End hunger and all forms of malnutrition by 2030. How? By addressing food waste, poor agriculture practices and environmental degradation.
Every year 3 million children die unnecessarily from malnutrition. It’s a shocking and shameful reality. A reality which God calls His people to respond to through out the Bible. In Matthew 25 vs 31-46 we’re left with no uncertainty that feeding the hungry is at the heart of Jesus’ Kingdom vision.
Ending Poverty and Hunger by the United Nations
+ THEOLOGICAL REFLECTION
Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry... John 6:35
Few things are as basic a human need as food. Despite our incredible advances in technology and how far we are removed from the world of the Bible, human beings still need to eat now, just as much as then. It seems extraordinary that still so many do not get the nutrition they need. Biblical faith cannot help but be appalled and energised by such a situation.
But progress is being made. Since 2000, approx 290m people have been lifted out of extreme hunger, that’s a 4% drop, representing a reduction of almost a third. However it still leaves 790 million people hungry, that’s more than 1 in 10 of the worlds population, and far more, 1 in 4 of the world under 5’s have stunted growth, almost exclusively due to malnutrition.
Jesus’ famous ‘I am...’ statement identified himself absolutely with basic, life giving sustenance. Of course he was referring to more than physical food here but, lest we be tempted to over spiritualise, we might ally it to numerous other verses where the material is paramount:
“…if you spend yourselves on 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.” Isaiah 58:10
In few places does the spiritual manifest itself in the material more readily and obviously than in bread, and, it might well be argued, even more so when offered to the hungry than when broken over the altar. To feed the hungry, like so much of the alleviation of poverty, is far more than just a recommended act of charity. It is a participation in the activity and the heart of God, an engagement in the ministry of Jesus and a building of His kingdom. Bread features so often, in the Old Testament and New, in this symbolic as well as practical way, that it is not difficult to see how feeding the hungry is an act of worship and a commitment of discipleship. From the offering of the young boy at the feeding of the 5,000, to the stunning realisation on the Emmaus Road, to feed and to share has always been to reveal the power of the living God. This goal, focussing as it does on food waste, sustainable agriculture, food security, even obesity and eating disorders, provides a whole myriad of possibilities for engaging with that power.
+ DISCUSSION POINTS
- Pick your favourite meal. Where do the ingredients come from and how far do they travel?
- How do you react to the statistics here? Could we do better?
- What does it mean to you that Jesus is the Bread of Life?
- Do you think the Bible has anything to say about the production and consumption of food?
- What do you think are the biggest issues around food in your community?
+ GOAL 2 IN ACTION
Ending hunger is about filling stomachs, of course. Yet it is also about feeding minds in such a way that people become empowered and communities are transformed. A missional approach to ending hunger is necessarily holistic – involving our relationships with each other, the planet and God.
CMS are enthusiastically supporting people in mission, called to help this need. Whether it is Eric and Sandra Read running a sustainable guava farm in the Philippines or CMS-Africa promoting the Farming God’s Way programme; or Anna and Chris Hembury who have simply started a shared food garden in a formerly derelict space in Hull, UK – you will notice that all CMS people in mission who are tackling hunger are doing so in the context of building genuine relationships with people in their local communities. There is a lesson for all of us in this: wherever we are, we can all do something about ending hunger in a way that is considerate of people, the planet and God.
+ WHAT CAN I DO ABOUT IT?
Personal – Choose to be a conscientious buyer. For instance, buy locally and buy a sensible volume that avoids unnecessary waste.
Local – Support a local food bank.
International – Support CMS’ efforts on