Tom Berlin is the senior pastor of Floris UMC in Herndon, Virginia. He is also a close friend who is one of the most mission-minded church leaders I know. This is a recent article on a new United Methodist Church iniative here in Virginia.
When life gives you lemons …
By the Rev. Tom Berlin
I never thought when I entered ministry that the Virginia Annual Conference would encourage us to start lemonade stands. Start new churches, yes. Start new ministries, okay. But lemonade stands?
But I think this plan from the folks who are leading the Imagine No Malaria initiative in Virginia is a great idea for many reasons. Let me share a few:
- It involves kids and those who care for them. Kids like helping people, and they like the opportunity to run things that make a real difference in ways you can count. When their efforts give them an opportunity to be generous with the funds they have earned, they are truly empowered to bless others. At Floris UMC we have challenged the kids by telling them that the church will double every dollar that they raise. Their leadership will have twice the impact!
- I like buying lemonade from kids. I think if you drive past a kid in at a lemonade stand and don’t stop, you are just a bad American. When you give a kid a dime or a quarter for a cup of lemonade, they get very excited and all official business on you. I just get a kick out of it.
- It gives people who don’t go to our churches an opportunity to be generous, and generosity is good for the soul. Picture the smiling adult plunking down their quarter for the lemonade – the kid is smiling, the adult is smiling, the adult helping the kid is smiling. Now imagine that kid saying, thanks, all the proceeds from our lemonade stand go to fight malaria. You can read about it right here.The customer reads about Imagine No Malaria and realizes what a great thing this kid is doing selling lemonade for a good cause. That spurs generosity. It is not coerced or guilt-ridden. It is the kind of joyful generosity that helps people sleep better at night knowing they have been about good in the world. So often people want to do the right thing, and just need a good opportunity.
- Kids at Floris are going to hand out invitations to attend our church along with information about malaria. I can’t think of a better advertisement for the UMC than children who know about the world beyond their community, serve those who suffer from a terrible disease and are a part of a church excited about their efforts. I hope we have kids in every neighborhood in our area offering lemonade and telling those who stop about what we are doing to relieve the suffering of malaria. Think of how that will change the way many people think about the church.
Finally, I am excited because I travel to Sierra Leone, Africa, on a fairly regular basis and know people who routinely suffer from malaria, which is debilitating and can lead to tragic deaths. The money raised in Virginia and shared with our church in Africa matters. These lemonade stands aren’t just some new gimmick. They are a means of grace to pay for bed nets, medications and training that will save lives. And that, friends, is one sweet deal.
On the eve of International Women’s Day, Stop Hunger Now India salutes the spirit of these girls from the Hope Foundation school near Tannery Road in Bangalore who, despite all the odds and challenges, have successfully completed their high school courses and are getting ready to spread their wings. They will soon be joining college courses to pursue higher studies after spending 10 to 12 years in the same school. These girls and nearly 400 others from this school located in a slum community inside Bangalore are benefiting from the meals provided by Stop Hunger Now India. Proud moments!
No child should have to go to bed hungry. Together we can make sure they do not have to. Let’s work together to end hunger in our lifetime.
I love it when friends share interesting articles and little personal stories with me about global hunger. It reminds me that the more we talk to one another about ending hunger, the more we learn, and hopefully, the more empowered we become to end hunger in our lifetime.
This morning is a good case in point. Bob Dixson, Stop Hunger Now’s CFO, brought me an article from this past Monday’s FINANCIAL TIMES. The article, “Why Food Security Comes First,” was written by Felipe Calderon, the President of Mexico.
Calderon wrote that his country, which is currently president of the G20, insisted that food security be raised to the top of the G20 agenda along with the restoration of economic growth and global financial reform.
He begins the article with the observation that the Arab Spring, now often referred to as the first “internet revolution,” was most likely prompted by the steeply rising food proces that made people far more desperate than usual.
The piece is well written and lists a number of positive action steps that needs to be undertaken. However, what the article will truly accomplish is questionable. What it most clearly demonstrates, as Bob remarked as he handed me the paper, is that President Calderone has a good speech writer.
That said, however, the article concludes with a powerful statement in which I am in full agreement.
That almost 1bn people in the world remain undernourished is unacceptable.
The time has come for food security to be considered one of the most important tasks humanity must address in the 21st century…
Stop Hunger Now continues to work in South Sudan as this infant nation struggles to survive. William Lambers wrote this insightful news piece on March 5th. I have taken the liberty to reprint it without editing.
Stop Hunger Now has two twenty foot containers of meals (285,000) on the water heading to South Sudan as I write. These meals are headed for Old Fangak for our Food Security and Community Development Project in that village. Old Fangak is located in Jongei State. Although these meals will help far more is needed.
