FIRST-PERSON: The best way to confront hunger
EDITOR'S NOTE: Southern Baptists will observe World Hunger Sunday Oct. 13 to highlight the ministry being undertaken nationally and internationally through Global Hunger Relief (also called the World Hunger Fund).
RICHMOND, Va. (BP) -- It seems all too common to be confronted by the plaintive look of a beggar standing at a crowded intersection. "Hungry and Homeless ... Need Help" the tattered cardboard sign often reads, held just beneath an unshaven neck. "What a sad situation," you think to yourself, as you contemplate how best to help.
Being a person of Christian compassion and easily touched by the plight of others, your first impulse is to roll down your window and hand him a few bills quickly grabbed from your purse or wallet. But suddenly there is a caution in your spirit. Isn't this the same guy who has been standing here for months? Where does he live? And didn't you just read that most of the thousands of dollars collected, tax-free, by professional panhandlers on street corners across America goes to drugs and booze?
So, wondering whether you are actually helping or hurting, you either shove the bills toward the man or keep your window rolled tight. The light turns green and you drive away, struggling with mixed emotions.
What is the best way, absolutely, for a Christian to give to help relieve hunger around the world? How can you give with the certainty that a single meal is tied to a long-term strategy that ensures people also will have an opportunity to taste the Bread of Life -- Jesus?
I believe giving to Global Hunger Relief, formerly the World Hunger Fund, is the best way to bring life and the Light of the world to the starving of the world. Here is why I can make that statement with such confidence:
-- Every gift to Global Hunger Relief is utilized by Southern Baptist missionaries and their ministry partners to meet hunger needs. Sending donations directly to hunger needs is possible because Southern Baptists support their missionaries and missions outreach through the Cooperative Program and internationally through the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. Other groups may dedicate from 30 percent to 70 percent of their funds to cover administrative costs.
-- Hunger funds play an especially strategic role in taking the Good News to unengaged, unreached people groups. The vast majority of UUPGs are in parts of the world where people suffer the most from hunger needs. The only way to reach most UUPGs is through humanitarian efforts like those that use hunger funds. The strategic significance of hunger funds has risen as annual receipts have dwindled.
-- In an amazing variety of ways, hunger funds are helping combat human suffering faced by orphans and widows, refugees, victims of sex trafficking, child soldiers and those in extreme poverty without access to clean water.
-- The ultimate goal is transformed lives -- a transformation of body, mind and spirit, for today and eternity. And then new creatures share that transformation with others.
-- Giving through Global Hunger Relief is a distinctively Southern Baptist way to obey the biblical mandates to love our neighbors and help the least of these. Missionaries and their ministry partners use the funds in Gospel-centered projects that share God's love in both word and deed.
-- Global Hunger Relief funds are used both to meet crisis needs (earthquakes, floods) as well as chronic hunger needs (poverty, famine) that span generations and cross barriers and boundaries.
So, for my money, Global Hunger Relief is the best and most assured way of meeting the world hunger crisis.
Tom Elliff is president of the International Mission Board. For information and promotional resources, visit www.worldhungerfund.com and www.globalhungerrelief.com. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).