When people hear our name for the first time, they often think that Food for the Hungry (FH) is a food bank. FH staff become accustomed to hearing comments such as, “Where do you pass out food?” So If you have made that assumption, you’re not alone.
In fact, FH does distribute food and other needed items in certain situations, such as during a response to a natural disaster. However, for the most part, our goals involve satisfying hungers in more profound and lasting ways.
What was the origin of the name? Our founder, Dr. Larry Ward (pictured at right), named FH 50 years ago. In celebration of our 50th anniversary, we are taking a look at some key Bible verses that were meaningful to Dr. Ward. Among the most significant of those verses is the one that inspired our name, Food for the Hungry.
(God) upholds the cause of the oppressed
and gives food to the hungry.
– Psalm 146:7 (NIV)
What is Hunger?
The word “hunger” refers to an unmet need. Most often we associate hunger with a lack of food. Physical hunger is one of the most urgent and important needs that people have. We need food to sustain life.
But there are other hungers that signal more complex needs. At FH, we think of hunger in terms of broken relationships. When the Fall occurred in the Garden of Eden, four types of relationships were broken. Physical, social, mental and spiritual poverty–or hungers–were the result. We also believe that God sent Jesus to reconcile all things to Himself. This means that His plan is to satisfy every hunger.
How Does God Give Food to the Hungry?
Psalm 146 specifies that God gives food to the hungry. The verse doesn’t directly say that people pass out food to one another. So it’s worth considering how God accomplishes this.
Certainly, God gives food to the hungry by providing for them through His creation. He has given people creative minds to make use of natural resources, including sustainable agriculture techniques. God grants each person unique gifts and abilities so that we can work. He gives us minds for learning and for solving problems in their own environments. And He places people in communities so that they can mutually support one another.
All of these gifts are means by which God gives food to the hungry. So when we quote the Scripture saying “God gives food to the hungry,” we are referring to all of these interconnected and generous ways that God provides for us.
Hunger for Love
Zipporah Muhoro has served with FH for the past 11 years in her native country of Kenya. She has seen tremendous physical hunger in some of Africa’s neediest communities. But she recognizes that there are other hungers than the need for food.
Zipporah Muhoro addresses all forms of human hunger as she serves with the most vulnerable in Kenya.
She calls one of these hungers “compassionate concern.” You might also call it a hunger for love.
“Out of the many hungers that I have witnessed God satisfy, the most difficult to describe is the hunger for compassionate concern,” Zipporah said. She explained that she sees this hunger among people who have lived in chronic, generational poverty. “Since they assume that they are only seen as deserving of pity, rarely does anyone take time to visit them, just to talk and listen.”
Can you imagine how lonely it would feel to be seen only as an object of pity, and not worthy of sharing human relationship?
Satisfying the Hunger for Love
Zipporah explained that FH staff and volunteers visit the homes of people living in vulnerable conditions. God gives food to the hungry in this way too. “We take the time to sit where they sit, and chat not only about their difficulties, but also socially. We encourage them to share with us.”
Through the relationships built in the community, Zipporah and her team lift up the people in prayer. They hold community meetings to discuss concerns that arise from their conversations with community members. They meet specific needs by connecting people with services, such as a veterinarian to help their sick goats or a governmental office for school registration.
Zipporah finds motivation in Dr. Ward’s statement, “We help them one at a time.” She said, “We do not target to reach the many, but the one God brings our way, one household at a time.”
More Posts In This Series: Key Verses for FH’s Founder, Dr Larry Ward
What is the Meaning of “Ends of the Earth?”
What is the Meaning of “All Things Work Together for Our Good?”
What is the Meaning of “Act Justly, Love Mercy, and Walk Humbly with Your God?”