Helping on World Food Day 2014 (Feature Friday!)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, October 17, 2014

bread for myself, for my neighbor

Helping on World Food Day 2014 (Feature Friday!)

Yesterday was World Food Day, Thursday, October 16, 2014, instituted by the Conference of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. This organization heightens public awareness of widespread hunger and world food problems. World Food Day also helps to build and strengthen solidarity and unity in the struggle against hunger, malnutrition and poverty. Each day, millions around the world—from countless regions—go hungry. World Food Day strives to lessen that hunger.

I followed the links for #WorldFoodDay on Twitter. I came to http://www.worldfooddayusa.org/what-is-wfd : Amid many heart-rending statistics at this website, I found several that particularly hit home to me, as a woman and a mom. Here they are: “In a world of plenty, 805 million people, one in nine worldwide, live with chronic hunger. The costs of hunger and malnutrition fall heavily on the most vulnerable.

  • “60% of the hungry in the world are women.
  • Almost 5 million children under the age of 5 die of malnutrition-related causes every year.
  • 4 in 10 children in poor countries are malnourished, damaging their bodies and brains.”

These statistics are mind boggling to me. I cannot even take them in. However, I can try to do a little bit. I can strive to make a difference, when and where I can. For example, helping, and raising awareness about the excellent work Stop Hunger Now! is currently doing.

In both July and August, I wrote about the mission Stop Hunger Now! I told of one of their meal-packaging efforts at a mission conference I attended. This ministry opportunity was the 2014 service project for the New Wilmington Mission Conference (NWMC), informing and promoting active service and witness for God. A nutritious mix of rice, soy, dehydrated vegetables and flavoring mix is packed by volunteer teams for Stop Hunger Now!, and sent all over the world. For a cost of just $0.29 per meal, too! What a caring, effective way to feed the hungry, where hunger is currently devastating lives. Through this ministry, the volunteers also strive to be the hands and feet of Christ.

Stop Hunger Now! has the same goal as so many other organizations—UNICEF, World Vision, Tearfund, Lutheran World Relief, the Presbyterian Hunger Programme, Compassion International, and so many more—to work towards eliminating hunger in our world today. May God be with these many people and these many groups doing the work of God. Feeding the hungry. Giving food and drink—just as Jesus commanded in Matthew 26:35-36.

On her blog Godspace, Christine Sine has a beautiful prayer for World Food Day. It’s found at: http://godspace-msa.com/2014/10/15/its-world-food-day-prayers-and-resources/ (thanks, Christine!).

@chaplaineliza

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Being of Service? That’s Family Promise! (Feature Friday!)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, September 26, 2014

Credit - Anna Pereia Circles of Inspiration

Credit – Anna Pereia
Circles of Inspiration

Being of Service? That’s Family Promise! (Feature Friday!)

I wondered what big thing was going on at my friend’s church, every few months. Then I asked. The answer? Family Promise!

My good friend, Pastor Joe McInnes, filled me in. His church—St. John’s Lutheran, in Wilmette—is one of the host congregations for Family Promise Chicago North Shore, which helps homeless and low-income families become financially, sustainably independent. (The formal name for this worthwhile activity at the church is Interfaith Hospitality Network.) This organization is nonsectarian and interfaith, and has an excellent track record at doing what Family Promise does best: mobilizing local community members to come alongside of homeless and low-income families, helping them get back on their feet.

Loss of a breadwinner’s job, an extended period of illness, a sudden accident or even death in the family. Any one of these can be devastating to an individual or a family going through some traumatic event, or even series of events. As someone who has worked as a chaplain for most of the past ten years, I can easily see how suddenly a reduction in standard of living can happen. Even overnight, in some cases. The Family Promise website says it best, in giving us a brief, thumbnail sketch of their activities:

“We recognize that poverty is a multifaceted problem that requires a multifaceted response. We respond by integrating educational outreach, smart programming, effective policies, and the hands-on work of thousands of volunteers. We provide food, shelter, and support services for homeless families. We provide advice and advocacy for at-risk families to prevent their becoming homeless. And we educate people about poverty and the means to combat it.”

Pastor Joe is enthusiastic about how many parishioners are involved in this worthwhile program at St. John’s Lutheran Church. As he mentioned, once every three months, St. John’s offers both meals and housing for up to fourteen people. And, that’s for up to one week. Plus, what about the wonderful volunteers who gather to offer food and hospitality! The excellent location of St. John’s Church, one block from the Metra train station in downtown Wilmette and along several bus lines, offers the clients and friends of Family Promise many options. It’s good to have options.

This is a wonderful way to be of service to others. To offer the gift of hospitality and generosity, and show the love of God to others in a very tangible, loving way. What an awesome way of being kind!

@chaplaineliza

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Being Kind, Playing Soccer at the Dump! (Feature Friday!)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, June 6, 2014

soccer - work in progress @heartofathlete

soccer – work in progress
@heartofathlete

Being Kind, Playing Soccer at the Dump! (Feature Friday!)

I’m a mom. Even though my children are grown (or, in the case of my youngest, almost grown at seventeen), I still feel very much a mom. When I hear about an outreach that reaches to children and youth, I take special interest.

My friends and former missionaries Alison and Ivan introduced me to Rich and Elisa Brown, founders of IncaLink. I wrote about their outreach last Friday. IncaLink now has ministries in Peru, Ecuador and Colombia. I talked with Rich last weekend (through the miracles of modern technology—through Skype!).

While we talked, I asked Rich about how IncaLink got started. He was eager to tell me! Both he and his wife were missionary kids (MKs), growing up in South America. Early in their marriage, they both knew they were called to work as missionaries. They also knew they did not want to work with youth (Little did they know what was ahead!)

They started work for a church in Raleigh, North Carolina. The church wanted them—as youth pastors. They served four years there, also helping in short term mission outreach and trips. They transitioned to full-time missionaries, going to Lima, Peru. The work that was waiting for them there was—you guessed it—as youth pastors. After they transitioned to other youth ministries in Peru, Rich went to a large youth conference. He was moved by God to consider the garbage dump as a place of service. When he returned to his ministry in Trujillo, Peru, he thought about a possible new ministry at the dump, for a week. For a month. And then forgot about it.

Two years went by. Their denomination was preparing to close operations in Peru and move Rich and Elisa in a few months. All of a sudden, Rich remembered the garbage dump. Through a series of circumstances, Rich brought a number of Peruvian youth workers to the dump to give out pizza. This moved the youth workers intensely. Some days later, Rich made plans for a second trip to the dump, and 50 people showed up to go—some of them were atheists. They wanted to see what these Christians were doing at the dump! As Rich said, “The youth workers were poor, but they were so moved they were crying at the poverty in the dump!”

God was indeed moving in the hearts of the indigenous youth workers. Rich had a time limit imposed by the closing of his position, but this didn’t stop the other workers! They felt led to do youth ministry with youth at the dump. Initially, they started playing soccer with the youth, which led to starting other kinds of ministries. Soon they developed in depth relationships, coming alongside of the youth of the dump as they combed through the garbage, as well as teaching the youth useful skills.

This ministry started over six years ago, and Rich and Elisa left Peru shortly afterwards. But the ministry to the youth, children, women and men of the garbage dump continues. The indigenous workers have planned some long-term projects at the dump in the last few years, and successfully carried them out with the help and prayers of supporters of IncaLink, as well as many others throughout the world.

Thank God for the workers who listened to the leading to go to the dump. And be kind. Be of service.

@chaplaineliza

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