Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Hunger Crisis In My Own Backyard

Tonight I got to attend a panel discussion of various professionals determined to see something done about the hunger crisis in Northwest Arkansas.

Honestly, I don’t even know how I ended up at this thing. I simply have to laugh at the greatness of our God.

I think my jaw nearly hit the floor beneath my seat when I heard that Arkansas was the number ONE STATE in the country in terms of starving children. Beyond that, it turns out that Washington County (the home of the U of A, where I live) is actually the number one county in the entire state for child hunger.

Let’s just get this straight—of anywhere in the United States that God could have sent me to get a degree in dietetics, he plops me down in the middle of the most starving state in the most starving county in the entire COUNTRY. Okay Lord. Now what?

After working with a ministry reaching out to underprivileged families and children in Fayetteville last year, I was aware of the need—to an extent. If truth be told, though, I had NO IDEA the extent of the need. Homelessness in Fayetteville? I mean, yes in a big city it makes sense—but here, in a predominantly “college town”—more starving children then in the heart of downtown St. Louis? As the extent of the need begins to course into the depths of my heart, I am drawn to compassion.

 I HAVE TO DO SOMETHING. I believe God brought me here for so much more then a place to obtain a college degree. I believe He brought me here for this very purpose.  

The Lord’s timing seems to bring me to laughter often these days. Sometimes, we just have to laugh in the face of the enemy. The past two weeks God has been more clearly defining His will in the next year or so of my life. Closing doors and throwing others wide open, just waiting (oh so patiently) for me to put on my “big girl pants” and walk on through.

These two verses have somehow seeped their way into my core, that place where the spirit dwells—the place from which we as believers are drawn to compassion—to change—to a persistant yielding of our flesh and submission to the Spirit. You know what I am talking about. In fact, the latter of the two has mustered its way up onto the vast wall above my desk, those bold letters continually lingering above me—literally—a challenge…a calling…a Truth from God’s Word.

“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”  James 1:27

Isaiah 1:17, “Learn to do good; seek justice, reprove the ruthless, Defend the orphan, plead for the widow.”

The funny thing is, that I have been convinced these verses sum up the deepest passions of my heart—the life to which God has called me. These verses describe without error the hope to which I have been called. They explain why I am getting a degree in dietetics. They explain why I plan to serve overseas this summer—and upon graduation. They explain my heart for underprivileged women. They explain my draw towards  those who have been enslaved and trafficked. They explain where I have come from. They explain the unconditional, undeserving love of Jesus Christ which has been so generously lavished upon each of us who call ourselves His children. They exemplify the life of Christ.

Putting aside marriage and childbearing, this is what I desire to commit my life to doing—after graduation of course. Wait what? Well, yeah. AFTER graduation. I mean, there is no way I can be a full time student…roommate…work…serve in the church body…and live a life of service the way these scriptures depict it…right?

Tonight the Truth really pierced through my “plan” for my life. The timing of it. The way it needs to happen. The method to which I will get there.—to that long-desired, ever dreamed of place where I finally get to DO THAT with my life.

Tonight I realized I get to do that every single day. I have the choice. I can in fact pursue a degree that will better equip me to do that while in fact DOING JUST THAT. I am so excited to see how the Lord connects me with one or more of these organizations and how I actually get to use my degree for the first time—not to work in a hospital or to do a mock interview on my roommate, but to actually SERVE an underprivileged woman in need of help—to actually meet a real need!!

Whether it is teaching women and families about nutrition...for themselves, for pregnancy, for children, for gluten-free or diabetic diets. Whether it is developing a book of recipes using only ingredients available at the food shelters in town so that these women can begin to learn how to cook--rather then feeding their families fast food each night. Whether it is in fact teaching them how to cook. Whether it is planning and mobilizing the formation of a garden from which fresh produce can be provided for these children who have never even seen an apple in real life. Whether it is just serving--delivering food, watching kids, filing papers in the office.

I don’t know what the Lord is up to, but the further into the world of dietetics that I get, the less I want to look like the “typical” dietetics student in pursuit of and internship and then the career of a dietician. The further into the field I get, the more I want to use the little bits of knowledge I am learning to just apply them—not three years from now when I have the title of RD—but to apply them NOW!

I beginning to see how what I am learning inside of the classroom can truly apply to and change the community I am living in—and potentially the world. What a motivation to really understand what I am learning. For the first time in my life, the big test of my education is no longer determined by a letter grade, but by the lives impacted by it.

What a burden lifted—and what a mission to carry out.

What a faithful and patient Father. What a good and glorious plan.

What a story of God's redemption in my life--that learning about food can actaully save a life rather then obsessing about it to the point where it nearly took one.

1 comment:

  1. This is beautiful!!!!! :) "What a story of God's redemption in my life--that learning about food can actually save a life rather than obsessing about it to the point where it nearly took a life" (brought a tear to my eye)

    The Lord is real and In you!!!! The Evidence is out standing!!! :) Love you, Proud of you!!!! HE is the healer, provider, He takes care of the orphans, the hungry, the sick, the widows, and Commands us to be his hands and feet! :)