With World Hunger Day having concluded on Sunday, Southern Baptist agencies will be distributing donations made to the World Hunger Fund through 10,000 missionaries in North America and around the World. The World Hunger Fund, which launched in 1999, is a unified method for Southern Baptists to make donations specifically for meeting hunger needs.
Prior to Sunday’s World Hunger Day, Southern Baptists made efforts to emphasize the importance of meeting the practical needs of millions worldwide, creating awareness of hunger needs and educating church members on how they can contribute.
"Hunger and relief ministries are dependent upon the financial resources provided by those who give through the Southern Baptist World Hunger Fund," said Jim Brown, world hunger and relief ministries consultant for the International Mission Board (IMB). "We are extremely grateful to those who sacrificed in giving to the fund, as well as to those who have given their time as volunteers. Their cooperative spirit allows Southern Baptists to be on the cutting edge in ministering to the many spiritual and physical needs in our world."
IMB and the North American Mission Board (NAMB), two agencies of the Southern Baptist convention that receive portions of the World Hunger Fund, use 100 percent of contributions to the hunger fund to invest in overseas hunger projects and to support hunger projects in the United States and Canada.
NAMB, which receives 20 percent of the World Hunger Fund, reported that from January to September 2004, domestic hunger funds have been used to provide 1.5 million meals to those in need and 11,500 professions of faith have been tallied as a result of the hunger ministry. Also, more than $1 million has been distributed to state conventions for hunger relief in the United States this year.
NAMB's hunger ministry assists churches, associations and state conventions so that in the process of distributing food, the Gospel can be shared. By meeting physical needs, opportunities are created to address spiritual needs.
IMB, which receives 80 percent of the World Hunger Fund, reported that its field personnel conducted a total of 269 projects in 52 countries in 2003 with total expenditures exceeding $6.1 million. Projects included ministries to street children in Brazil, grain distribution to people in southern Africa suffering from drought conditions, tube wells and village development projects in Bangladesh and agricultural projects in the Philippines.
During the past year, with the major focus being on Iraq, Southern Baptists assembled about 35,000 food boxes (2.4 million pounds) at a cost of about $2 million. The boxes contained enough food to feed a family of five in Iraq for approximately one month, and the IMB shipped and distributed those boxes at a cost of $679,193.30.
Meanwhile, IMB workers also participated in hunger and relief ministries involving the AIDS pandemic, nutritional projects, agricultural training, water and sanitation development and community development. In addition to providing immediate assistance in the aftermath of disasters, the IMB also helped with development projects to provide for long-term needs.
“Often these opportunities provide unique and critical access to unreached people groups," Brown said. “As Jesus ministered to both the physical and spiritual needs of those He touched, IMB field personnel and volunteers do the same through the ministries they are involved in."
Those who want to make contributions designated to the World Hunger Fund may do so in one of four ways:
-- Through the International Mission Board
-- Through the North American Mission Board
-- Through a Baptist state convention.
-- Through a local Southern Baptist church.