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The Church Needs Faith and Works to Fight Hunger
By Derick D. Dailey
The Epistle of James declares, “Faith without works is dead.” While this sentiment has guided my life for a very long time, it has taken on a different meaning since my experience at Bread for the World last summer. We cannot simply lean on our faith to effect change in the world. In addition to knowing that God is in control, it is essential to accept the fact that, many times, human actions deter the ultimate will of God. We the church must act on our faith to establish “God’s will here on Earth.”
As a Hunger Justice Leader, I learned what it truly meant to be an activist and an advocate. Bread has taught me the necessity of the church, most importantly the necessity of the church relative to public policy. In today’s society, we often call for a strict separation of church and state. But it is clear that certain issues of the state demand the attention of the church. One of those issues is world poverty.
Forty percent of people in the world today live on less than $2 a day. This statistic and the deprivation it represents are unacceptable and tremendously unjustified.
Just recently I presented a paper at the National Conference of Undergraduate Research on poverty and the church, entitled “Are You There God? It’s Me, Poverty.” This paper attempts to justify the importance and need of the church to involve itself in issues of poverty that affect so many people. This need is motivated by the mandate to seek justice and love mercy. Poverty is injustice. It is imperative that the church stand up and speak out.
While the church often knows of and responds to physical needs, there is a reluctance and timidity to serve as an advocate for hungry and poor people. The notion that the church should seek political justice is somewhat abstract for traditional congregations. Hence they avoid it.
The truth is that the church is called to be God’s hands and feet in this hurting and dying world. The fact that 26,000 children die each day due to preventable causes should shake the core of the church. Because of groups like Bread for the World, I am convinced that we can end poverty in my lifetime. But the only way to do that is to commit to the cause, endure the struggle, and keep the faith. Bread has done just that for 35 years. It not only saves lives, it fulfills the ultimate mission presented by Christ.
If not now, then when? If not us, then who? I am persuaded that the time is now. We the church are the people to change the course of history.
Derick D. Dailey will be a junior next fall at Westminster College in Fulton, MO. He was among the first class of Bread for the World’s Hunger Justice Leaders in June 2008. After that training, Dailey returned to his home in Arkansas compelled to study churches and religious groups and their effectiveness in tackling poverty. He galvanized several county leaders and helped start the Phillips County Poverty Commission. He was selected to present his poverty research paper at the 23rd National Conference of Undergraduate Research in Wisconsin. Dailey said, “It is because of Bread that I have been able to achieve so much in such a short time on the poverty issue. I am so grateful that I had this great opportunity and I look forward to continuing the work.”