September 16, 2014

disaster looms in South Sudan

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South Sudan is facing a real and immediate hunger crisis. The United Nations reports that less than half of necessary funding has been donated for this emergency. Our help is desperately needed.
Stop Hunger Now has been working in South Sudan for years, and continues to partner with Dr. Jill Seaman and others to make a difference in the lives of thousands. We need your help to do more. Visit our website to learn how we can work together to save the lives of these children.

 

September 15, 2014

more aid for Ebola victims

The press release copied below tells the story of Stop Hunger Now’s continuing response to the Ebola crisis in West Africa.Typhoon

Stop Hunger Now Sends More Aid to West Africa

Food and other aid shipped to Sierra Leone for Ebola Crisis Response

(Raleigh, NC, Sept. 15, 2014) - Stop Hunger Now is shipping a container of meals and and donated medical aid to New Harvest Ministries & Final Command Ministries in Sierra Leone as part of relief operations in response to the recent outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa.

The container with 285,120 meals and 50 boxes of medical aid supplied by MAP International departed from the Stop Hunger Now warehouse in Atlanta, GA, on September 4, 2014.

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. To date, more than 1,848 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.

Stop Hunger Now has committed to provide more than one million meals to Liberia and Sierra Leone over the next few weeks. In August, Stop Hunger Now shipped meals and medical equipment to partners in Liberia and  Sierra Leone.

“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. “We have committed an initial response of one million meals, and as the extent of the need becomes more clear, we intend to help as long as necessary.”

In addition to meals, Stop Hunger Now is organizing the shipment of other critical supplies such as first aid kits, medical gloves, face masks, hazmat kits, personal protection equipment.

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.

For more information or to make a donation,  visit www.stophungernow.org.

 

September 14, 2014

a prayer for bread and justice

O God, just as the disciples heard Christ’s words of promise and began to eat the bread and drink the wine in the suffering of a long remembrance and in the joy of a hope, grant that we may hear your word, spoken in each thing of everyday affairs:

Coffee, on our table in the morning;
     the simple gesture of opening a door to go out, free;
     the shouts of children in the parks;
     a familiar song, sung by an unfamiliar voice;
     a friendly tree that has not yet been cut down.

May simple things speak to us of your mercy, and tell us that life can be good.
     And may these sacramental gifts make us remember those who do not receive them:

     who have their lives cut every day, in the bread absent from the table;
     in the door of the hospital, the prison, the welfare home that does not open;
     in sad children, feet without shoes, eyes without hope;
     in war hymns that glorify death;
     in deserts where once there was life;

Christ was also sacrificed; and may we learn that we participate in the saving sacrifice of Christ when we participate in the suffering of his little ones.   Amen.

A prayer by Rubem Alves from Brazil (taken from the The United Methodist Hymnal).

September 12, 2014

dragons aren’t real, but they’re true

Some believe it is only great power that can hold evil in check. But that is not what I have found.

I have found that it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folks that keeps the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love. — Gandalf

I love fantasy, and Tolkien is one of my favorites. It’s passages like the one above that endear him to me. Fantasy as a genre has a greater power to convey truth than many realize. As Ursula LeGuin (another one of my favorites) so rightly points out, “Dragons aren’t real, but they’re true.” And the wise old Wizard, Gandalf, not only nails the truth in the passage above, he hammers it home with subtle power.

How do we defeat the evil  so rampant in our world? How do we make a real difference in the lives of the millions forced to suffer from need and hunger? How do we change the world forever?

We heal our world through small everyday deeds of kindness and love. We choose to live in a way that is fair and just for all. We consciously adopt a lifestyle the empowers the powerless and gives voice to the voiceless. We intentionally stand and walk along side the poor and hungry rather than mindlessly buying into systems that have only greed and profit as their core values.

We keep the darkness at bay by joining together with other folks just like ourselves and practicing justice through the way we live. And ultimately, our small everyday acts of love and kindness will achieve a world where the light of justice will not only keep the dragons at bay, but defeat forever the darkness that spawns them.

 

September 9, 2014

transforming the Jericho Road

We are called to play the good Samaritan on life’s roadside; but that will only be the initial act. One day…the whole Jericho road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life’s highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It understands that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. — Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr

I call this transformation crossing the bridge from compassion to justice. It’s not enough to respond to the sight of the poor and hungry with a reactionary gift. It’s not enough to even give regularly to help feed and care for those we know are in need.

Both are good. And both make a real difference. But neither is what is truly needed.

An infection cannot be cured with bandaids.

We can end hunger in our lifetime. We can change the world forever. But to do so requires more than compassion.

Ending hunger in our lifetime requires us to take the bone away from the dog. It requires us to confront the systems that oppress the poor and hungry and say ” Enough. No more.”

We can transform the Jericho Road. It just requires justice.

September 7, 2014

being hungry is not a sin

Today’s sermon:
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<p>If you agree, Like Our Time

O God,

You are the Creator and Lover of all that exists. Open our eyes, open our hearts, to the beauty of all you have given us, and let us recognize that beauty in every soul we meet.

Help us to stop judging those different than ourselves, and help us to stop being afraid to reach out in the love and compassion of your Son to meet the needs of those around us who are broken and struggling.

Grant us the wisdom to realize we are all one family, and  grant us the courage to live faithfully in the midst of a hungry and hurting world.      Amen
September 4, 2014

the soul of genius

True genius without heart is a thing of naught — for not with great understanding alone, nor imagination alone, nor both together make genius. Love, love, love, that is the soul of genius. — Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

I believe it. It is not the mind of God that is most important to know, but the heart of God. The closer we are to the heart of God, the more love we have for one another, the easier it becomes to demonstrate that love in ways that help heal our broken world. The great Indian poet,  Rabindranath Tagore, put it this way:

He who wants to do good knocks at the gate; he who loves finds the gate open.

September 2, 2014

Forest Road UMC: “a wonderful opportunity”

After a thirty plus year hiatus I have once found myself again in the role of pastor. At the end of June I accepted a part-time appointment as pastor to the Forest Road United Methodist Church here in Lynchburg, Virginia. My long-time friend, Larry Davies, the District Superintendent here on the Lynchburg District suggested that serving the Forest Road congregation would be a “wonderful opportunity” for me to put into practice my mission ideas included in my first book, Getting Off Our Buts.

First, I have to admit I accepted the appointment as a favor to Larry, and I did so with more than a little trepidation. I wasn’t sure I could still be an effective pastor. A lot has changed in 30 years. And second, I knew I already had a fairly full plate. I am still appointed to Stop Hunger Now and I am now also an adjunct professor at George Mason University.

Fear often slows me down, which is what it is supposed to do, but I learned long ago never to let it stop me. And even though I knew I would have to walk a scheduling tightrope, I felt that if I was careful I could manage all my commitments. So I now once again find myself in the midst of active pastoral ministry.

And I have to admit something else. I am loving it. There’s definitely all the frustrations I remember from my early days in the pastoral ministry…but there is also the deep joy of seeing folks come alive to the gospel message. I love visiting with folks in their homes. And I am finding it fulfilling to again being in a position where I am daily called to demonstrate real servant leadership.

And even though I wouldn’t admit it to him, Larry was right. Forest Road United Methodist Church is indeed proving to be a “wonderful opportunity” to teach loving and caring folks how we can all get off our buts to make mission happen.

(Oh, and by the way, Getting Off Our Buts is now available on Amazon.)