Sunday, 26 August 2007

Food for the Hungry

We meet together each week to eat.

The first day, the day on which our Lord rose from the dead, is a special time to get together as a family.

Not just as the Eichers, or the Thomases, or the Reddys - but as all of our families together in the new family of faith.

We eat not only the occasional pot-luck together - but also of the food of fellowship - and of the Bread of Life.

Today was a special day.

Yesterday had been full but wonderful - visiting friends in Borivali - where we lived in 2001 - and then traveled back across the city to be at "Fearfully and Wonderfully Made" - a lecture Bro. Stanley Nelson gave on the wonders of creation - and the value of life - all life that bears God's image. Challenging and moving.

50 million. That's right. 50 million girls are apparently missing because of abortion in India. UN figures.
Take a look at Tammana - Narendra's daughter. Isn't she an absolute miracle? And yet to so many she would be considered a curse. A piece of plasma that can be disposed of at any point.
As the son of a loving father who would have been aborted had it been legal in 1940 - and the brother of a unique sister who was spared the same fate - I know that what God makes is never, never junk. And how much potential there is in each image-bearer!
So we came to this morning.
Over the past month Sheba has been deeply troubled. We have a small but important group of people with HIV who we are ministering to, who just do not have enough food to eat. We tell them to eat healthy food - but due to the present situations they are enmeshed in - they are not able to eat - because there just isn't enough.

Since the beginning of Jeevan Sahara, we have always wanted to work mainly through local churches. And yet 5 years down the road we continually struggle with this basic problem - we in the church have so much to eat - and others do not. And how to bridge the gap.
We know that we could make an appeal and get donations and then have people come to our centre for bags of groceries.

And we also know that that well-intentioned act of charity can do tremendous damage as well.

As we have been agonising about this for the past month the seed of an idea took place.

How about using what the church in the North-East does. How about putting aside a handful of rice for the poor everytime we cook rice. How about collecting that over the month and then giving it to a specified family in need. Food from our table to yours. Food that is not surplus, but part of our daily rations - and yet given with love - and prayer.

Over the past fortnight we talked about this with the JSK team and decided to make a prototype kit. We want to have a small brochure explaining the concept. A bookmark for prayer. A small picture drawn by an HIV-positive person. A case study (with names changed) to challenge the person. A pledge card - asking people to prayerfully commit to helping out for 6 months. And 6 sets of bags - a small one for dal, a larger one for rice and the largest for some fresh vegetables to be purchased just before giving the bag to the family at the end of the month. As each handful of rice is put in the bag on a daily basis - the person is able to pray for that family.

For some reason I really felt we should start it with our fellowship today.

Jacob Darlong - one of our interns from Union Biblical Seminary - worked on it on his day off yesterday - his hard work paid off with 6 prototype kits being made by him. Jacob brought the packets over this morning - and was persuaded to join us Eichers for breakfast.
Only 3 families came today to our fellowship meeting: The host family, ourselves and one of our single young men.

But the Lord was with us - and the fellowship was sweet.

As I helped lead the communion we meditated on what Jesus had said: "I am the bread of life. He who eats of me shall never die, but will live."
We remembered how broke the bread and gave it to his disciples saying He had said: "This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me."
And how in the same way, after supper Jesus took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me."
The bread and grape juice we ate and drank were outward symbols of the inward nourishment we received from God.
And then the small miracle.
I was wondering how to bring up the Hunger Kits to the fellowship. I did not have peace to do so during the time of sharing before communion and so decided to talk about them as a small announcement at the end of our time.
Ryan - the late teen son of Jolly and Suma - our host family - had prepared a message for us. As he spoke my jaw dropped. He had chosen 1 John 3.16-18 as his main text.
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.
The whole time we were challenged to actually love in practice. And that our hearts must first change - but that the outward is a sign of what is inside. This was exactly the passage we used so often at Jeevan Sahara when we talked about how we can practically help our churches become involved in loving people with HIV as part and parcel of what it means to be church.
God speaks - and He speaks clearly. After the message was over I brought out our prototype Hunger Kits and Bro Jolly dedicated them to God's use.
Each of our families took one kit to start the process of helping immediately.

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