For many in the developed world, hunger is the sort of thing one may experience after skipping lunch. At least we call it hunger; sometimes there's a headache to go along with it. Real hunger makes a person unable to think clearly. Chronic hunger, according to the United Nations, is that point when the human body begins to break down its own muscle and fat to survive.
For some of us at this very moment, we are duking it out with carnality and all its snacky vices by fasting for the Lenten season, and that might leave us feeling peckish and contemplative by the day's end.
Fasting is good. It is an important spiritual discipline, no doubt.
Matthew recalled Jesus teaching people how to communicate with God through prayer and fasting and, shortly thereafter, described what was at play.
"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth where moth and rust can destroy or thieves can break in and steal," He said. "But lay up for yourself treasures in heaven where neither moth nor rust can destroy and thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
I'm not about to ask you to invest in the Texas Baptist Hunger Offering because when you get to heaven Jesus' accountant will sign over the dividends you've earned. While God is not keeping a balance sheet, He does want us to recognize money is a resource to be used to build the kingdom of God.
March is the first month this year with five Sunday mornings. For every fifth Sunday that occurs in the course of this calendar year, we are encouraging congregations and individuals to make designated financial gifts to the Texas Baptist Hunger Offering.
Funds from the Hunger Offering are dispersed in the form of a series of grants to help the work of church food pantries and longer term development projects alike. For more information about the Texas Baptist Hunger Offering, contact Jordan Corona at the Christian Life Commission by phone 512-473-2288 or be in touch by email.
Your participation strengthens our capacity to support anti-hunger and development projects across Texas and the world. One hundred percent of the funds go to feed people who do not have enough to eat and to help communities move out of poverty and into economic and social viability.
So much of working with the poor has to do with strengthening and refiguring bad economic circumstances that it may become easy to forget the way earthly currency is valued in the Kingdom of God. It is important to meet physical needs, but Jesus taught us to think of what we value in terms of how it makes our hearts nearer or further from His. Where we put our resources reveals what or who are important to us.
Christ is with the poor. And he is with us, when we are with them.
Hunger is a fascinating injustice, ever complicated, ever faceted, distinct unto every individual who suffers from not having enough to be nourished. In 2010, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations described that the Asian and Pacific geographic region, home to more than half the world's population, was also home to two-thirds of the world's population suffering from hunger.
Pastor Vongsurith Houmphahn leads the congregation at First Laotian Baptist Church in Dallas. Learn more about how he and his church work to feed orphans at a school in Laos.