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Fr Ray Hemingray has shared his thought for today, Sunday 13th December 2020.

‘Hunger’

I think it must have been an email I received this week that started me off thinking about hunger. I regularly get emails from a charity called Barnabas Fund, which seeks to support Christians around the world suffering from persecution, famine, natural disasters, etc. The particular email I received this week contained an appeal for help for people who are starving in Madagascar. The email included this:

“Southern Madagascar has not had a rainy season for the last two years. People in some parts are eating ashes flavoured with tamarind, just to put something in their stomachs. Covid-19 is rife and, since there is almost no water, people cannot wash to protect themselves from the virus.”

If we think we have enough problems to complain about because of the pandemic, this kind of statement puts our own problems into perspective! There are always people with worse problems than our own.

I often feel that the world is not getting it’s priorities right. For example, I don’t like to get political, but it amazes me that there are millions on the bread line or starving in India, whilst the Indian Government, which receives aid from many countries around the world, including Britain, is spending billions on space projects. In 2018 alone the Indian Government provided its space agency with a “further” 1.5 billion dollars. And a space launch in July of this year cost over 100 million dollars. According to a 2017 United Nations report, it was estimated that 190.7 million Indian citizens were undernourished.

Sometimes governments put forward excuses as to why they are not providing enough help for the poor and hungry. The musician and singer Bob Geldof, one of the co-founders of the charity Band Aid, which was formed to raise money for famine relief in Ethiopia, once said (and please forgive the expletive): “I’m not interested in the bloody system. Why has he no food? Why is he starving to death?”

In spite of all the troubles we are experiencing at the moment, we still need to give a thought to those less fortunate than ourselves. If we all try to send a little aid now and again, then cumulatively we can make a difference to the lives of others. Here’s a little story I have found in ‘Complete Quotes and Anecdotes’, by Tony Castle. It is an example of hope in the face of adversity, a story about a little boy trying to raise money to feed people displaced from their homes by a natural disaster:

A little Japanese boy called at the house of a retired gentleman with some picture postcards for sale at the equivalent of 10p each. ‘What are you going to do with the money?’ the man asked him. ‘I am raising one million pounds for the earthquake relief’, the little boy said gravely. He was so tiny and the sum he named was so large that the gentleman had to laugh. ‘One million pounds?’ he cried. ‘Do you expect to raise it all by yourself?’ ‘No, sir’, replied the boy, ‘There’s another little boy helping me.’

This little story reminds us that, no matter how small our efforts, there is always hope that they can make a difference, however small, to some people somewhere. If someone like that little boy were to raise only £1000, the money could, for example, mean the difference between eating ashes or rice for quite a few people in Madagascar. Even if we feel we can only afford a little to give to good causes, a lot of people giving a little can make a difference to the lives of people round the world who are starving. As we stock up for our Christmas celebrations, let us remember to give a little to help those who will not be feasting this Christmas. It could be that we give to charities bringing relief around the world, or it could be something for our local Food Bank. Jesus said: ‘ … whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones, because he is a disciple, will never lose his reward.’ (Matthew 10:42)

So, we can each play a tiny part in defeating world hunger, if we try. I will leave the last word with Mother Theresa:

“I used to pray that God would feed the hungry, or do this or that, but now I pray that he will guide me to do whatever I’m supposed to do, what I can do. I used to pray for answers, but now I’m praying for strength. I used to believe that prayer changes things, but now I know that prayer changes us, and we change things.”

Fr. Ray