Word of the Week

Today, I am participating with my friends at Feed The Children in their pledge to go one day without shoes. It's a cold day in Oklahoma and I have missed wearing shoes for sure, especially when an errand I needed to do took me on the streets of downtown OKC.

It's an emphasis begun by one of Feed The Children's partners, TOMS shoes to raise awareness about childhood poverty around the world and what it would be like to be even without the most basic life necessity: shoes. Feed The Children is participating, staff-wide for the second year now.

We were invited to write a name of a child on our feet-- as a way to walk in solidarity with them for the day. I chose Dorcas, a little girl from the area of Tumaini, Kenya.

Dorcas is an 10-year-old girl who lives in a community without running water. Her home does have electricity for which she is thankful. She contributes to her home by carrying water/ wood, cleaning and caring for her younger siblings. Her favorite color is red and her favorite food is rice. Dorcas hopes to become a teacher when she grows up.

Consider sponsoring Dorcas or a child like her (as Kevin and I have done) through Feed The Children's child sponsorship program. You'll ensure she never goes a day without shoes again.

Or, consider buying a pair of TOMS shoes, knowing that as you do a pair will be donated because of YOU to a child in need (and many of these kids are participants in Feed The Children's programs!)

I can't help but be reminded on this day as I participate with countless others in this emphasis of Isaiah 52:7: "How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, "Your God reigns!"

Bringing shoes to kids in need is good news indeed! Thanks TOMS for your leadership in this great effort.

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image (1)Today, I watched as 800 people stood in line with grocery sacks, trash bags and wheeled carts waiting to get food.

Most if not all were minorities.

Many were elderly, walking with canes or walkers.

Many were young mothers with babies in strollers or in car seats.

Many looked cold after standing in line for three or more hours simply to make it to the front of the line.

Many spoke of their long journey home, taking two or more buses to get back to their doorstep.

Most looked weary with the burdens of a hard life-- a life that had a lot to do with self-reliance, determination and perseverance to succeed even under less than desirable circumstances.

These were some of my hungry neighbors in the northeast neighborhood of Washington, DC. They gathered in mass nearby the Central Union Mission because they heard Feed The Children came to town with "the big truck." Feed The Children came with boxes of essential can goods, personal care products such as soap and toothpaste, and loaves of bread, oatmeal, and even some chocolate for the way home from its partners including Pepsi, Frito Lay and Wal-Mart.

As I gathered with my neighbors and stood in the line of folks giving out boxes to families in need, I couldn't help be overwhelmed by how deeply embedded hunger needs are, only a few miles from our nation's capital.

Can you imagine what a line of 800 people looks like? (As soon as we thought we'd made headway in passing boxes out, the lineimage seemed to get longer and longer). Can you imagine what it is like to be hungry enough to wait in the cold for a box of food which might only last you a week? Can you imagine the humility that comes from asking for help to simply feed your own children?

As I helped elderly women and young mothers put their canned goods and Corn Flakes into their suitcases or duffel bags, wishing them well on their journey to get all their heavy weight home, I could help but think about what Jesus would say about all of this.

How in a nation of plenty do we allow some of our neighbors to live with such little when many of us take so much?

How do the poor, in a town where media coverage runs on just about anything, become invisible to us?

How do we call ourselves good neighbors, as residents and frequent visitors to the District when some of our neighbors simply do not have enough food to feed our families?

image (2)Of course, these are big questions to ask and big questions without simple answers. And, the folks at Feed The Children know that food is only the beginning-- you feed hungry people so that doors of greater relationship can be opened for lasting change. Feed The Children just is a small drop in the larger assistance movement in communities. Feed The Children's food drop's like today mean little if they aren't connected to greater, long-term investment by partner organizations. And Feed The Children's network of building lasting change with in communities like DC is certainly growing by the day. Today was more than about just food-- Feed The Children made sure of this.

As I reflect tonight on my experience today at this event, I am sobered most of all. I know I need to think of my neighbors-- all of them-- in new ways. I need to remember as much as I have, there are those who struggle in my own neighborhood to buy vegetables and shampoo.

Maybe for all of us on this Holy Week as we stand around in the crowds, watching and waiting for and with Jesus-- we can all do our part by remembering the poor among us. We can thank God for the blessings in our life, both great and small. Yet, we can remember that no matter how wide we think our vision is in our community, there's always hungry folks among us wanting to be seen and feed too.