I write a lot about taking care of my family because that’s how I spend a lot of my time and energy, but being prepared to care for my husband and children can also prepare me to care for others.
Jay preached on Sunday morning from Matthew 25 and specifically addressed demonstrating our faith in Jesus and our willingness to follow Him by feeding the hungry. In this case Jay meant physical hunger as well as spiritual. Jay challenged each member of the congregation to learn about, visit, donate to, and/or volunteer at a local ministry that addresses hunger in our community. Our church maintains a small food pantry in our building and supports a larger community benevolence ministry, but we are located in a major metropolitan area and there are many needs and many opportunities to minister beyond the few blocks around our church building.
So today Jay, our daughter, and I visited a local ministry that we hadn’t visited before. We asked questions and learned what they do. They actually partner with the benevolence ministry nearest our church building. The lady with whom we were speaking mentioned she had previously worked in an area school and we talked a little bit about how to spot signs of hunger in young people.
Young people who are hungry will rarely say so. They might see it as being disloyal to their family to admit they’re not getting enough to eat or they might not know how to ask for help. Signs of hunger can include acting out, often angrily, or excessive sleepiness. The lady at the ministry said she had been around it long enough that she could tell by looking at a child if hunger or homelessness was an issue.
I’ve shared with you before about car picnics and how I generally carry a stash of snacks and bottled water in my car. It occurs to me that those snacks can help not only my family, but others I may be visiting or transporting who may need to eat. Offering a snack and a bottle of water is something I do all of the time for my daughter and her friends, but it may also prove to be a way to meet an unknown need with dignity and discretion.
Taking a suggestion from another source who specializes in dealing with hunger issues, I’ve started carrying a couple of $5 fast food restaurant gift cards as well. The gift cards can be handed out through a narrow opening in a car window and can only be used at the restaurant, not at places that cater to vices. Having a gift card handy allows me to quickly offer help without being concerned that I might be feeding a destructive habit rather than an empty stomach.
Long term, Jay & I will continue to support our church missions, including not only the food pantry and local benevolence ministry, but also disaster relief organizations and schools around the world that strive to meet immediate needs and lift families out of poverty. Giving reminds us to be grateful for all we have and to thank the God who provides. Giving sometimes provides us with opportunities to feed spiritual hunger as well.
If you’re familiar with a great hunger relief ministry, please tell us about it so others can get involved!
Update: I shared this post at the Healthy Living Link Party #59. Many of the healthy foods we’d prefer have as mainstays of our diet aren’t suited to the storage conditions in a car and health food restaurants aren’t as readily accessible as fast-food places, so I obviously chose to do what was practical rather than thinking “it’s not healthy enough” and doing nothing. You make the best choice you can for your situation and we’ll still be friends, okay?
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