And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. –Mark 6:5
When Dr. Larry Ward began Food for the Hungry (FH), he was compelled by the call to help all who were hungry in the poorest places around the globe. In the early days of the ministry he would crisscross the globe between his base in Los Angeles and any and every humanitarian disaster that popped up.
One of the first responses that FH conducted was to assist the Vietnamese Boat People fleeing from conflict in the 1970s. These refugees would be found floating in the South China Sea and assisted with a safe place to stay and food to eat. The efforts to help the refugees were both challenging and perilous. ‘Success’ was not always achieved as many people and children would be found too malnourished to survive. However, despite this seemingly hopeless situation, Dr. Ward led FH to do what could be done to help.
Once, while back in the United States to raise funds and coordinate operations to assist the Vietnamese Boat People, Dr. Ward was asked how he kept up his spirits when it felt like there would be no hope. Dr. Ward simply stated,
They die one at a time; we can help them one at a time.
Ever since, this posture has permeated through the mission and values of the ministry he founded. At FH, we hear Dr. Ward’s resolve that every life matters. Similarly, we hear this resolve when reading the account of Jesus during a very disappointing and hopeless moment. When no one in his hometown believed in him, Jesus still stopped and “laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them.”
This part of the passage often seems out of place, an aside from the main lesson of the story. But consider it a lesson within a lesson. We believe that Jesus is affirming that, despite disappointing circumstances, letdowns and feelings of hopelessness, an impact for the Kingdom can still be made. The healing of “a few sick people” is better than healing none at all. And the fact that those tasked with compiling God’s Word kept this in the Holy Scriptures, others have felt the same way.
At FH, we try to make as big of an impact in the lives of the most vulnerable as God will direct us to. But it starts with the individual. Our “one at a time” approach is based on relationships. Something that makes all the difference as we at Food for the Hungry seek to end extreme poverty in the hardest places.
So is it worth it to have a “one at a time” approach?
Our founder stated that it was. Our Savior displayed that it is. And we commit to proving that it will be once we end poverty together.