October 19, 2014

acceptable prayers

Does God have a set way of prayer, a way that he expects each of us to follow? I doubt it. I believe some people — pray through the witness of their lives, through the work they do, the friendships they have, the love they offer people and receive from people. Since when are words the only acceptable from of prayer? – Dorthy Day

Gracious and loving God. Empower each of us this day to pray without ceasing. Allow our every action to reflect your compassion for those of our family most in need, and ensure that everything we do demonstrates  your sacrificial love and your justice for the poor and the hungry next door, down the street, and around the world.

October 17, 2014

Latest Stop Hunger Now Ebola Response

Stop Hunger Now continues to provide both emergency meals and medical equipment to the victims of the growing Ebola crisis in West Africa. Here is the latest press release on our recent efforts.Ty

Stop Hunger Now Aid to West Africa Continues

More than 2 mllion meals and other aid shipped for Ebola Crisis Response

(Raleigh, NC, Oct 17, 2014) - Stop Hunger Now continues to provide food and donated aid to partners in Sierra Leone and Liberia in response to the outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa. Stop Hunger Now U.S. and Stop Hunger Now Southern Africa have already shipped 2.2 million meals and more meals will be in route in the next few weeks.

“The situation of the country at this time is nothing short of pitiful,” says  Josaphat, leader of the Salesians of Don Bosco in Monrovia  who are working in the villages of Liberia to  help prevent and defeat Ebola.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the 2014 Ebola outbreak is one of the largest in history and affects Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone in Western Africa. To date, more than 4484 deaths are attributed to suspected cases of the virus. As a result, there are reported incidences of food shortages, starvation and a general increase in food insecurity in the region.

Experts indicate there is a good chance of survival if the Ebola sufferer receives appropriate treatment, especially through blood transfusions, good nutrition; clean beds and mattresses, good personal health and protective material.

In addition to meals, Stop Hunger Now shipments have included other critical supplies and donated aid such as medical gloves, face masks and personal protection equipment.

Stop Hunger Now is working with in-country partners Salesian Missions, Reach Now International,  New Harvest Ministries & Final Command Ministries and Liberia Baptist Missionary and Educational Convention in Sierra Leone and Liberia to distribute the meals and supplies.

“Stop Hunger Now is acting quickly to provide life-saving food and aid to the families affected by the Ebola outbreak,” said Rod Brooks, Stop Hunger Now President and CEO. “Thanks to the generosity of our supporters, we exceeded our initial commitment of one million meals in a matter of weeks. As the extent of the need becomes more clear, we intend to help as long as necessary.”

Founded in 1998, Stop Hunger Now has delivered aid and disaster relief supplies in the form of food, medical supplies, clothing, school supplies, and more to thousands of disaster victims and other hungry and vulnerable people around the world.  More than 450,000 volunteers have packaged the highly nutritious dehydrated meals comprised of rice, soy, vegetables, flavoring, and 23 essential vitamins and minerals during popular community-supported Stop Hunger Now meal packaging events.

“We’re grateful for the many volunteers who have packaged meals with Stop Hunger Now. Their support has made this shipment possible. We encourage others to schedule meal packaging events and commit their donations to help us ship meals so that we can continue to provide much needed relief,” says Brooks.

Stop Hunger Now also has a track record of providing meals in response to disasters. After Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines in November 2013, Stop Hunger Now shipped 3 million meals and more than $672,800 in donated aid for a response totaling more than $1.5 million towards relief efforts. The organization provided nearly 200,000 meals to victims of Hurricane Sandy in 2012.


October 16, 2014

averting a greater tragedy

Thousands of our family have already died of the Ebola virus. The epidemic continues to spread far more rapidly than medical providers can begin to handle. Liberia and Sierra Leone, two of the worst impacted countries in West Africa have been brought to a standstill, with Ebola wrecking their economies as well as the lives of their people. And now cases of Ebola have been recognized both in Europe and also in the United States.

Credible estimates report that this deadly epidemic could claim as high as 50,000 lives before the end of the year.  That is a staggering number. But, as frightening as that figure might be, it is far from the most frightening number.

Those succumbing to the disease are just the beginning of the tragedy. Ebola has already begun to cause hunger in the West African countries hardest hit, and that hunger will grow exponentially in the weeks and months to come.

Farmers are unable to work their field for fear of being infected. The harvest will be late and lean.

Village markets have shut down as people avoid gathering. Basic food stuffs and commodities are becoming more scarce.

The price of food, rice in particular, has begun to rise. And the downward spiral toward widespread hunger begins.

Ebola has already claimed thousands of victims and it will claim thousands more. But hunger, which has already begun, will attack millions throughout the affected region.

The best cure for Ebola has yet to be discovered. But we already know how to stop hunger, and now is the time to begin. By the end of the year we will see another much larger crisis than the actual epidemic. Now is the time to do what we can to prevent widespread hunger and malnutrition through West Africa.

