Jul 3 2008

I Hope

I hope In my ongoing personal effort to not just blow by the Day of Prayer and Fasting for the millions affected by the global food crisis and get on with life, I have committed to doing a few things that maybe some of you would like to try too!

  • First of all, I have been trying to remember to pray at each meal for those who are hungry. I thank God for what He has provided for me, and then I acknowledge that there are many who will not eat a meal today, or will not eat enough to fill them. I ask God to tenderly care for them in whatever way He chooses to do that –- even if that means leading me to do something for one or more of them (like specifically my sponsored children –- perhaps sending them a monetary family gift to help with their expenses).
  • Secondly, I have been trying to get rid of phrases from my vocabulary that are just not true. For example, I came home from work yesterday, and I was hungry. I had eaten a bagel with peanut butter for lunch, but it truly didn’t stick with me, and by 6:30 PM I was ready for dinner. I even had a headache. I walked into the house and started to say to my husband, “I’m starving!” This is a typical thing that I say every time I am really hungry. But it’s just not true –- obviously, not even close to being true. And it shows my disrespect or lack of appreciation of what it means to starve, truly starve.
  • Another phrase I am trying to get rid of is “There is nothing to eat in this house!” I think we all say that when we don’t like or don’t feel like eating what is in our refrigerators, cupboards, and canisters. Other than when I have moved into a new place and haven’t yet unpacked the moving boxes, I don’t think I have even had a moment in any house I have lived in where there is truly nothing at all to eat. When I look in the cupboards and feel tempted to complain, I am trying to instead utter a quick word of thanksgiving for what God has graciously provided for me.
  • Finally, I am trying to gather together with others on a regular basis to pray for those who are hungry, and to help keep the awareness of this issue in front of my neighbors and friends. It is easy for all of us to get on with our lives and forget this silent tsunami. I want to help keep it in the forefront of people’s minds and hearts so they can be open to acting as God leads them.

On the Day of Fasting and Prayer for the Global Food Crisis, I ended my day with a gathering at my house after work. I had announced an open invitation the previous Sunday at my church, inviting anyone who wanted to come. I emailed friends, co-workers, and neighbors about it. Thirteen people showed up.

We prayed from 6:00 to 7:00 PM, and then we broke our 24-hour fast with a simple meal of rice and beans, water and unsweetened iced tea. No dessert, no fancy beverages. No veggies or meat in the rice. We had seasoned salt and a can of Creole seasoning though, and most of us used a lot of that!

The evening was a powerful time of prayer and a wonderful time of community. It had the feel of doing something important, something meaningful. Even though it was really very, very simple.

One lady brought her two sons, ages 5 and 7. She had prepared them for the day through a great learning experience that I am sure they will long remember. She took them to Denver the previous day for a typical summer, American kid fun day out. They ate lunch at a fast food restaurant, they got ice cream, they went to the museum, they played in a park. But there was a catch. They kept a log of what they ate and how much they spent.

The next morning, the day of prayer, they watched an online movie produced by the Washington Post (Becky wrote about this and linked to the video two weeks ago) about two families in Mauritania and what they had to do to provide food for their families given the current increase in prices. In the movie, the mother made rice pudding for her family — rice, with sugar and some oil and water. That was what they had to eat. That was all.

So, my friend Lisa made rice pudding with her boys according to the recipe used by the lady in Mauritania. They each ate a half cup of it for breakfast, a half cup for lunch and then came to my house for rice and beans for dinner. Afterward, Lisa took time to talk through with her boys about how they felt. She helped them consider the differences in the quantity and variety of foods they ate on Tuesday in Denver when they ate like “normal Americans” and then on Wednesday as they ate like a lot of the rest of the world. They discussed the amount spent and how much less the large amount they spent on Tuesday was for their family’s income versus how much the small amount spent on Wednesday would have been for the family in Mauritania.

Perhaps you will want to try this or something similar with your children or your niece or next door neighbor’s child (assuming their parents approve!) Children can be taught at an early age to be compassionate and caring for those in need. Lessons like this one can set a firm foundation upon which a life of reaching out and being sensitive and responsive to the needs of others can be built.

As soon as I finish this post, I am going to send out an e-mail to my friends, neighbors and church family to report on our day of prayer gathering and to ask folks to do it again next week.

  • I hope others come.
  • I hope we get repeat participants.
  • I hope we get too big to fit in my house and have to spill out onto my deck!
  • I hope some more little kids come so their parents can help form their little hearts to love like Jesus loves!

Stay posted and I’ll let you know how it goes. Or better yet, try your own event and let us know how yours went!

