Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Three Prophets Speak about Faithfulness

The last election could make our advocacy efforts to address hunger and poverty a little more difficult.  There is a strong chance that the next Congress will place a high priority on spending cuts.  There is also some sentiment out there that our country's foreign policies might become a bit more isolationist.

This does not mean that we should throw up our hands and stand on the sidelines.  On the contrary.  God works miracles every day.  And we tend to see them more during times of adversity.   God calls us to be faithful no matter what.  Our goal is not victory for the sake of victory, but God's desire that we show faithfulness by acting on behalf of our brothers and sisters.

God accomplishes the most, not when we work for him, but when we become faithful and obedient enough for him to work "through" us, says Richard Neill Donovan in a sermon published in Lectionary.org   The author bases his comments on Isaiah 6:1-8

I would like to share some words of wisdom and hope  from three people with links to Bread for the World.  Those of us who are long-time Bread for the World activists are familiar with all three of them.  But I'm sure you know at least two of them.

David Beckmann
This comment was published in the Birmingham News on Sunday, Nov 7, entitled Ending Hunger Requires Political Change
Ending hunger in our time is possible, but it will require ordinary citizens -- especially people of faith -- to work with their legislators to change the politics of hunger.

Take the story of Pat Pelham and Elaine VanCleave of Birmingham.

In the late 1990s, they were moved to help hungry people in Africa. After attending a meeting with me at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church, they organized a hunger committee at Independent Presbyterian in Birmingham and invited their member of Congress, Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Vestavia Hills, to an event at which I was speaking. Several years later, Our Lady of Sorrows asked people to sign a petition to support debt cancellation for poor countries. Pelham and VanCleave flew to Washington, D.C., to deliver the petition to Bachus, who went on to become Congress's most effective advocate for debt relief for the world's poorest countries.

This is the type of power we all have to change the politics of hunger. I am calling on all people -- no matter what your faith is -- to do the same.
Art Simon
 Bread for the World's Offering of Letters in 2011 will refocus our efforts to reform foreign aid.  We will again push to ensure that our foreign aid gives priority to poverty-focused development assistance.

Even though it seems at times like we're spinning our wheels, there are many examples where we've made a difference.  Take for example, Bread's role in the crisis in Ethiopia in 1983, as described by Art Simon in his book The Rising of Bread for the World.
In 1983, we began getting reports of a serious food shortage in Ethiopia, which was gradually turning into a catastrophic regional famine, so we began to campaign for emergency U.S. aid.  We got there well ahead of the national media, which had not yet given coverage to the famine.   In addition to alerting members, we convened a national one-day summit on the African crisis that drew representatives from forty-seven church-related agencies
We later did a media blitz in 30 cities, led by our media specialist Cureton Johnson.  The public response to those efforts prompted Congress and the administration to move more quickly with increased U.S. assistance.
Cureton Johnson
The Cureton Johnson mentioned by Art in his book went on to great things after he left Bread.  Cureton, who is a pastor at First Baptist Church in Fayetteville, N.C., recently published a book entitled Bible-based Spiritual Stimulus Plan

Here is part of the promotion for the book
Does your spirit ever grow weary from all the social, political, economic, and environmental stress of our post-Great Recession nation? Want some good news to sustain your hopes, optimism, and a consistent over comer attitude?
The publisher, WinePress Books, describes the book as as heaven's Mapquest pointing God's people to victorious living in the 2010s decade."

The Plan is a virtual 'revival in a book,' offering a prophetic voice of encouragement to all  iving in this breathtaking world of change! Its 12 key scriptural stimuli help fashion readers into God's masterpieces for good in society,  adds the publisher.

Here are a few examples of spiritual stimulii:
  • Alligator Courage: The author, in a small boat on a storm-tossed river containing alligators (caimans) in Guyana, shows us the power of Psalm 121.
  • Your Holy DNA: Tap into your holy DNA that carries wonderful spiritual resources. The author tells you how! Old things pass away and behold you become new creations in Christ Jesus!
  • Joy--A Yummy Recipe: Discover how a pineapple-upside-down-cake can change your life! "Taste and see that the Lord is good" every day (Psalm 34).
  • Spiritual Blind Dates: You never know when God will put you in a particular place, at a particular time, with a particular person, for a particular reason. Get ready to walk through doors of opportunity! God used a dog on Dr. Johnson.
  • Kindness/Vitamin K: Kindness produces ripple effects of good works, like a stone thrown into a lake makes ripples on the water. Kindness is a doorway into the Kingdom of God. Find out how a young girl in scripture is a perfect example for us to use this gracious gift. 

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