Inspiration. Engagement. Relationship building. God’s presence. These things, along with a continued sense of eagerness, are what I’ll take away from our recent two-day engagement as part of Food for the Hungry’s (FH) policy and advocacy efforts with our Nation’s lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
Two weeks ago, 22 of our partners, including generous financial donors, pastors and executive leaders of fellow Christian relief and development organizations journeyed to Washington, D.C. to share powerful testimonies about why they care about vulnerable families and communities across the world, and why our Nation should, too. Over the course of 48 hours, these faithful followers of Jesus engaged with more than 25 public officials about the importance of U.S. foreign assistance for the most vulnerable.
We began with a gorgeous sunrise over Capitol Hill and a morning filled with celebration, prayer and relationship building at the Congressional Child Survival Prayer Breakfast co-hosted by Senators John Boozman and Ed Markey, and Representatives Betty McCollum and Chris Smith. The Prayer Breakfast has become a tradition for FH, as it’s the fourth year we organized and co-sponsored it, along with Catholic Relief Services, Christian Connections for International Health and World Vision.
The 90 FH partners, congressional staff and Members of Congress came together to encourage, celebrate and pray for children around the world at the Congressional Child Survival Prayer Breakfast.
The 90 attendees included FH’s partners, congressional staff and Members of Congress. We came together to encourage, celebrate and pray for children around the world. Together, we celebrated unprecedented gains in child survival over the past two of decades. Senator Boozman, and Representatives McCollum, Aderholt, Thompson and Franks gave heartfelt remarks on why the U.S. should show compassion for the least of these around the globe, and lauded the faith community for its steadfast commitment to ending deaths of mothers and children from preventable causes.
Wade Warren, Acting Deputy Administrator of USAID and keynote speaker of the Prayer Breakfast reminded us that, “Since 1990, annual deaths of children under the age of five have declined from 12.6 million to 5.9 million – so today, there are half as many children who die each year as there were in 1990. We [the U.S. government and nongovernmental humanitarian organizations] have helped save the lives of 4.6 million children and 200,000 mothers.”
We also reflected on how much more there is to be done and prayed for the six million children who suffer and die unnecessarily each year from thirst, disease and malnutrition. We thanked Congress for their support of U.S. foreign assistance, as well as faith-based organizations who ensure those in need are reached.
The Prayer Breakfast was an inspiring lead-in to two days of advocacy meetings with congressional offices, World Food Programme’s Executive Director David Beasley, USAID, the Department of State and others. In these meetings, our partners shared stories about how their faith inspires them to love and care for the impoverished communities around the world. I was proud to hear their firsthand accounts on how FH is combating poverty in hard to reach places. I was encouraged by their emphasis on how U.S. foreign assistance represents the best of American values, namely America’s leadership in the world and the opportunity it provides to share hope in hopeless situations.
We live in a time when it’s tempting to feel overwhelmed by the suffering humanity is facing. But our two days on Capitol Hill was a refreshing reminder of each member of the body of Christ doing its part. To sit shoulder to shoulder with faithful people, each sharing how God has worked in their lives personally and in the lives of the poor their committed to serving, I experienced a glimpse of God’s Kingdom on Earth and the power and love of our Almighty Lord. I was reminded that small steps in faith by individuals have a cumulative effect, which in turn, save thousands of lives.
I hope FH’s faith leaders who took the time and energy to travel to D.C. to engage with our public officials feel empowered and continue using their voices in a democratic country where our leaders are impacted by their constituents. Relationship with God and others is the bedrock value upon which our faith rests. I pray that both individually and corporately, we continue to build relationships with our nation’s leaders and that our message will continue to resonate in the halls of Congress.
What You Can Do
Advocate: If you’d like to help in FH’s policy and advocacy efforts, please consider sending a letter to your members of Congress encouraging them to continue the less than one percent of the U.S. budget that is used for international poverty alleviation efforts through organizations like Food for the Hungry.
Give: You can make a transformational difference in the lives of some of the world’s most vulnerable people by giving to Food for the Hungry causes or by sponsoring a child.