This week I read of people who are eating very frugally for a week to support those who do not have the choice to eat in any other way.

 

Concern Worldwide is a humanitarian organisation, and a charity in the UK, founded in Ireland in 1968 to provide food and life saving support to those in need. In 2019 alone it helped over 28 million people in over 20 countries worldwide, often responding to victims of emergencies. As part of their fundraising activities, Concern Worldwide run a Ration Challenge each year, when volunteers are challenged to get people to sponsor them to live for a week on the food rations issued to those in need. This year participants will eat the same as a Syrian refugee living in a refugee camp in Jordan: a week’s food is just under 2 kg rice, 400g flour, 170g lentils, 85g dried chickpeas, 400g tinned kidney beans, 330 ml vegetable oil and 180g of either fish or tofu. In the refugee camps, some refugees are also able to earn additional ingredients such as a vegetable. Participants replicate this by choosing one portion of one vegetable, if they raise over £250 in sponsorship money. Participants taking the challenge report missing coffee, missing vegetables, missing spices, missing bread, and feeling that the meals are bland and boring. They also speak of the challenge helping them to realise how lucky they are to have enough food to eat, as many refugees end up sharing their ration packs with others.

 

Food figures largely in the Bible. Written over centuries by a people who were largely subsistence farmers, there are rituals for rejoicing when harvest is gathered, for giving thanks that there will be food for the year ahead. Hospitality, providing food and accommodation for visitors, strangers and the poor, was considered a sacred duty, with examples of people sharing the last food they have with a visiting stranger, as is often still seen in the poorest parts of the world today. Food was seen firstly as a gift from God, with a duty to share; one of Jesus’s parables speaks of the ‘foolishness’ of a rich man who decided to build bigger barns to store the abundance of a good harvest, storing up ‘treasure’ for himself instead of being ‘rich towards God.’

 

  • Reflect on the roles that food plays in your life, for yourself, and in your relationships with others.

  • What do you think that ‘enough’ food would look like?

  • What do you think Jesus means when he speaks of being ‘rich towards God’?

 

Prayer for the week - 18th September 2020

 

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