People! Just when you start to get frustrated with people you discover YOU are one!
This week has been difficult. Not as difficult as my trip to Walt Disney World with the in-laws, but difficult.
It begins rather nicely. Monday is my birthday. I take the day and go for a nice ride on the Harley-Davidson through
northwest Georgia, the edge of Tennessee, and eastern Alabama (See: The End Is Near). it was a GREAT day and I had a really nice time.
Then Tuesday arrives — and it begins.
We have a group here called the Mature Years Club or as it is affectionately known — MY Club. It is a group of senior citizens (and a number of somewhat younger folk) that take a trip about every other month to some place within driving distance. We take our church bus and it is a really great group of folks. Mr. Bob Tinsley generally makes time to drive the bus for us. He is a good driver, he knows how to get to where we are going, and he always comes with his wife who is the wonderful lady that plans our trips.
Tuesday we had a trip scheduled to the Atlanta Botanical Gardens. It was a wonderful day. The sun was shining. It was warm. The wind was blowing gently. We didn’t have to deal with rush hour traffic. The group got a nice discount (we had something like 22 of us). It was a marvelous day.
The gardens were beautiful. Our guide was knowledgable, friendly, and an all around pleasure. She told us a good deal about the history, the layout, the plans, the types and varieties of plants we were observing, and a number of details that were really interesting about the whole thing.
And as we were leaving from such a wonderful day — it happened. I never though I would live to see the day something like
this would happen to me. I mean — I am the pastor! I am special. I am to be respected. I am to be honored. I am to be treated with dignity. And still – it happened! And from all people, Bob Tinsley is the one that did it to me.
Bob drove that bus ( I was following in the chase vehicle with the “overflow” group) right through the traffic light and into the parking lot of (I have a hard time saying it even now) THE VARSITY!! THE VARSITY!! Can you believe he would do this to ME! THE VARSITY!! I had members of the MY Club group so I HAD to follow him to keep the group together.
And to make this week even tougher; my family came up to Maguire’s Family & Friends Tuesday night for the Desert Special supporting Stop Hunger Now. And they not only ordered meals and ate them in my presence — they ordered the DESERT! A wonderful cake. It was a white cake with chocolate icing and chocolate syrup drizzled all over it for looks and taste. And they ate EVERY BITE — in front of me!
If the roles had been reversed, I know that I would have done the same thing they did. I would have had no problem having my lunch. They were hungry, they had an opportunity to have a meal. It was a good meal (not necessarily good FOR them) and they were spending quality time with friends. I would have done the same thing.
And isn’t that a point? As we have seen through this Lenten Fast — the 4 for 40 Project — we have seen that most of the time our lack of effort in ending the plight of World Hunger is not indifference, selfishness, hard-heartedness, hate, or any other negative action. It is usually due simply to the fact that we live our lives with blinders on. We live, sleep, work, play, relate in a place where we are usually untouched by the realities of others around the world.
I mean, I am now 49 years old and have only recently (since June of 2010) come to be aware of the issues surrounding World Hunger. And I grew up in a home with educated parents, attending good schools, reading books, newspapers, watching TV and the news, listening to the radio and surrounded by educated, informed persons. I knew people went hunger in the world — but it didn’t impact MY life.
I slept, ate, drank, played, went to school, went to church, had parties, friends, family relationships and all the other aspects of living my life — and I didn’t think about those who went without. Oh, sure, I helped collect food for the “poor” and for “missions” but those were “Those people” not individuals. They were folks that had experienced a disaster of some short — earthquake, fire, hurricane, earthquake — you know an “act of God.” As if God did it TO them.
Or they were people who didn’t know how to care for themselves, or chose NOT to work, or provide for themselves. But they were nameless, faceless, unknown people. And as such I could do just a little and feel god about it.
But taking only a little time, a little effort, a little opportunity — I have come to understand that not only CAN I do something to help — I must do something to help. They have become individuals. They have a story. It is a difficult story to hear — but it is their story. And as a compassionate person I am compelled to listen to their story. And it moves me — it stirs my spirit. It compels me to ACT.
And it has led me down very unusual paths. I am “fasting” really for the first time in my life. I am encouraging people I know to join me in doing something about it. I have made the 6:00 PM News, been interviewed live on the radio, done a taped telephone interview for radio, been in several newspapers, published on web sites, alumni newsletters, denominational publications, and of all things — write a BLOG! Will the world hold together on this?
And amazingly enough, I have had companions. Dan, David, John, Kyle and others have joined with me in action, spirit, prayer, and other ways along this journey. My children, those still at home and those that are away at college or work, have encouraged me on the journey, held me accountable, and helped me tell Stop Hunger Now’s story. And a number of persons have taken my challenge and sent me monetary support.
I am looking forward to Easter Sunday in just a few days. It is the “payoff” day for our congregation. It is the target date for the member to bring to the church the financial offering they have set aside during the season of Lent. I asked them to consider a fast of their own. To give something up for the season of Lent, 40 days, as a spiritual discipline.
Not for the act of abstinence — but to use that time and its resources in a different way. To use it to grow closer to Christ, to grow deeper in their faith. And most often, the thing that is given up has a cash value. Something that we would be spending anyway if we were not abstaining. And I asked them to take that cash value and set it aside each day as a gift for Lent — that we can feed the hunger through Stop Hunger Now’s program.
I can’t end world hunger alone, but together WE can make a difference. Right now it looks like all 4 of us will meet our basic
goal of raising $2,500 for packaging meals. That means that each of our churches will host a packaging event and package 10,000 meals — a total for our 4 for 40 Project team of 40,000 meals. All from 4 somewhat overweight pastors making an effort, inviting others to join with us, and look what has happened.
This is all part of a multifaceted plan. Phase 2 if you will is working with East Coweta Middle School and hosting a packaging event with the 6th Grade on the last day of School. Dr. Cook has accepted our offer to bring this project to the students as part of Rachel’s Challenge. That gives us a chance to share with 6th graders a way that they can change the world, they can realistically save the life of a child around the world by the simple act of packaging food for their use. And all for only 25 cents a serving. They spend enough on a vending machine drink to feed 6 children. A school lunch costs them (or their parents) $2.25 per day. That would feed 9 children. Looked at another way — they could provide 45 meals for what they spend to eat lunch each day.
Phase 3 will be a motorcycle ride and carnival here in Senoia. We will be looking for persons and groups to come and host a booth to help raise more quarters for more meals. Everything will be based on the 25 cent unit. And right now we are talking with a musical group who are willing to come a no cost and do a benefit concert to end the day. They have a number of CDs they have recorded and have been touring around the south and up the eastern seaboard. They were even part of the SXSW event in Texas this year. (More when we have it locked in.)
I hope you have learned something about hunger through my ramblings. I hope I have touched your heart and spurred you into action. I hope you will consider sending a gift to help us change the world. Can we actually make a difference? Can you and I save a life for only 25 cents?
You bet we can. One child, one meal, one-quarter at a time. Won’t you join with us? Got any quarters? Got something more? Make your donation through our secure online link here; or if you want to help with our Middle School event mail your gift marked for ECMS-SHN payable to: Stop Hunger Now, c/o Senoia UMC, PO Box 98, Senoia, GA 30276.
Together we can save lives. We can change lives. We can move from “them” to a relationship with persons that need our assistance.
Join with me — won’t you??
Until the next time….The Hog Father,