This message in Isaiah 58 was one of the central themes of A Heart for Hunger, Poverty and Fasting, a reflection we put together for a conference sponsored by the Center for Action and Contemplation in April 2010.
In the latest Bread newsletter, Bread for the World member Lynne Hybels, offers us her own wonderful reflection on Isaiah 58, in a piece entitled Am I Spending Myself? The phrase to "spend yourselves on behalf of the the hungry and satisfied the needs of the oppressed" is found in Isaiah 58:10.
If you do away with the yoke of oppression,Lynne, who with her husband Bill founded Willow Creek Community Church near Chicago, has spent time in Latin America and Africa. Check out her Web site and blog.
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.
The call to work with poor communities came partly because a friend of hers challenged her about a decade ago to read Isaiah 58 daily for 30 straight days.
Shortly after my initial Isaiah 58 challenge, I made my first visit to Africa. In a rural Ugandan village I met eight orphans living with their elderly, frail grandfather. It was late afternoon. The children had not eaten that day and there was no meal awaiting them. The meeting was unexpected, so we had brought no food for the family. In that moment I hated who I was: a privileged American seeing a desperate need and doing nothing to meet it. Of course that wasn’t my intent, but good intentions mean little. To those children, I was just one more person seeing their need and walking away.
I vowed that day I would never again be an abundantly blessed American turning my back. In subsequent trips to Africa, I have partnered relationally and financially with local churches fighting hunger and disease. In many cases it’s the poor caring for the desperately poor, the sick caring for the dying—but these radical followers of Jesus have become my heroes, giants of faith whose example humbles me.This is an inspiring story of transformation that speaks to all of us. Each of us is called to examine our ministry and remain open to where the Holy Spirit will lead us. Read full piece
(The illustration at the top comes from the Swaziland Arts and Education Web site. Please visit their site to acquire beautiful, handmade art and home accents and help educate orphans in Swaziland)