By NEMS Daily Journal
“If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,” and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.” (James 2:15-17 NRSV)
Over and over again the Bible calls us to care for the poor. God calls us to “share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house” (Isa. 58:7 NRSV). Jesus even says the impoverished are an embodiment of him, saying “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Matt. 25:40 NRSV)
“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” (Matthew 25:35-36 NRSV).
from a hunger policy statement, Church of the Brethren
The challenge of the Easter celebration is living like Jesus, effectively becoming his extensions in whatever place the Gospel can be practiced.
Mississippi, with multiple cultural ills, offers the most basic kind of opportunity: Feeding hungry people.
Not everyone in Mississippi faces what’s called “food insecurity,” but an organization called Feed America offers compelling statistics about why food banks and Christian feeding ministries must continue as daily practices in our state:
• Food insecurity exists in every county in America, ranging from a low of 5 percent in Steele County, ND to a high of 37 percent in Holmes County, Miss.
• Seven states exhibited statistically significant higher household food insecurity rates than the U.S. national average 2009-2011, which was 14.7 percent. Mississippi stands at 19.2 percent, with Arkansas.
The other leading hunger states are:
• Texas – 18.5 percent
• Alabama – 17.4 percent
• Georgia -17.4 percent
• Florida -16.2 percent
• North Carolina -17.1 percent
In a broader sweep, in 2011, “50.1 million Americans lived in food insecure households, 33.5 million adults and 16.7 million children. In 2011, 14.9 percent of households (17.9 million households) were food insecure. In 2011, 5.7 percent of households (6.8 million households) experienced very low food security. In 2011, households with children reported food insecurity at a significantly higher rate than those without children, 20.6 percent compared to 12.2 percent.
“In 2011, households that had higher rates of food insecurity than the national average included households with children (20.6 percent), especially households with children headed by single women (36.8 percent) or single men (24.9 percent), Black non-Hispanic households (25.1 percent) and Hispanic households (26.2 percent). In 2011, 8.8 percent of seniors living alone (1 million households) were food insecure.”
The directive is short and clear in scripture:
“The third time Jesus said to him, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
“Jesus said, ‘Feed my sheep.’” John 21:17