A renewal…

…For the season of Lent.

I’ll jump on the bandwagon. It’s the season of lent and as liturgical seasons go this is the marathon one. 40 days is a long stretch to sustain a focus on our creator, our relationship to one another, and the renewal of our faith. Like most people I fancy myself a solid runner in the lent race and yet I’m usually sitting on the curb by day three. I’m not admonishing anyone or myself for that matter. I am the world’s worst at saying I’m going to give something up or take something on for lent and subsequently bailing on that effort. In fact, in the last few years I’ve really been a fair weather fan. I don’t really want to even try the whole “give something up” unless I have a realistic expectation that I’m going to be able to succeed. What does that say about my approach to renewal and salvation? Pretty lame, right?

This year I took the marathon approach. I started after lent ended last spring. I decided to train up. I started asking myself the question, “What did I do for the food insecure of the world today?” There were days I forgot to ask myself the question. There were weeks that went by where I asked myself the question and didn’t have an answer other than, “I guess I’ll pray for those without enough to eat.” At first it was unsettling. I prayed 10 fold more than I was physically or financially doing. I felt guilty for not DOING more. I felt like I was shortchanging the people I wanted so badly to help. When in reality I was doing 10 times more than I was doing before I started to pray about it. Then I realized, “DUH!” that prayer was the underpinning of the entire FastPrayGive.org plan. I was so interested in going the extra mile I had forgotten the basics. What at first felt like I was short changing the suffering by not acting in some physical way every day was a false guilt. Prayer is actually doing the modicum that has to be done. We can have all the money in the world and all the physical volunteers in the world standing by to help the hungry and if we don’t have prayer how else will God know we need his help?

Now I’m NOT giving you an excuse here to just think praying for those without food is enough. However, I will say that if you took on the act of praying every day for someone with no idea where their next meal will come from you’d have a good plan for lent. Maybe you can throw in a word or two for the Holy Spirit to strengthen those in the fight to save lives from malnutrition and starvation. Maybe in addition you could pray for God to help you see how it is you can act to end hunger beyond this prayer. We need you to act in a meaningful way, but realize that if you’re not darkening the door of a soup kitchen every day that’s okay. We’d love it if you signed up to fast a meal once per week and give what you would have spent on that meal to FastPrayGive.org. We’ll take it and use it to tell others about our global movement to end world while we package meals. Try this on for size:

God- help those who seek food. Help those who seek to feed. Help me to seek how to feed others. Amen.

May God give you peace and be gracious unto you this season of renewal.

Andy Morris – executive director, fastpraygive.org

A Vision…

…For all space and time.

November just flew by. Now we are entering the end of our calendar year. Another year nearing an end. The year! A system by which we count another complete circumnavigation of our solar system and have encircled the sun. Each made of days that comprise our unit of measure ticking off the times we’ve made a complete rotation around our own pole. These concepts of physics and math count off the time and space measurements we use in our daily lives to increment the things of importance to us. I can’t imagine a world without them. I concern myself with these things and I have to continually give myself the reality check that all the things around me are pretty much not important to someone without enough to eat. The impoverished or those without enough to each aren’t too concerned with anything more than the next meal for themselves or a loved one. Our calendar year ends with family celebrations of gifts, food and song. We all try to regularly remind ourselves in a disciplined fashion that there is a “reason for the season.” That discipline is what I thank God for in each and every one of you. You have chosen to practice the love and grace of Jesus Christ in Fasting, Praying, and Giving. I can think of no more a proportional response to the gift of Jesus’s message than living out a vision of world where no one suffers starvation and malnutrition. Merry Christmas!

Hatching…

…It’s not just for Eggs anymore

We are in “beta” mode for FastPrayGive.org. It is a common term in the programming and software development world that denotes a fully operational, but not 100% complete project. FastPrayGive.org is fully functional, but is sharing resources with Rise Against Hunger (formerly Stop Hunger Now) in a effort to incubate this movement among Christians, Wesleyans, and Methodists around the world.

The term incubate means a lot here. In the natural science world it’s what a parent bird does for her eggs to help them develop and keep them safe. (I wish more parental duties involved sitting) In the laboratory you’ll find incubation used to setup a necessary environment to grow something that only thrives under the right conditions. Many chambers of commerce use the term incubator to refer to resource sharing centers where young business can work together and share or be provided resources to help them have a higher percentage of survival and hopefully success. Whether you’re growing a baby chick, some bacterial, a fledgling business, or (in our case) a movement to end the needless suffering caused by food insecurity the incubation is a helping hand.

Rise Against Hunger (formerly Stop Hunger Now) has been a great partner in incubating our launch by sharing marketing and development resources, and some capabilities to accept payments as we are not fully our own financial entity. However, FastPrayGive.org is working pretty hard with our parent organization WesleyMen to complete organizational requirements and build some alliances that will hopefully assist us with some other needs in the coming months.

I don’t want to exclude you. You are a partner in this because you see the big vision. You see that if each and every one of us owns this shared vision of compassion and justice for those without enough to eat we can hatch a spiritual and economic egg the size of which this world has never seen.

You ask about prayer…

…and you never know what you’ll learn

Not every monthly newsletter is going be preachy, but I’ve just read Luke Chapter 11. If you’ll read the first 13 verses of that chapter we’ll be on the same page. Read it Here

Can you imagine knocking on the door of someone’s house at 3:00 AM to borrow some food? I guess we’re a bit removed from the days of popping next door for a cup of sugar. I can’t imagine knocking on my neighbor’s door for much of anything beyond ‘your house is one fire’. So we immediately have to look at Jesus’ response to the disciple’s question from a time and place where neighbors actually talk to one another. Second we have to remember that Jesus wasn’t talking about actually begging your neighbor for something. Check out the context again. The disciples are asking their teacher how to pray. Whoa. I know, right? So what does He say about prayer with a short story about begging for food?

I know if I were on the receiving end of this door knock I would be slinging the ‘not my problem’ excuse pretty quickly. If you look at the words being used the sleepy and groggy neighbor isn’t rebuking the requestor…just making excuses. Jesus says that the person will come to the door and give you what you need. I think there can be interpretive difference in whether it’s because of the shameless audacity of the requestor or because the person being asked wants to keep their name clean. They don’t want to be thought of a person who doesn’t care about their neighbors. I think it could be both because we know that if someone is willing to bang on a door at 3:00 AM they are also willing to tell everyone who will listen how they asked for help and were rejected.

I think Jesus is asking us to be tenacious in our prayers. He’s telling us to be persuasive. We’re encouraged to be brash and bold…maybe even aggressive in our requests during prayer. Not because we think that God responds to threats or just to grease the squeaky wheel, but because the demonstration of our resolve to have our prayers heard is exactly the type of prayer technique that our God wants from us. Pray for those who hunger. Pray for those who suffer. Pray for those with the technique that Christ taught us as documented in Luke.

Our prayers at FastPrayGive.org are surrounding our growth into an organization that stands on its own. Today we are propped up by some wonderful organizations that are happy to help us but clearly have their own day-to-day issues to deal with. We’re working hard to become an independent project of the World Fellowship of Methodist and Uniting Church Men (WesleyMen). We hope that you’ll pray for our organization to grow in strength and support as we transition from incubation at the hands of our partners to an organization with its own two legs and arms outstretched and hand-in-hand with alliance partners who will share our vision of a World Movement to End Hunger.