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  1. Jul 3, 2008
    at 8:47 am

    Wow! I am impressed with your dedication to this. Those are wonderful ideas. I pray that your house will be overflowing, too!

  2. Sarah
    Jul 3, 2008
    at 12:20 pm

    What great ideas! That really makes me realize how much I take food for granted. Now everytime I eat I will pray for children around the world who have no food. Thanks for the helpful ideas!

  3. Gail M
    Jul 3, 2008
    at 12:29 pm

    I’ve found myself saying the same things – there’s nothing to eat, I’m starving, chicken again! I will try to replace those words with a prayer for those who truly have nothing to eat. Thanks for sharing your tips.

  4. Jul 3, 2008
    at 2:01 pm

    Thank you Regina for filling my belly with some nourishing guidance and wisdom.

    cd

  5. Jul 3, 2008
    at 8:15 pm

    These are fabulous ideas! Thank you for challenging me to be more thankful for what I have and mindful of others.

  6. Jul 4, 2008
    at 9:36 am

    I agree, Regina: These are good ideas. I think I know what fasting might look like for me…I was going to say, next year; but with so many people literally starving every day, I’m thinking a year is too long to wait. Once a month, maybe…. I’ll need lots of encouragement from friends, and God’s leading–will my doing this be pleasing to Him, or a meaningless gesture?

  7. Miriam
    Jul 4, 2008
    at 1:16 pm

    Although most famines are actually not caused by a lack of food, only lack of distribution, this famine seems to be different. Reports from the field state that even normally middle class, self-sustaining people in other countries can’t afford food any more. It appears that if there aren’t actual shortages of rice, corn, wheat and beans now, there soon will be.

    We live in a land of plenty not just because we grow a lot of food, which we do, but also because we have the where-with-all to pull world resources in our direction. That same ability can, if we choose, give us the where-with-all to shove those same resources in a different direction.

    In light of this, I have resolved to do the following:

    1. Place a moratorium on the purchase of rice, corn, wheat and beans and anything made from them. Of course that turns out to be a very long list of items I will not be purchasing from the grocery store. Just think of how many things we eat have those items in them. Potatoes are under consideration for the moratorium currently.

    2. Place a moratorium on the purchase of items grown in another country because the same fuel used to ship them here could have been used to ship them where they are more needed. In this region, that mostly means no out of season fresh produce, although there are some items I will simply not be able to purchase because of the moratorium.

    3. The items I am not purchasing will not be immediately replaced with something else. The first order of business is to make what’s in the house last as long as possible and grow for myself what I can. There isn’t any point in wasting items already purchased. I only rent an apartment, but the plants and I will share the living space as well as possible. If it comes to that, I know exactly how much weight I can lose without getting sick, not that I need to lose any. Of course, my getting sick wouldn’t help anyone.

    4. When I do need something to eat and have to buy something, I will be buying more expensive items that the other half of the world can’t afford. The purpose of this isn’t to save me money, but to do what I can to keep cheaper items at a price others might be able to afford. The side of supply and demand I have the most control over is the demand side, so why would I eat the self same beans that someone else is starving for? It definitely wouldn’t help them, no matter how I felt about it.

    5. I am also fasting as much as possible from fuel. I was pretty much doing that already since I don’t own a car and my backpack is my best friend. (Who needs a gym when you can carry 4 gallons of water or 16 bricks home on your back?) Still, I won’t be leaving town this year. My family wants to see me, but I think they can live with phone calls and letters.

    6. Giving to funds like the Global Food Crisis fund with organizations doing something about the problem. Reducing consumption wouldn’t do as much good if I don’t give to help defray fuel costs, just as the reverse is also true. They are two sides of the same coin.

    None of these resolutions has the purpose of making me feel good or making anyone think well of me. And no, it won’t be a sacrifice. Giving up something for someone else is only a sacrifice if you count it so. Giving up something for someone you love is a joy, so I count it a joy. After all, you don’t even need to know a person’s name or face to love them with God’s love. Many of those suffering are my brothers and sisters in Christ, or if they aren’t are people my Father in Heaven would love to adopt. So I’m doing this to help my family as much as I can.

    I don’t know how many people I will be able to influence to do the same. The more who do it the greater the effect, but people seem to shy away from making the hard choices. Mental gymnastics only help if they spur you to greater action. It’s the action that makes a difference.

    So the fast isn’t up for me. My life won’t return to normal for 2 to 4 years, I calculate. All I know is, I’m in it for the long haul.

  8. […] Regina Hopewell’s follow-up — “I Hope” […]

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