As COVID-19 travels around the globe, it has created a food crisis for much of the developing world. Spread of the disease and the ensuing lockdowns affected supply chains as well as humanitarian support according to a report from WORLD Magazine.
In South Asia, economic shutdowns hit day-laborers in the suburbs between major cities and rural towns especially hard. Most of their job opportunities – as drivers, construction workers and custodians – were put on hold, making it difficult or even impossible to find work.
In response to this crisis, Send Relief ministry partners in the region, with financial assistance from Global Hunger Relief, served the neediest of families by putting together packages of food, medicine and personal protection equipment to help prevent spread of coronavirus.
One local partner was able to make several trips to a village in South Asia, delivering enough rice and lentils during each trip to provide two weeks’ worth of meals. The recipients were a tribal people group who had yet to hear about Jesus.
“This area that was once opposed to Christianity has been thankful for the generosity of Christians, thankful for the life-saving food and open to have the pastor come back to share more of the message with them in the future,” said a ministry partner familiar with the work.*
So far in 2020, Global Hunger Relief funded 105 projects in South Asia that provided food for more than 175,000 people. Nearly 48,000 people heard the gospel, and 1,211 people decided to follow Jesus.
“For more than 40 years, Southern Baptists have been fighting the global hunger crisis, transforming communities and lives all around the world through Global Hunger Relief funds,” said Paul Chitwood, president of the International Mission Board (IMB). “Internationally, projects funded through Global Hunger Relief help feed hungry people in poverty or in the aftermath of a terrible disaster. They also fund long-term projects like clean water, agriculture education and production so that people can have more nutritious food and job skills training so that people can earn a better income to provide for their families.”
In North America, Send Relief sends Global Hunger Relief dollars to state Baptist conventions to fund ministries that fight hunger and share the hope of Jesus Christ.
The Colorado Baptist General Convention, for example, utilizes funds from Global Hunger Relief to support more than a dozen food pantries in the state that operate primarily out of churches, such as Southeast Baptist Church in Colorado Springs and Lynn Gardens Baptist Church in Pueblo.
In the second quarter of 2020, a local ministry called The Hands of God Ministry reported distributing more than 100,000 pounds of food through locations in Sugar City, Colo., and La Junta, Colo., as residents dealt with the impact of COVID-19.
Several state Baptist conventions across North America utilize Global Hunger Relief funds from Send Relief to support numerous food pantries operated by churches or through other local ministries.
“Hundreds of millions of people around the world were already suffering from hunger and malnutrition even before COVID-19, but the pandemic has turned this into a massive human crisis,” Send Relief President Bryant Wright said. “Responding to food needs is a priority for us at Send Relief, and we’re so thankful for the help and incredible generosity of Southern Baptists and their support of Global Hunger Relief. This helps us truly be Great Commission Baptists in sharing the gospel with all people.”
Since the North American Mission Board (NAMB) and IMB partnered in the area of compassion ministry through Send Relief, they have facilitated work around the globe with the assistance of resources from Global Hunger Relief.
This year, Global Hunger Sunday, which is an opportunity for Southern Baptist churches to raise awareness of the need and encourage people to donate, has been scheduled for Oct. 11, and churches are encouraged to collect an offering to support the work of Global Hunger Relief.
“This offering allows us to meet hunger needs through Southern Baptist partners throughout North America,” NAMB president Kevin Ezell said. “In the process, we’re sharing the Good News that will meet the even greater need that every person has. We are grateful for every gift and we put it to use where it is most needed.”
The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) has also been a key partner in the work of Global Hunger Relief, raising awareness and sponsoring events designed to support the ministry.
“In our culture, where food is assumed, it is all too easy for Christians to forget those in vulnerable situations,” ERLC president Russell Moore said. “Thankfully, Southern Baptists have a legacy of giving generously and investing effectively to take aim at the critical hunger needs around the world. This is a blessing from Christ that allows our churches to do real, tangible acts of mercy for the cause of the gospel.”
To learn more about Global Hunger Sunday or donate to Global Hunger Relief, visit globalhungerrelief.org.
*Name withheld for security reasons.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Brandon Elrod writes for the North American Mission Board.)