Hunger is the World’s #1 Health Risk. Every 5 seconds a child dies of hunger and 821 million people go to bed hungry. Often when we hear these stats we think we have just two options: One, donate a little money or food out of guilt. Second, we simply cannot cope with helping anyone else, never mind helping strangers.
- Feel badly for the image of faceless millions of people that we generate in our mind, and maybe feel inspired to donate a little money or food out of guilt.
- Conclude that these problems are too large to deal with, and that with all the struggles we have in our own lives we simply cannot cope with helping anyone else, never mind helping strangers.
However, there is another way to deal with these seeming overwhelming statistics – we can approach the challenge together. And, that can yield great results!
What if a group of young people came together at the same time, and in the same place, and agreed to act in solidarity to help end hunger? At the All Ontario Youth Convention (AOYC) in May 2019 over 1000 teens decided to do just that.
I had just started my student internship with World Renew, leading up to the AYOC youth retreat over the May long weekend. I set up my camera to take a time lapse video of students collecting and stacking nonperishable food items. As seen in the video above, we were working on a visual way to help us see that we were helping “make hunger disappear” for as many people as we could locally.
What inspired me the most was watching the reactions of the teens who gathered, excited as their donations of food for the local food bank grew and grew. Each bag of food that was added made the group of young people take notice and I watched their enthusiasm grow too. As the stack of food increased, so did their awareness of the impact of what their youth community was doing to fight local hunger right there, and right then!
The giving and the caring had an international reach too. On the Saturday afternoon of this weekend retreat, World Renew had the privilege of holding a session called “Jesus and Justice” to a crowded room filled with teenagers interested in learning more about what Jesus has to say about poverty and serving the poor. A donation was taken up to feed Rohingya refugees, and I was moved by the generosity of spirit in these young people – caring for their brothers and sisters living in a refugee camp in Bangladesh.
The following day we had over 40 students give up their free time (a time when they could have gone swimming, played bubble soccer, or just chilled with friends) to help sort boxes of food in preparation for a truck to pick up the donations and take them to the Kitchener/Waterloo food bank. The room quickly turned into a human assembly line of people embracing their role of unpacking, sorting, or repacking. In the photo, you can see the students praying together at the end of their task. With both a local and global heart, these young people decided it was time to change the story.
World Renew is blessed to have the opportunity to work with people from all over the world to help change the statistics around hunger. On the May long weekend, we were blessed to work with this group of caring, involved teens with a heart for God’s world and the people in it.
I encourage all who read this blog to know that hunger is an issue that can be addressed. It is not exclusive to one country, religion, or people group. If more of us followed the example of these young people, and cared enough to work together, surely we would be able to make hunger disappear!