Disclaimer: First and foremost I would like to say this is not an anti-international mission trips post. I wholeheartedly believe supporting the less fortunate in other countries is totally a God-sanctioned activity, and I look forward to spending more time serving internationally. So for the three or so individuals who actually read my blog, if you have a passion for an international ministry, please don't feel the need to explain the beauty of serving Christ internationally. I've got your back, and believe in what you do!
Now that I have placed the disclaimer out there, I want to speak to a hidden enemy in America that weighs heavily on my heart. When I speak to people about serving the less fortunate in places outside of the U.S., we immediately see other countries have a monopoly on Church missions. While the less fortunate in this country are considered unmotivated to do better, and the federal government's problem. There is an underlying school of thought that disdainfully proclaims, I pay taxes that deal with "those people". I have recently been forced to examine my heart even more closely when it comes to this topic. Does it really annoy me that much? Has my heart really been broken for the less fortunate in my own backyard? If so, what am I going to do about it?
Don't get me wrong, I give to worthy causes, and have even co-started an initiative with my friend Ryan called the Arimathea Project (http://www.arimatheaproject.org) designed to empower folks with a skill set to combat poverty and the mindset that goes along with it. But, am I really so far removed from my days of growing up in East Austin, where I found myself going to bed hungry many nights? Apparently, I am, because I found myself remarking to someone a few nights ago, "I am starving!" Immediately, I caught myself. That statement was so far from the truth. Even if I would have said, "I am really hungry", it still would have been a false statement. The irony of those words often coming out of our mouths, as we walk into restaurants. Yet there are millions of people in this country who face having to make decisions daily about where their next meal will come from or even if it will come at all.
Interesting Facts about Hunger in America
Over 15% of American's will run out of food and money in a given month and have to seek help.
Hunger hinders a child's ability to learn, thus impacting their future.
(A kid that can't learn drops out of school. In my old neighborhood that inevitably led to some sort of criminal activity. "Poverty is the parent of revolution and crime." - Aristotle)
It's not only children. 32.6 million adults/16 million children live in food-insecure households.
The most likely person to go hungry is a single working mother.
(Federal programs ensure kids eat at school, but what about the parents?)
There is a growing number of seniors who have to choose between food and medicine.
40% of the food we produce in this country is ultimately thrown away.
Only 14% of children receiving federal assistance at school, participate in summer feeding programs.
While I feel like those numbers are staggering considering the sheer amount of wealth that this country possesses. I personally feel that what is reported could possibly be a bit low. I remember the shame associated with not having anything to eat growing up. I didn't let many people know about what was going on at home, because:
1.) I felt embarrassed and
2.) I didn't trust the people asking the questions.
Someone has to do something about hunger in the U.S. The federal government is not going to be able to handle it on its own. I pray that the words I shared in this post will prick hearts and cause some folks to jump in the game.
"I have the audacity to believe that people everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for the minds and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits."-- Martin Luther King, Jr.
I would love to hear your thoughts on poverty here in the U.S. Please don't make blanket statements, and point fingers, that was not the intent of this post. I would rather dialogue about how grass-root efforts can be formulated by the citizens of this great country to help fight against the enemy, hunger here in America.