We have just spent the week celebrating love, and Christians will affirm “We know love by this, that he [Christ] laid down his life for us — and we ought to lay down our lives for one another.” But it gets harder when we read the next verses of 1 John 3. “How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help?” “Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.”
The poor, the outcast, 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 – “when I was hungry, you did not feed me.” We have the ready and easy opportunity to join with other people of faith in Manatee County to nourish hungry people.
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.
Manatee County is scheduled to walk at 1:30 p.m. Feb. 25, starting from the Palmetto United Methodist Church and walking across the 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 if the bridge walk is too long. The point is to connect with other compassionate people who care enough about human suffering to do something about it.
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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. Forty percent of the collection will assist Our Daily Bread, a local organization supplying food to those in need. 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 one hundred people, then feed just one.”
To read more about this program or to donate online, go to www.crophungerwalk.org.