The Value of a Name

I find the meaning behind names interesting and important, so it was no easy task to find the right name for each of my children when they were born. We broke out the whole Bible on my third child and decided to name him Ezra Solomon, which means “helper” and “peace” in Hebrew. If you decide to have more than two children and they begin to outnumber the parents, it is important to get names like peace, helper, serenity, or mercy in there. Names are important and, sometimes, can even define who we are.

Galgalo doing chores in Kenya

Larry Ward’s vision was to help people like these around the world … one at a time.

After starting to work at Food for the Hungry (FH) I was reading through the book This Poor Man Cried (you can download a free copy here) by Larry Ward, the founder of FH. It’s a biography based on his journey from seeing the need of the hungry and malnourished to showing how he was compelled to start FH. His journey started as he wrote down his original vision for FH on hotel stationary and mailed this vision to a friend. His thoughts evolved over the months on airline barf bags, also mailed to his friend and former colleague about plans and goals to help those who were hungry. On one of his last bags he wrote, “I feel as though I am embarking on the biggest mission of my life.”

Larry studied the scriptures on the topic of hunger. He and his 11-year-old son, Kevin, brainstormed about what the ministry would be called as they were flying on a plane trip. The meal that was served on Continental airlines that day came with a blessing printed on a little card next to the meal. This is strange for two reasons. First, if you have done any flying recently, you know that they try to give you just enough food while flying that you don’t perish while on the flight. Second, having a blessing next to a meal with a Psalm printed on in does not happen anymore, but there it was.

They read Psalm 146 together – one of the last psalms – a hallelujah psalm. In verse seven it says this: “He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry.” And there it was. Food for the Hungry was named.

Larry’s journey wasn’t without doubts. He often wondered and prayed, “I’m just one person…what can I do?” What he heard in response became one of Larry’s life mottoes: “They die one at a time so we can help them one at a time.”

The legacy of Larry Ward lives on through FH. I recently was in Northern Kenya with a small film crew in a community called Sololo. Our objective was to gather stories to tell about those who were being helped one at a time. We met a captivating boy named Galgalo, who was one of the best English speakers in his school. We worked with him over two days to tell his story of waking up in the morning and doing chores, going to school, doing more chores, attending church and taking care of his family.

Galgalo in Kenya

Galgalo is responsible for taking care of his family’s goats, along with other chores, since his father died.

We arrived at his house early so we could capture the whole day of Galgalo’s life. When we arrived, he was dressed and ready to go, which made us laugh because we were hoping to catch him waking up and get the whole story on camera.  Galgalo was used to getting up early since he had many responsibilities in taking care of his family. His father had passed away two years before leaving him and his mother to lead the family, including his four siblings.

As we interviewed Galgalo, we asked him what his biggest challenge was. Tears welled up in his eyes as he began talking about his father passing and all the responsibilities he had assumed as an 11-year-old. It was like someone had asked him the right question at the right time and he needed to let it out. Taking care of the family, taking care of the goats, chores before and after school and the pressure to take care of younger siblings is a lot for any child, and Galgalo did it while remaining a top student.

GalgaloGalgalo had hope. His family and community had learned the importance of education, better practices in health and wellness, livestock care and much more through FH, who had come to their village close to the Ethiopia border. The head master at the school said it was Galgalo’s father who was responsible for persuading the community to invest into the school and their children’s education. After his father passed, Galgalo still has hope through his sponsor who provides a way for him to go to school and much more through the work of FH, who continues to work in Galgalo’s community. One at a time there is help and hope for kids like Galgalo. You can help make more stories like this happen through your prayers and generous financial gifts.

In the same chapter of Psalms where Food for the Hungry got its name, Psalm 146:5, says, “Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God.”

So, what’s in a name? Well, God has enabled Food for the Hungry to bring help and hope to children like Galgalo around the world since 1971. I am greatly honored and privileged to work with the team under the name Food for the Hungry that continues to walk out Psalm 146 each day.