Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine,
you did for me. (Matthew 25:40 NIV)
In 2017 famine broke out in South Sudan and also threatened Yemen, Somalia and Nigeria. Neighbouring countries such as Ethiopia and Kenya also faced serious food shortages. The United Nations described it as the worst humanitarian crisis since the end of World War 2. Last year about 83 million people around the world received emergency food aid. The World Council of Churches (WCC), the All Africa Council of Churches and other international ecumenical bodies asked Christians across the world to pray for people affected by food insecurity and to support the work of humanitarian organisations involved in the crisis. A ‘Global Day of Prayer to End Famine’ was organised for Sunday 21 May 2017.
This year the Famine Early Warning Systems Network estimates that 76 million people across 45 countries will need emergency food aid. The need is expected to be greatest in Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria, Ethiopia, The Democratic Republic of Congo, Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Hundreds of thousands of people in other parts of Africa, Asia and Central America will also need food aid. Closer to home, in the central highlands of Papua New Guinea, our nearest neighbour, on 26 February a massive earthquake followed by a series of strong aftershocks caused landslides and sinkholes. Thousands of people in very remote and difficult-to-access areas have been displaced from their homes and need food aid because of damage to their food gardens, water supplies and roads.
The main causes of food emergencies in the world today are conflict, natural disasters and poverty. The situation is most desperate where there is a combination of all three.
Since the global need for emergency food aid is still so great, the WCC and its partners are again inviting Christians worldwide to pray. The 2018 Global Day of Prayer to End Famine will be held on Sunday, 10 June.
This Sunday, 10 June, I encourage us as Lutherans throughout Australia and New Zealand to join Christians around the world in the Global Day of Prayer to End Famine. Let us see Jesus in the face of others, many of whom are suffering, and may others see the face of Jesus in us.
I include some prayer point suggestions below for congregational worship and your private prayers.
Dear God, creator and lover of all your children:
We thank you
- for our ‘daily bread’;
- for people who give generously to help others in need;
- for the volunteers and staff of local churches and charities who help to feed needy people in Australia and New Zealand;
- for people working in disaster response here and overseas, and for people working on long term programs to enhance food security, including Australian Lutheran World Service (ALWS) and its international partners;
- for the work of relieving hunger that ALWS supports in South Sudan and Somalia and in the Kakuma and Dadaab refugee camps in Kenya, its care for Yemeni refugees in Djibouti, and for Syrian refugees in the Za’atri refugee camp in Jordan;
- for all people working for peace in zones of conflict.
We ask you
- for grateful hearts that do not take our daily bread for granted;
- for willingness to imagine ourselves in needy people’s shoes and for generous hearts and hands to reach out;
- that in giving to provide for needy people in faraway places we don’t overlook the needy here at home;
- that individuals, corporate bodies and governments will generously support emergency aid wherever people need it;
- for aid that is timely, sufficient and fairly distributed;
- that people traumatised by seeing loved ones suffer, sicken and die from starvation-related illness will be treated with compassion and loving kindness;
- for the protection of vulnerable survivors such as orphans, young unmarried women and widows;
- for respect for the lives of aid workers and the needy people they are trying to help;
- for the success of peace building efforts and that warring groups can settle their disputes and turn their attention from destructive activities to productive ones;
- for communities hosting refugees displaced from their homes by war and hunger;
- for favourable weather, for good stewardship of land and water, and for abundant harvests;
- for the success of programs focused on boosting the food security of people living in zones prone to drought and other natural disaster;
- that needy people will experience something of God’s love through the actions of caring Christians.