Global Hunger Sunday, Oct. 10, offers Southern Baptists the chance to emphasize and encourage the hunger relief efforts taking place through missionaries and volunteers around the world.
“Global Hunger Relief [GHR] funds help provide for food pantries in our inner-cities here in the U.S., they provide meals to children in after-school programs and provide food for people after major disasters,” said Paul Chitwood, International Mission Board president. “Internationally, GHR funds feed hungry people caught in the web of poverty or in the aftermath of a terrible disaster.”
Beyond the great hunger needs that already existed around the world, the COVID-19 pandemic brought a new set of challenges related to poverty and hunger for communities across the globe.
Send Relief is providing both practical hunger relief and gospel witness through its Global Hunger Relief initiative.
Two such examples of GHR’s ministry come from areas near South America and South Asia.
In South America, GHR responded practically to the current migrant crisis in Venezuela. Around 5,000 people flee the country each day, and some experts estimate the number of refugees fleeing from Venezuela could cross 7 million in 2021.
Through funds provided through the Cooperative Program, GHR representatives are able to serve 200-300 meals a day, including fresh water, to migrants waiting for relocation opportunities. Thus far, more than 30,000 people have received food through the ministry.
The ministry operates through a three-story mission house, and representatives said the resources provided include food, water, laundry services, on-site medical care and the opportunity to be prayed for and hear the gospel.
GHR staff report sharing the gospel with more than 50,000 Venezuelan refugees, with nearly 17,500 committing their lives to Christ.
In South Asia, local partners are using GHR funds to provide emergency relief aid to families struggling during COVID-19 lockdowns.
Through the ministry of these local partners, hundreds of migrants heard the gospel for the first time, with 50 reportedly making decisions for Christ. More than 20 bible study groups have begun through the ministry as well.
One migrant named Samira expressed her gratitude for the relief provided by GHR.
“I am a poor widow with no one to look after me, and I was having a hard time finding food,” she said. “I have a friend who knows the Lord Jesus, and she came to my house to give me several gifts. I was so happy and have been very blessed – thank God!”
These are just some examples of the ministry of GHR to a needy world, as nearly 800 million people are undernourished and every year, 3.1 million children under five die because of poor nutrition.
Chitwood praised the work of GHR in a video, calling the ministry “one of the best kept secrets of Southern Baptists.”
He explained the work of GHR impacted more than 5,000 communities around the world in the year 2020. Within those communities, more than 500,000 people were provided food and more than 150,000 Southern Baptist volunteers participated in the efforts.
He encouraged Southern Baptists to take up a special offering on Global Hunger Sunday to support the work of GHR as a ministry of Send Relief, and he emphasized the importance of the ministry is not merely physical. Spiritual needs are met as well.
“The best thing is not only do hungry people get access to food,” he said, “all of this work was done in a way to help share the hope that is found in Jesus, the true bread of life.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Timothy Cockes is a Baptist Press staff writer. This story contains reporting contributions from Evelyn Adamson, a writer for IMB, and Natalie Sarrett, a staff writer for Send Relief.)