The Bible and the Offering of Letters

Bread for the World is a collective Christian voice urging our nation’s decision makers to end hunger at home and abroad. Moved by God’s grace in Jesus Christ, we reach out to our neighbors, whether they live in the next house, the next state, or on the next continent.

Pastors, priests, and ministers—those who preach on the Scriptures weekly— are among the best leaders in getting their congregations to engage in advocacy. Photo: Joe Molieri / Bread for the World

Jesus' Compassion

In the Gospels, Jesus was compassionate to all people, especially the widow, the orphan, the stranger, the hungry, the poor — those most vulnerable in society.

Jesus loved all people, rich and poor, and actively cared for those in need. He urged his disciples to do the same.

As followers of Christ, we are called to proclaim and embody God’s reconciling love at all times and in all places.

We work to end hunger and poverty in our communities, in our country, and in other countries. Can we bring to life God’s vision of a world in which people “hunger no more, and thirst no more”?

South African Youth Day, Amawz’Entombi reunion. Photo courtesy of Kimberly Burge.

We are Called into Community

Throughout Scripture, God calls people into community and sets the expectation that leaders (whether they are kings, pharaohs, or elected officials) should care for their people.

Therefore, we also reflect God’s love by challenging individuals and institutions that have the power to change laws and structures that keep people vulnerable.

As God’s hands and feet in the world, we work toward a beloved community in which every person has an equal opportunity to thrive.

The Offering of Letters is one opportunity for Christians to live out this commitment. It invites us to be good stewards,using our voices to encourage our elected representatives to take the necessary steps to end hunger.

As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourself with Christ

Galatians 3:27

Atlas Program Helps Individuals and Families Establish and Build Beneficial Relationships. Photo: Bread for the World

A Biblical Reflection on Surviving and Thriving

At the very beginning of the Scriptures, we hear that we are created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27). Throughout the Bible, we hear that we are precious to God. Our lives are truly a gift from God, and – through our efforts — God cares for all who share that gift of life.

Tragically, though, life for many women and children ends early, and they die unnecessarily. Every two minutes, a woman dies from complications in pregnancy or childbirth. Despite tremendous progress, a child dies somewhere every five seconds, and often the major causes are preventable diseases and malnutrition. Many children who do survive suffer from stunting, which causes lifelong health problems and irreversible damage to their physical and cognitive development.

Isaiah and other prophets challenged Israel — and us today — to practice “right worship.” The worship God desires is that we seek justice and share our bread with the hungry (Isaiah 56-58). In the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, we see how Mary and Joseph protect and care for the young Jesus. Later in the Gospels, Jesus repeatedly heals people suffering from disease (Luke 4:40-41 and 6:17-19). In response to a Gentile woman’s persistent pleas and remarkable faith, Jesus heals her daughter (Mark 7:24-30).

Fresh radishes are processed by volunteers before being packed for distribution to food hub clients. Joseph Terranova for Bread for the World

Caring for People who are Vulnerable

Today, we follow Jesus’ lead in caring for people who are vulnerable in our world — especially new mothers and their young children. Nearly half of all childhood deaths before age 5 are caused by malnutrition. Ending this needless tragedy requires continued improvements in nutrition for women and children during the 1,000 days from pregnancy to the child’s second birthday.

In saving the lives of women and children, we live out the prayer that Jesus taught us: that God’s will be done on earth as in heaven, that all may have daily bread (Luke 11:1-4). In Isaiah 65:17-23, we hear that God will “create new heavens and a new earth….No more shall there be in it an infant that lives but a few days….They shall not labor in vain or bear children for calamity.” As we join efforts to help mothers and children survive and thrive, we are part of God’s vision of a world in which people “hunger no more, and thirst no more” (Revelation 7:16).

To achieve this new reality, we will need to engage in advocacy. We must urge our nation’s leaders to support programs that help women and infants survive childbirth and early childhood and thrive beyond that.

Mother and child in Zambia. Joseph Molieri/Bread for the World.

We Know What Works

Fortunately, proven steps — like providing nutritious food and showing how to prepare it, food supplements, pre-natal and post-natal care, hygiene, and vaccines and medications — can have a huge impact. Implementing these basic measures of development will save the lives of 15 million children and 600,000 women by 2020. Safe births and better nutrition for young children will also help break the cycle of hunger and poverty.

The U.S. government must provide leadership to see that these steps are taken and these programs are funded. Psalm 72, Jeremiah 22, and Proverbs 31:8-9 speak to responsibility of people in power to care and sustain all people created in God’s image. Bread for the World’s 2016 Offering of Letters will urge Congress to provide this leadership and funding.

Putting our faith in God’s promise that “as many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourself with Christ” (Galatians 3:27), we are inspired and equipped to be bold in urging our elected officials to take this action. Moved by God’s grace in Jesus Christ, we can play a role in helping every mother and child achieve their God-given potential.

No more shall there be ... an infant that lives but a few days

Isaiah 65:17

2.5 million more children are surviving since 2008 in 24 countries thanks to USAID efforts. Graphic by Doug Puller / Bread for the World

People in thousands of churches and faith communities across the U.S. write letters to their members of Congress, urging their support of programs that end hunger and poverty. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the main agency in the federal government responsible for humanitarian aid overseas, operates programs across the globe. Graphic by Doug Puller / Bread for the World

Tools
from our Resource Library

For Education

For Faith

  • The Bible on Health as a Hunger Issue

    A brief examination of the biblical approach to health as a hunger issue.

    Includes an introduction to the issue, a Scriptural reflection, practical actions you can take, and a prayer.

  • Sermon by David Beckmann at Duke University Chapel

    Remarks delivered October 1, 2017 at Duke University Chapel in Chapel Hill in North Carolina.

    Thank you for inviting me to preach here at Duke University Chapel. And I especially want to thank the Bread for the World members who have come this morning.

    Bruce Puckett urged...

  • Bread Newsletter January 2016

    In this issue: Another Great Year for Bread; Catholics Begin Observance of Holy Year of Mercy; Serving on ‘God’s Wave Length’ for 39 Years; and more.
     

For Advocacy

  • Grassroots Advocacy Toolkit

    A set of how-to sheets for carrying out advocacy and fact sheets on the current issues Bread for the World is working on.

    For new and current Bread grassroots hunger activists.

    Ideal as a starter toolkit for new Bread activists or as a set of updates for current activists.

    ...

  • Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2017

    Unnecessarily long prison sentences, combined with the lack of rehabilitative programs for people in prison, exacerbate hunger, poverty, and existing inequalities.

    Overly harsh mandatory minimum prison sentences have contributed to the rapid increase of our country’s prison population. The...

  • Health Care Is a Hunger Issue

    Learn more about the principles that Bread for the World supports regarding health reform.

Field

Changing Climate, Changing Farmers

February 7, 2017

Insight

From the Blog