No. 701



Has there ever been a time in your life when you were really and truly hungry? This is a question only you can answer. When I was growing up, and until the present time, I have never been truly hungry, the kind where you have hunger pangs and your stomach shrinks, and for this I am grateful. Of course, being hungry is a relative term, and while we have several million people in America who are hungry, needy and deprived, this pales in comparison to what three-fourths of the world’s population experience every day of their lives. Many of these people are malnourished and live on one meal a day, and quite often have nothing at all to eat.
One of the stories that came out of the Great Depression, when a great number of our citizens were hungry and traveled all across the country trying to find work, was the “mark” on the curb. When a hobo or drifter would come to a new town and walk down the street, they would look for a “mark” on the curb in front of the homes. This mark indicated that a family lived there who would provide a meal or give them something to eat. Of course, in many cases the people who lived in these homes never knew there was a mark placed there. As it relates to hunger, there was a day in America, before the government and other providers got into the business of feeding the poor, that these needs were met by local churches. If you are old enough, you can probably remember those days.
With the downturn in our nation’s economy, lost jobs, foreclosures and unemployment numbers at record highs, we have more people than ever before who are needy, and many go hungry. The United Way, The Salvation Army, many state and local food banks, shelters and soup kitchens all struggle to meet the demand. There are also many churches still around that have a food pantry to help some of these people. I’m proud to say that my own church here in Conway is one of these providers. Our food panty was started about three years ago, and on Monday, twice a month, a group of our members meet in the morning to stock the shelves and then return in the afternoon to provide food boxes for the needy that come our way.
We are well aware that many of these people abuse the system, that is, go from one food pantry to the next, but there are also those among them who truly need help. We had rather help those who truly need help, and many have children who cannot fend for themselves, and let the Lord worry about the rest. While Viola and I have both contributed monetarily and also with food, we have never been personally involved in this ministry. However, we have a number of fellow church members who are there week after week, and they tell us that it’s a very rewarding experience. This past week our church helped to feed 159 different families.
The other day at the breakfast table, Viola and I were talking about the food pantry and I asked her this question. “Do you think the people who come to our church food pantry every two weeks ever stop to think about why our members give money to provide food to them without cost or obligation?” She said, “Maybe a few, but probably most never truly understand why we do this for them.” Well, the answer may surprise you. Sure it’s a ministry and our prayer is that at least some of these folks will visit our church and come to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior. But the real reason can be reduced to one simple word. That word is love. God is love. Because He loved us, we can love others. It’s as simple as that. It’s sad that people who swindle, cheat and steal never feel God’s wonderful love. If not already, I hope you will also help to feed the truly needy.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To support literacy, buy his book: “Learning, Earning & Giving Back.”)