Texas Baptists are generous, but our giving to fight hunger and poverty has lagged this year. Through August, Texas Baptists gave $548,395 through the Texas Baptist Hunger Offering. That's a lot of money, but it is significantly less than we gave last year -- $727,877 or 75.3 percent.
As we give millions of dollars to support church programs, it is important to remember that Jesus said care for the poor is a key indicator that a person is seeking to follow Him. When we seek to follow Christ we will have a Spirit-inspired burden to care for those who suffer. If we don't, something's wrong with our spiritual life.
Despite the lag in giving, the 18 Texas Baptists on the Christian Life Commission last month approved $35,000 to address the Ebola crisis in West Africa and another $103,000 to support Southern Baptist International Mission Board projects in Brazil, India, Spain and Thailand.
We would like to push more aid to West Africa, but giving to the Texas Baptist Hunger Offering must make up the gap during the last quarter of the year if this is going to happen.
Of course, the Texas Baptist Hunger Offering is also about addressing hunger in our state, where:
- More than one in six Texans, 4.8 million (17.9 percent), live in poverty.
- Household food insecurity is significantly higher than the national average -- 18.4 percent in 2010-2012.
- Child food insecurity in 2011 was 27.6 percent, which includes 1.8 million children and places Texas ninth highest in the nation.
There are many ways to address hunger and poverty needs, but the Texas Baptist Hunger Offering provides a means for financially supporting Christ-centered ministries that respond to both physical and spiritual needs.
One hundred percent of Texas Baptist Hunger Offering gifts go to ministries in Texas and around the world. Administrative costs are covered by the Texas Baptist Cooperative Program.
My prayer is that Texas Baptists will end the year strong in giving through the Hunger Offering. The needs are great; our generosity is great.
Do Justice. Love Kindness. Walk Humbly with God. (Micah 6:8)