The first words of Jesus as he began his ministry were a quote from the Prophet Isaiah, 18 "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." (Luke 4, NRSV)
The poor and hungry were often the focus of Jesus’ attention, and he was clear in his guidance — that we should be helpful to those in need. Read his judgment of the nations in Matthew 25. You have the opportunity to join with other people of faith in Manatee County to engage in helping the very ones whom Jesus would put first on his list.
Church World Service was born 70 years ago, right after World War II. Seventeen Christian denominations came together to work on this mission: to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, heal the sick, comfort the aged, shelter the homeless.
The hunger wing of this organization became known as CROP, an acronym for Christian Rural Overseas Program. These days, people walk and run for many worthy causes, but CROP was one of the first such walking programs for raising awareness and funds. There are more than 1,000 CROP Hunger Walks in the United States each year to address one of the greatest problems in our world.
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The Manatee County CROP Walk is Feb. 26, starting at 2 p.m. from the Palmetto United Methodist Church and walking across the Green Bridge and back. While we love to have groups from congregations, we are also very eager to have individual participants. You can walk around the church property or across the bridge. The point is to connect with other compassionate people who care enough about human suffering to do something about it.
Invite your friends and family to contribute to your CROP Walk or bring your own $25-$100. Every dollar provides about six pounds of food for hungry people. Twenty-five percent of the collection will assist Our Daily Bread, a local organization feeding about 250 people each day of the year. The rest will make life easier for refugees and other hungry people around the world through Church World Service.
You may feel helpless to effect change in many of the social ills that plague our community, our country and the world. But this one thing you could do: You could take what you would spend on a nice dinner out, and bring it to the CROP Hunger Walk so that a hungry child might be nourished through your generosity.
People of goodwill, of any faith tradition or no faith at all, are welcome to participate. As Mother Teresa once said, “If you cannot feed 100 people, then feed just one.”
To read more about this program or to donate online, go to crophungerwalk.org.
The Rev. Elizabeth Deibert: 941-753-7778 Peace Presbyterian Church, 12705 State Road 64, Lakewood Ranch. Email edeibert@peacepcusa. Faith Matters is a regular feature of Saturday’s Herald, written by local clergy members.