Now you may be wondering if you read that headline correctly. If you follow Food for the Hungry (FH), you know that we work in hard places. War-torn cities. Drought-ravaged villages. And through God’s grace, FH sees amazing transformations.
But our work does not bring Christ to poor communities. Actually, God is active in every community of the world long before FH or any other organization arrives. He has been since the beginning of time. Hebrews 1:3 says that he sustains even the places that appear to be the most broken and impoverished.
In the book When Helping Hurts, Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert write that working in poor communities means “discovering and appreciating what God has been doing there for a long time.” The people there may not know God. They may not recognize that He has been at work. But Colossians 1:17-20 tells us that God “holds all creation together” and is “reconciling everything to himself.” FH follows God’s call to respond to human suffering and help end extreme poverty. The truth is that by joining us in our work, you actually join a story that is a lot longer than just the number of years FH has been in a community.
Yet if we only talk about the lack, the deficit, the dirt, or the rubble, we miss something essential about human life. Development that gets children access to clean water is good. Programs that decrease malnutrition are good. Your partnership with us in this work makes life possible.
But these things on their own are not enough. A life of true flourishing needs beauty, music, laughter, celebrations, laughter, colorful clothing. Bryant Myers, the author of Walking with the Poor, notes that anyone who lives among the poor will tell you those things are there. Communities celebrate with fiestas. Music always permeates in some form, even if just through a simple instrument. Basic houses might have brightly-colored doors. Grandmothers and grandfathers tell the stories of a shared community history. Kids run and play.
God shows up in even the most desolate of places through beauty, goodness, and truth.
Bangladesh: Rohingya refugee children break into giggles.
Rwanda: a community member makes music with a drum in a church service.
Kenya: a mother wears hand-beaded Maasai jewelry that is rich with cultural symbolism.
Uganda: a South Sudanese refugee baby sleeps wrapped in a brightly-woven blanket.
Every photo showing beauty demonstrates God’s presence in the poorest communities. Theologian Abraham Kuyper wrote, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, ‘Mine!’”
The Heartbeat of FH
It’s because God is already present that FH has hope. Hope that these communities can achieve lifelong, sustainable, meaningful change. And that they can move out of extreme poverty to lives of full human flourishing.
That is why we pursue beauty, goodness, and truth.