Discussions of Book of Mormon issues and evidences, plus other topics related to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

A Time to Prepare: Being Ready to Feed the Hungry

President Monson has called upon us to do more to feed the hungry and life the poor. Caring for others in this way is what the Bible defines as "pure religion" and is at the heart of true Christianity and true compassion for those of any faith. It is something we must do willingly, with our time and substance and love, helping the Lord to meet the needs of individuals. I heard a snippet from Glenn L. Rudd this morning on the Mormon Channel in which he said that the Church's welfare program is, in his view (if I heard correctly), the most spiritual thing we do in the Church. (Elder Rudd is the author of Pure Religion: The Story of Welfare Since 1930.) There's wisdom in that perspective.

Most LDS folks I know fully agree with the divine command to care for the poor and needy. But how can we do this, how can we help the poor and needy, especially in the future when disaster strikes or when the economy in general may be even more challenging than it is now, if we are not prepared? There are many with sufficient income and means who, sadly, are utterly unprepared to lift others. In spite of sufficient income for basic needs, preparation has not been a priority. Their pantry is empty, they are strapped with unnecessary debt, and a small jolt to our delicate supply chains--a truckers strike, a chemical disaster, a flood or a surprise crash of horrifically vulnerable power grid--could leave them hungry and dependent on others instead of being able to help.

By historical standards, this is a day of abundance. What a perfect time to prepare. Many cash-strapped college students can still put away a little food, a small supply for several days or more, and be ready to cope if the power is out for a few days. 72-hour kits for emergencies might just be 36-hour kits for some, but we can do more and be ready. We should spend a little time and some of our means on personal preparedness for the general challenges of life and emergency preparedness for the short-term sudden disasters that can strike. Meanwhile, building savings rather than debt should be our goal, another key to being able to help our family and others in the long run.

There are many reasons most of you can offer as to why you can't do anything about this now. You may be without money, but that does not make you poor or unable to prepare. With faith, the Lord can help us take one step after another to prepare. It may take months to build a week's supply of food on your budget, but if we turn to the Lord in faith and seek his guidance daily, we can find ways to prepare.

There is much to do right now in ministering to those around us, but let us also be ready to do more in the future.

Here are some Mormon Channel broadcasts on the subject of welfare


Papa D said...

My father taught us early in life that one of the worst results of debt is that it robs us of the chance to donate the money we pay in interest on that debt to those who truly need that money.

On a personal note, one of the reasons we've been able to pay my oldest son's student loan payments while he is on his mission is that, even though I shifted careers and am making MUCH less than I have in the past, we have essentially no debt.

The other reason is that we have wonderful friends (multiple people in our previous ward) who are paying his actual mission costs - at least partially because they also are not burdened by excessive debt.

Ormsby Family said...

I am continually amazed by your insight. I greatly admire you, and check often for new posts.

A while back my wife and I, and our married children, got together and discussed a "contingency plan" for interruptions in the food supply chain. Here is the idea: Since we have a good deal of basic food storage, what would we need if the supermarkets were without a continuing supply? We discussed such things that other "panic-shoppers" would probably not seek. Vegetable oil, canned fish and meat instead of fresh, evaporated milk, dried fruits, etc. With a good supply of vegetable oil, for example, as a family we could produce a considerable number of loaves of bread for our neighbors.

I fully expect that the day will come, not necessarily in an emergency, that we will be called upon to help our neighbors.

Michelle said...

Great thoughts, Jeff. Thank you. People commonly ask why Mormons store food, and I think this is an important element of why we do.

I've been thinking lately, too, about how in the cycle of life, we all will probably have our time of want. There is a give and take with giving and receiving, and self-reliance and preparation enables us to be more able to help those in times of need.

Openminded said...

This is why I'd be comfortable with kids of my own some day believing in religion.

I'm sure there are plenty of secular ways to encourage giving, but my eyes were opened to the needs of the world in religious settings where we could donate to a charity.

As a side note, what exactly is the original cause of Mormons storing food? The family I got to know said they stored quite a bit, and from what I've heard, it's a widespread custom

Richard Purdy said...

The most immediate threat for which we should prepare is even now being realized--inflation and economic dislocation. After World War I, there was one Frau Eisenmenger, a war widow in Austria trying to support, on a government pension, two sons made invalids in the war. She wrote, "The wife of a doctor whom I know recently exchanged her beautiful piano for a sack of wheat flour. I, too, have exchanged my husband's gold watch for four sacks of potatoes, which will at all events carry us through the winter..."

(From the book "When Money Dies" by Adam Fergusson)

Anonymous said...

Charity sees the need, not the cause.
-- German proverb

If you haven't got any charity in your heart, you have the worst kind of heart trouble.
-- Bob Hope

He who gives when he is asked has waited too long.
-- Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Real charity doesn't care if it is tax deductible or not.
-- Unknown

Cindy said...

The poor around us are a constant call to charity, and a constant opportunity for us to share the overflow of love that we receive from God.

It does take faith to prepare for charity in the future by storing up in advance, but it takes even more faith to give sacrificially without any contingency plans for ourselves.

I've always been touched by this parable in Luke 12:

"And he told them this parable: "The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. 17 He thought to himself, 'What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.' 18 "Then he said, 'This is what I'll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I'll say to myself, "You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry." ' 20 "But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself ?' 21 "This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God."
Then Jesus said to his disciples: "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23 Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life ? 26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? 27 "Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 28 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! 29 And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30 For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. 32 "Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor."

Papa D said...

Openminded, The welfare system of the LDS Church came into being in the early 1900's - amid the World Wars and Great Depression. Storing food against possible catastrophe is based "doctrinally" on the story of Joseph and the famine in Egypt and the idea of consecrated service, but the practical impetus for the organizational emphasis was an extended period of widespread need.

The actual advice has fluctuated through the years - with one year's worth being the highest "normal" standard and a month's supply being the current norm (and a 72-hour emergency kit/packet for each family member).

Obviously, the biggest reason for a 72-hour kit and one month's storage is natural disaster and short-term inability to work, while the year's supply (still gathered by many, even though it's not stressed as much any more) is geared more toward longer term unemployment.

Pops said...

One of the sins of our generation seems to be a feeling of entitlement - no home is too large or expensive, for example. Those who earn larger salaries feel obliged to spend it on larger, more-expensive homes. Why so? A simple home provides adequate and comfortable shelter, leaving much that might be used to bless our extended families, our communities, and the lives of those less fortunate at home and abroad.