About this blog:
Discussing religion, spirituality and values.
About the writers:
Amy Umble is the religion reporter for The Free Lance-Star.
Janet Marshall is the religion editor for The Free Lance-Star.
Last night, a photographer and I attended a Hunger Banquet at the University of Mary Washington. More than 50 students showed up, paid money to participate in a hunger-awareness activity. The majority got just a spoonful of plain rice for dinner. Very few–eight out of 53–ate pasta, salad and bread. A few in the middle group got rice and beans, enough for seconds. The dinner represented the distribution of wealth and food throughout the world. Organizers told the attendees to take what they learned out into the community and the world. Blythe McLean, chairperson of the campus InterVarsity Christian Fellowship’s Justice Team, told the diners to remember not just the hunger from getting only rice for dinner, but also the guilt those who got pasta felt.
I thought I’d share a few of the facts and Scriputes from the event that I couldn’t fit into today’s story:
- 2.5 billion people worldwide live in poverty, on less than $2 per day
- 37 million Americans live in poverty
- 854 million people live with chronic hunger
- 550 people in Fredericksburg are homeless
- 15 percent of the world’s population is considered "upper class." Internationally, that means living on $10,726 a year or more.
And here are some Scriptures they shared about hunger and poverty:
- Isaiah 1:17: Learn to do right, seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.
- Isaiah 61:1,2: The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn.
- 1 John 3:16-18: This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our borthers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.
McLean said: "God’s heart breaks and hurts with injustices. This is the God we can stand with to fight injustice and hunger and poverty."
During the discussion period, students talked about how it occurred to them late in the meal to share with those who got only rice. Those sitting in the fancy table said they didn’t even think about it until they saw the "middle class" diners sharing their meager meal.
Kari Wilson said she’d remember this meal next time she goes to Qdoba or Chipotle and eats too much. Now, she said, she’ll think about those who worry about getting enough to eat–not about being too full.
Another participant said she’d felt a little let-down about an $8-an-hour summer job but now realized she’d be making more per hour than most people in the world make per day.
As the photographer and I left, we talked about the passion and compassion these members of the next generation showed. Talking earlier this week with Adam Taylor, senior political director for the faith-based social justice group Sojourners, I mentioned a similar observation: Many of those working for poverty and hunger reduction are young.
Taylor said there’s definitely been a shift among younger evangelicals, to focus more on social justice issue. But the interesting twist, Taylor said, is that they’re noticing the younger generation is influencing their parents. And as those parents see the passion, the concern for the poor, they’re coming to the movement, too.