South Sudan is facing a major hunger emergency as drought has ruined food supplies. The UN World Food Programme (WFP) says nearly 5 million people “could suffer from food insecurity in 2012, with an estimated 1 million people severely food-insecure.”
Ahnna Gudmunds, a WFP Sudan officer, says, “Households will face significant difficulty obtaining food during this period. Volatile food supply and poor diets are likely to intensify the severity of the hunger season.”
It gets worse. Conflict in the Jonglei State, the largest in South Sudan, has caused suffering, displacement and even more hunger. Fighting between the Lou Nuer and Murle tribes has escalated in recent months. The two sides have a history of violence. One side kidnaps members of the other or steals cattle, the other side then responds with an attack and the cycle of violence continues.
WFP is feeding about 170,800 people displaced by this conflict. This emergency food aid must be followed by longer term development aid.
Gudmunds explains that Jonglei is “one of the most underdeveloped states with a very poor, and sometimes non-existing, infrastructure. Some of the counties may be accessible by road only for few months a year due to rains.”
WFP is rushing to make sure supplies are in place ahead of these expected rains in April. The international community needs to ensure WFP has enough funding to carry on the relief work. South Sudan, which gained its independence last year, is reeling from war and drought.
There is also no shortage of weapons making the conflict between the Lou Neur and Murle that much more dangerous. Both tribes were armed during the decades long Civil War between the South and North Sudan. That war ended in 2005 with the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA).
A report from the Small Arms Survey says, “Despite post-CPA disarmament drives, both groups have remained armed and active. Their ongoing feud is highly suggestive of civil war-era dynamics, exacerbated by post-CPA jockeying for services, power, and influence.”
The government of South Sudan is currently undertaking a campaign to disarm civilians in Jonglei. Most everyone would agree that disarmament is needed. But the question is when this disarmament should take place.
The Enough project warns that the time for disarmament is not right and will undermine the peace process. There needs to be confidence-building, dialogue and humanitarian aid well in process before traveling the disarmament path.
Amanda Hsiao, Enough Project South Sudan field researcher, says, “Without the capacity to simultaneously disarm rival communities, to ensure the security of disarmed communities, and to stop the flow of arms back into the hands of civilians, forcible disarmament at this moment will undermine, rather than facilitate, the government’s efforts toward peace-building in Jonglei.”
Jennifer Christian, Enough Project Sudan policy analyst, adds, “What the people of Jonglei require right now is humanitarian assistance, security, and the establishment of a mechanism through which they may peacefully resolve their grievances with other communities.”
Catholic Relief Services (CRS) is focusing a great extent of its peacebuilding in South Sudan on development. For CRS only hope will light the road to peace in Sudan. Peace and development are clearly linked.
Sara Fajardo, a CRS officer says, “Decades of violent conflict have left their mark. We need to provide alternatives to violence by investing in ‘peace dividends’ such as building roads, digging borehole wells, helping to strengthen the health care system, and providing seeds and tools for agriculture to name a few. These are all crucial components in giving people a reason to hope and build a future. ”
CRS is working on these projects in South Sudan as well as reinforcing relief efforts for the displaced. However, funding for these projects is key. CRS, for instance, faced low funding for its school feeding programs in Bor County, Jonglei. These programs came to an end last year.
Also crucial will be ensuring the United Nations Peacekeeping Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has enough resources to help protect civilians. Hilde Johnson, director of the mission, says, “UNMISS has reinforced its presence in key areas of Jonglei State and is conducting continuous air patrols to deter violence.”
It was such air patrols that detected and sounded the alarm of a large force of the Lou Neur readying to attack the Murle in December.
Dialogue, development and disarmament need to take place in South Sudan. Until they do hunger and misery will continue in this impoverished nation. Right now, South Sudan is trapped in a major food crisis, with the future of millions of people hanging in the balance.
The link between hunger and global security has never been stronger or more apparent. Ending the scourge of worldwide hunger and malnutrition is the first step in insuring global security and even achieving peace among nations.
There can be no true global security as long as two-thirds of our human family are daily stalked by the threat of hunger and famine. The following article by William Lambers provides some excellent insight into the connection between cutting aid programs and national security. I have reprinted it in its entirety due to the clarity of the arguments made by Mr. Lambers.
Cutting food aid programs dangerous to national security
Global Hunger Examiner
November 9, 2011
There is much debate in Congress on how much to cut military spending. But there is another vital area of our foreign policy at risk of budget cuts too: international food aid.
Fighting hunger is not often included in talks about national security. But it should be. Remember the famous World War II slogan, “Food will win the war and write the peace.” George Marshall said, “Hunger and insecurity are the worst enemies of peace.” Food formed the foundation of the famous Marshall Plan that spurred Europe’s recovery after the war.