October 14, 2014

boils and scabies (and the Golden Rule)

I love Sufi poetry, and Rumi and Hafiz have long been favorites. I recently came across this delightful quote by Rumi and I share it now because of its timeliness in my own life.

When a man has boils or scabies,, he isn’t disgusted with himself; he puts his infected hand in his dish and he licks his fingers without any repugnance. But, if he sees a small sore on someone else’s hand he can’t swallow his food. It’s the same with moral blemishes; when you see defects such as indifference, pride, and lust in yourself, they don’t bother you; but as soon as you notice them in others, you feel hurt and resentful. 

Jesus is clear in his call for those following him to treat one another just as they would want to be treated. We know it as the “Golden Rule.” Wonderfully, every major religion and faith tradition has the Golden Rule as part of their core values.

The frightening bottom line in the Christian faith is that Jesus says we will be judged exactly like we judge those around us. The measure we give is the measure we will get.

We all have our own moral warts and scabies. Before we start pointing our infected fingers at those around us we need to first clear up the blemishes in our own less-than-perfect lives.

October 12, 2014

prayer for opportunities of grace

Gracious Creator, Lord, mother and father of us all, We love you this morning. We really do. And we are so deeply thankful for the the unending and undeserved love and grace you pour into our lives.

We know your love extends to all of your creation, yet we admit we don’t always act as if we acknowledge that, or if we even care. Forgive our often callous disregard for our brothers and sisters created in your image. You have taught us that our love for them is actually our love for you.

Help us love the least of these among us more deeply with each passing day. Empower us through your Holy Spirit to actively seek justice for the poor at every opportunity. Grant us obvious opportunities to reach out in your love and compassion to feed those among us who hunger. And let us never forget to praise you for all such opportunities for grace. Amen

October 9, 2014

Sierra Leone pastors battling hunger as well as Ebola

Sierra Leone  is at the epicenter of the Ebola epidemic epidemic ravaging West Africa.  The epidemic has already killed almost four thousand and has brought the country to a standstill.

Last week I received a call from the Reverend John Yambasu, Bishop of the United Methodist Church in Sierra Leone. John and I have known each other for over twenty years, and when he calls I listen, not because he is a bishop, but because we are close friends and I know he is a man of great faithfulness.

John called with a plea for help. He needs food for the 200 United Methodist pastors and their families in Sierra Leone Conference. Could Stop Hunger Now help?

The need is both real and immediate. Ebola has caused the collapse of  Sierra Leone’s economy. People cannot work. Huge swaths of the country are under quarantine. That means far fewer people are attending worship services, and those that can attend have no money. Pastors are already starting to do without. They have no resources with which to purchase food.

Stop Hunger Now has already been responding the the Ebola epidemic. We have shipped over two million meals to various partners in Sierra Leone, Liberia and other West African countries. None of it, however, was specifically targeted to reach the United Methodist Church.

Now, UMCOR  (United Committee on Relief) has established two separate accounts for providing the critical aid need on both Sierra Leone and Liberia. Every dollar contributed goes directly to meet the need of those in the impacted areas. Please prayerfully consider helping and helping as generously as you are able. The fund for pastors salaries will enable them to purchase food for their families during this ongoing tragedy.

Here is the link on the UMCOR website:
http://www.umcor.org/umcor/donate/ebolaresponse  There is an Advance # for Sierra Leone and one for Liberia as well., two separate funds.
The link below is the donation page for pastors’ salaries in Sierra Leone
Gandhi wrote that “Action expresses priorities.”  My prayer is that our priorities would clearly demonstrate our love and care for our brothers and sisters in Sierra Leone and Liberia. Please help. Take action now.




October 5, 2014

fill us, Lord

Most merciful and gracious God, we pray today that our eyes might be fully opened to the suffering of our family around the world. Expand our horizons from our narrow circle of family and friends to include all of those created so perfectly in your image. Grant us the all-encompassing love of Your Son the Christ so that we might have open hearts as well as open eyes.

Fill us with compassion. Fill us with a passion for justice. Fill us with a true hunger for righteousness.

Make us get off our buts, and get off our assets, as well. And then grant us the strength and power of your Holy Spirit that we might prove ourselves good and faithful disciples as we reach out to those most in need. Amen

October 3, 2014

when the bread finally arrives

Sometime in your life, hope that you might see one starved man, the look on his face when the bread finally arrives. Hope that you might have baked it or brought it or even kneaded it yourself. For that look on his face, for your meeting his eyes across a piece of bread, you might be willing to lose a lot, or suffer a lot, or die a little, even. – Daniel Berrigan

Looking into the eyes of the hungry is terrifying. Looking into the eyes of a starving person receiving food will change your life forever. Not many of us have such privilege. But we all have the opportunity to make sure the bread arrives.

This is World Hunger Action Month. Take time this month to help make sure the bread finally arrives. Working together we can end the obscenity of hunger in our lifetime.