Freely, Freely

Read: Deuteronomy 15:7-11

Last night as I watched the evening news I was struck by a story from the small country in Africa of Lesotho.  It was about the terrible drought that is taking place there due to this year’s El Nino weather patterns.  Water and food are so scarce that many are dying with no relief in sight.  The news story focused on a grandmother who is trying to raise her 5 grandchildren who have been orphaned because of Aids.

They live in a small mud hut that is maybe a quarter of the size of most of our garages.  Her garden for food is dried up and the nearby river is dried up as well.  But in this news story she and the children seemed to be so loving and caring for each other as well as those around them.  If you would like to see the story I am providing the link here.

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/el-nino-drought-leaves-millions-hungry-in-southern-africa/

In Deuteronomy 15 and many other places in scripture we are encouraged to be open handed and freely help those in need.  In verse 7 it says, “Do not be hardhearted or tightfisted.”  As Christians we are called to do what we can to help the poor in our neighborhoods and around the world.  We can’t make a difference by ourselves but we can if we all do our part.  Too often we get comfortable in our North American lifestyle and forget about the many people in need like the family that was highlighted in this news story.

Here are some other stats I ran across about world hunger…..

  1. Hunger is the world’s number 1 health risk; it kills more people every year than AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined.
  2. Some 925 million people do not have enough to eat.
  3. Ninety-eight percent of them live in the developing world.
  4. One in seven people in the world will go to bed hungry tonight.
  5. There are more hungry people in the world than the combined populations of the U.S., Canada, and the European Union.
  6. Undernutrition contributes to five million deaths of children under five each year in developing countries.
  7. If we took the money Americans spend annually on potato and tortilla chips ($13.6 billion), we could reach 90 percent of stunted children in the 36 highest-burden countries.
  8. Worldwide, 115 million children under the age of 5 are underweight.
  9. The Asian and Pacific regions contain over half the world’s population and nearly two-thirds of the world’s hungry people.
  10. Supplementation with vitamins could reduce the risk of child mortality from all causes by 23 percent.

As I am writing this I am reminded of the favorite song the church has sung through the years.  The words go something like this, “Freely, Freely, you have received, Freely, Freely, give!”

I would like to encourage you to think of ways to help.  Mennonite Central Committee, World Vision, Compassion International, and many other reputable Christian organizations are trying to make a difference in these areas around the world.  If you don’t already give a monthly contribution to help the hungry, poor, and destitute around the world I would like to encourage you to consider it.  They need our help and Jesus teaches us to help them.  Even if you start with a small amount and work up to a larger amount, your part will make a difference.

Make it personal:  Watch the news story provided above and try to imagine what it would be like to live like this grandmother and her 5 grandchildren do.  My hope and prayer is that it will encourage all of us to do something on an ongoing basis to make a difference in this world that we live in.

Have a blessed week,  Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church