While some members of Congress may think it prudent now to cut food aid programs to save a few dollars, think again. On the contrary, by investing now in nutrition and agriculture development, future humanitarian disasters can be averted, thereby reducing foreign assistance in the future. Nutrition for a generation of children means better educated societies, more stable societies and the chance for economic growth.
Investing in farmers allows them to build up the capacity to better resist drought. This is what can prevent famines from taking hold.
Reducing food aid will cost lives, increase the spread of disease, and weaken societies who are fighting poverty. Congress simply cannot cut food aid, in view of the famine striking East Africa, drought leveling Afghanistan, and malnutrition on the attack in Yemen. We have to remember that Haiti and other countries need food to remain on the road to recovery.
International food aid currently accounts for less than one tenth of one percent of the federal budget. So in essence, you are looking at an already relatively low-funded program that is being selected for potential cuts. You could actually increase the funding for these programs past current levels and put very little strain on the budget.
International food aid programs include the Food for Peace initiative started by President Dwight Eisenhower and the McGovern-Dole program which provides school meals. These programs got their start by members of the Greatest Generation who understood that food forms the basis of all reconstruction, peace and progress.
This is a lesson Congress should not forget as it forges the budget and how to spend on an essential aspect of our national security: fighting global hunger.
Learn more about the potential budget cuts at the World Food Program USA.
Article first published as Cutting Food Aid Programs Dangerous to National Security on Blogcritics.
Stop Hunger Now is responding to the humanitarian crisis in Somalia and Kenya. As I wrote in my last post, we are sending over a million meals into the region over the next 30 days.
But, that’s not enough. We all need to do more. Reprinted below from World Food Programme are 11 easy ways to help save lives.
Stop Hunger Now is proud to work along side the WFP in helping feed the hungry, and we support the great work they do. No organization in the world feeds more of the hungry than the WFP.
As you read the suggestions reprinted below, let them be a springboard for even more ways to help those in such great need. Remember. everything you do will make a real difference.
More than 12 million people in the Horn of Africa are in urgent need of food assistance. This is a life or death situation and it calls for all of us to take action.
Here are 11 things absolutely anyone can do to help us save lives:
1. Make an online donation
Over the coming weeks, WFP will feed more people across the Horn of Africa than live in Los Angeles. That’s a big job. Making a secure online donation to WFP USA is one of the best ways you can help to support WFP’s relief efforts. Donate now.
2. Donate by text message
Don’t have a credit card? No problem. You can donate $10 to the Horn of Africa emergency fund by texting ‘AID’ to 27722.
3. Take the quiz
How much do you know about what’s going on in the Horn of Africa? Find out by taking this short quiz. For every person who takes it, a child will receive a warm meal thanks to an anonymous donor. Take the quiz, put your knowledge to the test and then challenge your friends! You can also take the quiz by texting ‘QUIZ‘ to 27722.
4. Stay current
Thousands of people are on the move across Somalia and WFP is rapidly scaling up its operations in the region. Keep track of developments at their crisis page, where you’ll find the latest news and updates plus photos, videos and stories from the field. Go to WFP’s crisis page.
5. Get social
The world needs to know about what’s going on in the Horn of Africa and that starts with your friends on Facebook, your followers on Twitter, your subscribers on YouTube etc. Join our online communities and share the message with your friends and followers: Facebook | Twitter | Youtube
6. Share this video
It’s less than one minute long and will give you a good idea of the situation in the Horn of Africa and what WFP is doing about it. After you’ve seen it make sure all of your friends see it as well. Watch the video.
7. Speak out
Historically, the U.S. has led the world in responding to emergency hunger needs when disaster strikes. Most recently, however, the U.S. Congress has proposed cutting those programs by 75 percent compared to three years ago. Speak out and let U.S. decision makers know that you care about global hunger.
8. Grab a banner
Are you a blogger? Go check out WFP’s collection of banners and then put one on your site. Make sure that the people who come to your blog know what it’s for. If you don’t write a blog yourself, send this link around to the bloggers you like to read and tell them what to do. Grab a banner
9. Get these ads published
Contact your local newspaper and ask them to publish one of WFP’s print ads. Make sure they know that you think this is the single most important story in the news right now. See the print ads
10. Be creative
There are hundreds of things ordinary people can do to help our operations in the Horn of Africa. Taking up a collection at school or holding a neighborhood fundraiser are just a few of things are supporters have done to help feed the hungry. If you need some inspiration, find out what 9-year-old Emily did last year to help people left homeless by flooding in Pakistan. Read the story
11. Keep us posted
We want to know what you’re doing to raise money and awareness to help us do our work. You can write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org, get in touch with us on Twitter at @WFPUSA or post a comment on our Facebook page.