March 27, 2015

Pope of the poor

I am a fan of Pope Francis. Let me amend that statement. I am a big fan of this Pope.

Since the first moment he became the head of the Roman Catholic Church this man has consistently demonstrated a preferential treatment to the poor. He has an authentic spirituality that reflects the love of Christ, and he is changing the culture of the Church. He is a true leader and his faithfulness to the gospel is worth paying attention to.

This recent article by Sébastien Maillard is a good example of why I admire Pope Francis. We could all take lessons from the treatment of the poor by this Pope.

In Francis’ Vatican, the Homeless Get VIP Treatment

Posted: 03/26/2015 2:00 pm EDT Updated: 03/26/2015 2:00 pm EDT

“Following Francis” is a monthly blog on the latest happenings of Pope Francis. It is prepared exclusively for The WorldPost by Sébastien Maillard, Vatican Correspondent for La Croix, Rome

ROME — Visitors had to leave the Sistine Chapel earlier than usual on the afternoon of March 26 — before 4:00 p.m. — and not because of some exclusive VIP event. A group of around 150 homeless were granted a private visit before being offered supper inside the Vatican Museums’ cafeteria. They were separated into three groups, with a guide showing the masterpiece of Michelangelo as part of a tour of the Vatican’s museums and gardens. The session also included passing close by Santa Marta’s residence, where Pope Francis lives and works.

After the visit, Francis greeted the homeless: “Welcome, this is a house for all. Your house.” He then spent 20 minutes meeting his special guests, one by one.

Homeless people don’t appear as just words in a speech or a prayer for the “pope of the poor.” They have become part of the Vatican’s daily life. On March 22, 400 of them helped deliver pocket Gospels that Francis was offering to the crowd gathered on St. Peter’s Square for the Angelus prayer at noon. One hundred homeless people also did the same a month before, handing out another booklet for Lent.

The Vatican not only attracts tourists worldwide but also beggers standing around Bernini’s colonnade. At night, some homeless find shelter at the doorstep of Vatican offices. In Buenos Aires, Jorge Bergoglio used to walk all by himself, as cardinal, inside the slums surrounding Argentina’s capital. He cannot do this anymore as the bishop of Rome, so he told Monsignor Konrad Krajewski, whom he appointed as almoner, “You can sell your desk. You don’t need it … You need to go out and look for the poor.”

March 26, 2015

making a difference in Madagascar

Stop Hunger Now will provide over 60 million meals this year to our partners around the world. Here is a brief update on the meals we are distributing in Madagascar.

Partner Highlight – Madagascar

Stop Hunger Now has been shipping meals to Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) Madagascar since 2013. We recently received this update from the field.  

This is a easy, short  and powerful story to share with volunteers, donors and supporters.  

“The rate of absenteeism has decreased by 100% in two schools as a result of meal program with Stop Hunger Now. The school exam results have also improved greatly. When asked who liked their food, everyone raised their hand!”  via ADRA Madagascar

March 25, 2015

Saint Minnie

This past Saturday, we lost a true saint. Minnie Bassett Lane  went to her heavenly reward, and the world is lesser for it. Her funeral was yesterday.

Minnie and her husband B. B. (who passed away in 2004) were people of abiding faith and active members of Lane Memorial United Methodist Church in Altavista, Virginia. Both were deeply caring people, and that caring and compassion was reflected throughout their lives.

Minnie was a small woman physically, but the quiet strength of her personality and her boundless energy were absolutely contagious. Her grace and charm were real, and her ability to bring people together was nothing less than astounding. Her life was a true demonstration of Christian faith in action.

In 1956 she and B. B. created the Minnie and Bernard Lane Foundation specifically to reduce hunger, help the needy and expand the Christian faith both internationally and throughout Central Virginia. Minnie also worked tirelessly to help break down the race barriers that existed in Altavista and Virginia. In 1974 Minnie was named “Altavista’s Outstanding Citizen.” Her efforts were recognized by the NAACP  in 2003 with their Community Service Award. She was also honored with the Lynchburg Humanitarian Award in 2007.

I knew Minnie through the Society of St. Andrew, my first nonprofit. At the point where Ken Horne and I had exhausted our limited ability to raise the necessary financial resources to keep the Potato Project going and growing, Saint Minnie stepped in and took us under her wing.

