North Carolina Baptists are responding to the food needs of a state racked by recession.
So far in 2009, 313,962 people have received assistance from one of 83 churches/associations receiving funding for hunger ministries through the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. These ministries have received, as of Aug. 30, $134,000 from the N.C. Hunger Fund, an amount that will exceed $150,000 by year end.
World Hunger Sunday Oct. 11 is a special emphasis during which churches are encouraged to remind members of the starvation, poverty and food insecurity around them, and how churches can respond.
Southern Baptists began emphasizing World Hunger with a special offering in 1974 and since then have given more than $230 million.
World Hunger Offerings, which are distributed according to each state convention’s plan, are used to meet needs locally, within the United States and around the world.
When North Carolina Baptists give to the World Hunger Offering through the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, 60 percent goes to the World Hunger and Relief Fund of the International Mission Board (IMB), 15 percent to the Domestic Hunger Fund of the North American Mission Board (NAMB), 20 percent to the North Carolina Hunger Fund and five percent to the North Carolina Disaster/Food Fund.
Here is a look at just a few examples of how local churches are reaching out:
Community Garden, Cornerstone Fellowship, Forest City
When Cornerstone Fellowship felt God’s leading to form a community garden to reach out to Rutherford County, the 13th most financially depressed county in the nation, they began “Feed the 5000 Ministry.”
During the summer, as members of the congregation were encouraged to share food from the garden with neighbors in need, at least 20 families received food each week. When a man shared about needs in the apartments he managed he received food for 25 families.
Mission Gaston at Highland Hills, Gastonia
Wavey Williams is a physical education teacher, student at the Christopher White School of Divinity at Gardner-Webb University and minister at Mission Gaston at Highland Hills. Williams and others working with Mission Gaston serve snacks and meals to children afterschool. The hunger ministry also includes stocked food pantries, available food during emergency situations and meals/snacks during children’s Bible study. This summer, General Mills recognized Williams in their Feeding Dreams campaign as a Community Champion.
FROG Nights, Southside Baptist Church, Winston-Salem
Charlie and Violet Smith are the directors for FROG Nights: “Fully Relying on God” (FROG).
Two nights a week Southside hosts an on-site feeding program for at-risk children, many of whom are hispanic. Bible lessons, a hot meal and homework help is available for each child.
Their ministry also includes delivering food boxes to families. Southside has also started a Hispanic Bible study and worship service.
Soup Kitchen, First Baptist Church, Mooresville
Feeding nearly 3,000 people each week through their soup kitchen, members of First Baptist know they are making a difference. Recently, a family traveling through the area stopped at the soup kitchen and the father shared with the workers, “If it hadn’t been for the food I got here, my family would have gone hungry.”
Food Pantry, Calvary Baptist Church, Beaufort
Several families frequenting the Calvary Baptist Church Food Pantry are impacted by the economic hardships. One worker said he was “amazed that people are thankful for such small things.”
In addition North Carolina Hunger funds were distributed through N.C. Baptist Men in India and Ukraine.
Church planters in Bihar use bore wells to reach people for Christ. N.C. Baptist Men bought a truck with a well drilling rig which has capacity to drill a well each day. When a well is completed, the church planter has open access to tell an appreciative village about the Living Water.
Poverty is “normal” for Gypsy people but they have been hit hard by famine this year.
Pastor Janus, minister to the Gypsy people has distributed about two tons of food, provided by the North Carolina Hunger Fund, among four villages.
“When I was in one of the camps where the people told me in tears how there was no food, my heart was broken,” Janus said.
“On the way home, in secret, I was praying to God that He would somehow grant me an opportunity to help those people.
“I never thought He would answer my prayers so quickly.”
To order free resources to help promote World Hunger Sunday, such as posters, bulletin inserts and offering envelopes, write [email protected] or call (800) 395-5102 ext. 5540.