Saturday, December 29, 2007

An open letter to BCC

Because of the nature of this letter which will run in two parts there will be no news from Pigeon Falls today or tomorrow.

My Dear BBC,
You seem to have a real interest in the poor and hungry of the world. You have mentioned them now three times in your comments. I too have an interest in the poor and the hungry but I am not just talking about it I am doing what I can.

First of all I belong to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America which last year raised 19.5 million dollars to help combat world hunger. It, of course, is not enough. But we did something. Thousands of people who would have starved didn’t and thousands of them will continue to be fed in years to come because of projects we started.
Chalk one up for the church BBC.

Let me tell you of some of the things we did. Some years ago I wanted to see for myself so I could tell the congregation where their money was going. So at my expense I flew to Latin America and visited three countries and six projects.

The first was in Nicaragua. There I visited a village way up in the mountains. Some years before people starved in that village. The church brought food but it did more than that . It drilled a deep well and got them water to grow crops. When I got there they had huge gardens providing food for their tables and something to sell. WE couldn’t save everybody. But we saved them. Chalk one up for the church.

Also in Nicaragua I visited a cooperative the church set up. It allows little farmers to get together to market their coffee and other goods . Prior to that they had no choice but to sell to the big companies who paid them very little and didn’t care if the children starved. Because of the cooperative the little communities thrived. One now has a clinic and another a school.
Chalk another one up for the church.
As an aside the congregation I served in Crystal Falls once they heard the story used only the coffee from the cooperative for our Sunday coffees.

Next I went to El Salvador and visited a United Nations refuge camp. There were so many refugees that there wasn’t enough food so Lutheran World Action sent in food . But it did more than that. It also built a school and provided materials for the students. It wanted the kids to have a possible brighter future. A nice old lady grabbed my arm and over and over thanked me for helping the children.
Chalk up another one for the church.

In El Salvador the Lutheran Church was also busy setting up cooperatives. The leader in that movement was the assistant to the Lutheran Bishop. For his effort on behalf of the poor the rich had him assassinated. I know that makes you happy since “ the only good Lutheran is a dead Lutheran” but he was killed because he tried to help the poor. .

Then I went to Honduras there we visited a village that was in such a remote location the only way to get to it was to ride in the back of a pick up down a dry river bed. This was a village that had a high child death rate because they had so little food. We gave them food and something more, a goat herd. Now they had milk for the children. They had goat hair that could be woven into clothing and things to sell. The goats produced fast enough so they also could be sold. The village would not have to go hungry again.
Chalk another one up for the church.

Before I left Honduras I met a Pentecostal Pastor who was feeding fifty barrio children every morning. That was the only meal some of them had for the day. He really needed to have the water pipe extended to his feeding place but had no money to do it. So when I got home my congregation raised money to extend the pipe and became part of feeding those kids.
Chalk up still one more for the church.

The sad truth is if you got your wish and the church vanished from the earth all those people would have starved.

But my national church does more than that. We have a lobby in Washington that fights for the rights and the needs of the poor. It is the voice of those who have no voice.
Get rid of religion and you get rid of that voice.

The congregation I belong to I joined because of their deep concern for the poor. It contributes to a food bank so that local people who need help can get it. As I ate my Christmas dinner which seemed to bother you I knew that hundreds of people who couldn’t afford it were sitting down to a ham feast with all the trimmings because of the food bank.
No church no Christmas dinner for those people.

Further the local congregations get together and every week sponsor what is called The Community Meal. Each church takes a turn at supplying the food and serving it. People who need help get to eat free.

And Betty and I give a portion of our income every month to world hunger. WE can’t do it all but we do what we can. I won’t demean you by asking what you do. I assume you do your share since you seem like a kind man.

Dr. John
Tomorrow a look at some faulty logic.


Blogger Janvangogh said...

I was quite surprised to find out the large percentages one's donation that goes towards "administrative" costs in many secular charities. Churches are some of the best places to give to help the poor because all of your donated dollar goes towards the cause.

I always thought you never deleted BBC's comments so that we could pray for him.

6:43 AM  
Anonymous quilly said...

Dr. John -- you have always struck me as being very open minded, progressive and accepting of other people's thoughts, values and opinions, even when you did not agree with them yourself. This has only confirmed that impression for me. I am saddened but not surprised that BBC finds it difficult to be as charitable and kind as the Christian he is attempting to ridicule. I, too, will pray for him (if for no other reason then to tick him off, for I am not as kind as you).

3:23 PM  
Blogger The Old Fart said...

Dr John ~ you are most truly a Man of God, I am glad to be able to call you as a friend, I totally agree it is the church that get things accomplished. If we waited for government then there would be more people dying.

A Blessed weekend is wished for you. Like Quill I will pray for you as well as your critics, after all we are all God's children whether we want to admit it or not.

God Bless you Dr John as well as Betty.

4:28 PM  
Blogger Margaret said...

It's ok, see - there are many who have good fortune who pay no never mind to those that do not. In this even some self proclaimed Christians are not immune. BBC can't be faulted for all of the hypocrisy that he has witnessed over the years. Sadly, it has been very prevailant.

However, allow me to say something from the poverty point of view. Not merely poverty as stated in the US Income standards. Not the kind of poverty where a family still owns a TV set in their living room. But the point of view of no living room, food, cleanliness nor safety. I've been there.

10 years ago I had to sacrifice everything to get away from an abusive marriage. I left one cold November evening with only that which I could carry and headed south. Living on a prayer is a phrase most underestimated, it was more like living on faith.

This faith, did not fail me. Yes, it was faith in an unseen God yet it was also faith in others, and faith in myself. It was a hope that things can only get better from here. That they did. Day by day and even hour by hour - this faith was tested to the extremes.

Today, I'm still kind of poor - but I know that I have been blessed. The spirit of unconditional compassion, giving and love shown through in the most humblest and unlikely of places. Opportunities were given that I gladly had taken and my life blossomed into something greater than I even imagined.

I did not get here by myself and could not do it all alone. The true love that Christ once displayed had kept me through this terrible time. Whether the giver was Christian or known Christ not at all - still, it was of the same heart, mind and spirit of the Christ the gospels speak of.

Unconditional love.... it's the only way for all.

Just my two cents, for it makes sense to me. =O)

8:14 PM  
Blogger Josie said...

Wow, Dr. John, good for you! You and your church put your money where your mouth is!

My goodness, I read some of BBC's comments, and I found them unbelievably ignorant. Scrooge lives. Perhaps he is just lonely.

Bah humbug!

10:17 PM  

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