Written by Gregg Brekke
Citing the hard work of poor people themselves as one of the principal factors in improving their lives, the Rev. David Beckmann says Bread for the World's current letter-writing campaign will help put the impoverished into motion toward a brighter future.
"Given the opportunity to improve their communities and provide a better life for their children, they will seize it," says Beckmann, Bread for the World president.
Bread for the World launched on Jan. 12 its annual Offering of Letters campaign to urge Congress to reform U.S. foreign assistance in a way that more effectively benefits hungry and poor people worldwide.
Thousands of churches representing nearly 50 denominations nationwide are expected to participate this year. As part of a worship service or Mass, Christians will write letters that will be placed into offering plates and dedicated to God.
Theodora Artz, a member of David's UCC in Kettering, Ohio, and four-time participant in the Offering of Letters, says her reasons for writing are twofold.
"Bread provides background information to help me understand the important issue we write about, and the letters do get a response from Congress," says Artz. "Hunger and poverty are not partisan issues and participation in the Offering of Letters reflects my religious and moral values."
Elizabeth Keyes, a member of the mission board at David's, says her congregation began putting pen to paper when former Congressman Tony Hall – now executive director of the Alliance to End Hunger – visited her church. "He encouraged us to 'do what's in front of you' with regards to social justice," says Keyes. "This gives us a vehicle for doing justice in addition to just helping others."
More effective aid is crucial to poor countries such as Haiti and Liberia. Haiti is struggling to recover from longstanding poverty made worse by the 2010 earthquake. Similarly, the people of Liberia are emerging from two devastating civil wars that have left many deeply impoverished.
More effective U.S. assistance will help Haitians and Liberians – and people in many other developing countries – increase their capacity and infrastructure so they can become self-sufficient.
"Working to end hunger and poverty is an imperative part of the Christian journey," said Susan M. Sanders, UCC minister for Global Sharing of Resources. "Bread for the World's Offering of Letters is a powerful and accessible mechanism for congregations to put their faith into action and advocate for ending hunger and poverty."
Generating hundreds of thousands of letters to Congress annually, Bread for the World seeks change on four fronts:
- A stronger U.S. government focus on reducing poverty
- Clearer accountability for how U.S. aid dollars are spent and their results
- A transformed U.S. development agency
- U.S. aid that meets the needs and wants of local people
"God is calling us to make sure U.S. foreign aid reaches those who need it most," said Beckmann, "and that it supports their efforts to lift their communities out of poverty."
Offering of Letters materials are available at <bread.org/ol>. Bread for the World is a collective Christian voice urging our nation's decision makers to end hunger at home and abroad.