how I have seen the Lord in two different contexts use mercy ministries to change a church and its relationship to its community. Evangelism and discipleship are interconnected and feed into one another. As we reach out, speaking and living out the gospel, he grows us. And as we grow, we have greater desire and motivation to share the gospel. May God bless you as you seek to demonstrate his love in your community.

By / Oct 10

I never gave hunger much thought until I became a mother.

Motherhood begins with conversations about “the schedule” and bottles and quickly turns to the veggie/fruit count, snack monitoring and introduction of potential allergens. The information and advice you receive about what your child needs and when he or she needs it can be overwhelming. Yet, my troubles only amounted to worrying about how I would get my one-year-old to drink the unsweetened, organic, vanilla almond milk, not how we would pay for it.

Hunger as a reality

For many, including mothers, the question of where their next meal will come from is a daily, if not hourly, worry. In the United States alone, 89 percent of households with children are considered “food insecure,” meaning they do not know how they will provide their next meal, according to the 2014 “Hunger in America” study by Feeding America. Today, one in seven Americans receives support through a feeding program, including 12 million children. This is a reality I have not known and, I confess, have taken for granted. 

Hunger happens everywhere

Numbers like these are an important reminder that hunger happens everywhere—not just in the slum of a foreign country or the housing developments of urban cities. Hunger is a part of my life and part of yours, by proximity, whether we realize it or not. 

My church uses the phrase “as you go” when talking about sharing the gospel. We share Christ with others as we live our lives in our communities, in our families and in our jobs. It’s incorporated into everything we do—that as we walk with Christ, knowing and serving him, we would make disciples by encouraging others to join us.

Eyes open wide

On a personal level, “as we go,” means we must have our eyes opened to the hunger needs in our communities and neighborhoods. I believe you will find many ministries and governmental organizations meeting the critical needs where you live. I challenge you to join forces with those who do effective, Christ-centered ministry and seek out those who still might be overlooked. 

On an international level, Global Hunger Relief (GHR) operates from a similar mindset. The work of Southern Baptists around the world is vast, varied and gospel-focused. Yet, “as we go” we encounter physical needs that must be met in order to effectively minister. GHR, formerly known as World Hunger Fund, is a cooperative initiative that comes alongside existing Southern Baptist partners and provides the funding to meet those needs. And while most humanitarian organizations keep 30 to 70 percent for administrative overhead, GHR is able to devote 100 percent of resources given to this life-saving work. 

Southern Baptists around the globe will be drawing attention to both this critical need and the important work of Global Hunger Relief October 12 with World Hunger Sunday. I encourage you to visit to learn how you and your church can participate and help us to change forever lives and communities in the name of Christ.