She not only made sure Ken and I received excellent training in fundraising, she undergirded our fundraising efforts with timely and strategic financial injections from the foundation. But more than that she truly became our own patron saint.

She hosted introductory breakfasts and luncheons for us. She introduced us to friends and  others she knew who could help us grow.She took Ken and I to New York to meet with possible donors. She worked tirelessly to expand our network. Her participation and help were directly responsible  for the success of this ongoing ministry that continues to feed millions of hungry citizens throughout the United States.

Minnie cared. And everyone who was privileged to know her knew she cared. Her life was a constant reflection of God’s love. Minnie was a saint, and she will be missed.

March 24, 2015

our last piece of bread

We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way. — Victor Frankl

Heroism comes in many guises. It’s not always the bravery of a soldier giving his life for his comrades or the selfless actions of a firefighter risking her life to save a child from a burning building.

As Frankl so eloquently describes, there are heroes who simply do what they can to comfort others in their time of need. The do whatever they are able to make pain more bearable and offer whatever hope they can bring.

All of us have the freedom to be that hero. All of us can carry hope. We are not asked to give away our last piece of bread. But, as Frankl points out, we all have the freedom to choose our own way.

What will we choose today? Will we turn selfishly inward, or will we choose to care enough to be the bringers of comfort to those in need?

March 23, 2015

bread is bread

The satiated man and the hungry one do not see the same thing when they look upon a loaf of bread. – Rumi

Someone once told me that perception is reality. It took a little time for me to fully understand that piece of wisdom, but once I did, it has had a big influence on my relational skills.

Rumi, the well-known and much beloved Sufi poet, describes this by painting us a compelling picture.

Bread is bread, right? Maybe, but maybe not.

For most of us bread is just another commodity, another item to pick up at the store or check off a long grocery list. But to others bread is life or death, something to fantasize over, something that occupies every waking moment.

Those of us blessed with enough food are blessed to have numerous problems. Those that are hungry this morning have only one…bread.

Rumi is right. A loaf of bread is a loaf of bread, but it smells far better to some.

March 22, 2015

a prayer for grace

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March 21, 2015

The Tiger in the Smoke

Normally he was the happiest of men. He asked so little of life that its frugal bounty amazed and delighted him….He believed in miracles and frequently observed them, and nothing astonished him. His imagination was as wild as a small boy’s and his faith ultimate. In ordinary life he was, quite frankly, hardly safe out. — Margery Allingham, The Tiger in the Smoke

I must admit that I haven’t yet had the pleasure of reading Margery Allingham’s book, The Tiger in the Smoke. It is, however, on my short list.

Who the “he” is in the short passage above I do not know, but I cannot wait to meet him. We are going to great friends, and I am looking forward to spending many enjoyable hours with him.

We have so much in common that I already feel like I have known him forever. Allingham’s beautifully concise description of him makes me want to invite him over for a beer. Just this brief sketch lets me know the two of us share a worldview that would make for evening of fascinating conversation.

But more than that, this character is someone who could teach me, and teach me  a lot. I am intrigued by his joyous amazement of the simple things. I love his openness and am delighted at his belief in miracles and his ultimate faith. And it sounds like his imagination might even be as big as mine.

This guy knows the secret. And I can already see that the he’s willing to share it.

It’s a good thing I have the bookstore on speed dial.



March 20, 2015

food for all…you make the call

Food for all is a necessity. Food should not be a merchandise, to be bought and sold as jewels are bought and sold by those who have money to buy. Food is a human necessity, like water and air, and it should be available. — Pearl S. Buck

What do you think about this statement? Do you agree or disagree?

There is no question that food is a human necessity; it’s a necessity for all living beings. But there are arguments to be made on both sides of the question.

What would happen if food was freely made available to everyone on the planet? Would the results be good? Would the positive benefits of universal access to nutrition outweigh any negative impact?

What would be the largest positive impact of food being made available to all without cost? What would be the most detrimental impact of universal food for all?

There would definitely be some amazing positive results of everyone being fed. Yet, along with the good there would be some negative effects, as well.

You make the call. The decision is yours. Should food be available to all without cost? Why?