Bread of life
John Bueno, executive director of Assemblies of God World
Missions, recently shared his thoughts on the plight of
the hungry with Randy Hurst, director of AGWM Media/Advancement.
What is the value of setting aside one day a year to remind
churches of the problem of hunger around the world?
Throughout Scripture, God placed a heavy emphasis on meeting
the needs of the poor. His admonition to defend the poor
is woven through much of the Old Testament. In the New
Testament, compassion for the poor was acted out in flesh
and blood through Jesus’ life. World Hunger Day
is an opportunity to remind churches that we must not
forget something that God thinks is very important.
is this highlight especially significant on the Sunday
We are a people of grace, because it is only through God’s
grace that we have anything — spiritually or materially.
Sadly, a current trend is one of entitlement. People seem
to think they are owed certain things. Eventually, this
can even transfer into spiritual thought and cause us
to believe that we’re entitled to certain blessings
from God. In truth, we’re not entitled to anything,
but we are blessed beyond measure simply by God’s
grace. Thanksgiving is a time when we can say, “Thank
You, Lord, for Your grace and what You’ve done in
my life.” In turn we can respond to needs around
us — not out of duty, but rather out of gratitude
for what God has done for us.
How do World Hunger Day funds help address the growing
problem of hunger?
A person does not have to travel far to see poverty and
hunger — especially in other countries. In some
nations, the majority of the population goes to bed hungry
every night. World Hunger Day funds enable us to respond
when people are suffering from hunger. We may not have
enough to meet every need, but at least we can do our
part to assist in crisis
How does assistance given through Assemblies of God Relief
differ from that of secular or government agencies?
Something unique takes place when we as a church respond
to the needs of the world rather than relegating responsibility
to an agency. When Assemblies of God Relief responds to
needs, it represents an expression of caring from hundreds
of local churches. I believe this is the way the Lord
intends to touch people in need, and it follows the pattern
given in Scripture. The problem with government-funded
and many parachurch organizations is that they are so
sensitive about not offending anyone and being all things
to all people that they fail to address the most critical
need, which is spiritual. The essence of what we do is
share Jesus Christ. Yes, we will meet physical needs,
but we can’t leave the best out simply because we
don’t want to offend someone.
How important is it to coordinate relief efforts with
local churches in areas of need?
The gospel is the most necessary thing on earth. But a
lot of people can’t concentrate on the message because
they’re hungry. Feeding the hungry and sharing the
gospel must be combined. If we simply give someone a little
food, we have accomplished very little good in the long
run. We must also give them the Bread of Life. By working
with national believers in local churches, the Assemblies
of God has been able to walk through open doors to cultures
and societies that otherwise would have been impenetrable.
National believers will remain after the crisis has passed.
Through our missionaries and national ministers, we give
people in America the opportunity to make an eternal difference
in a time of need. When hurting people see that Christians
genuinely care, their hearts are open to our message.
God uses the material things to open doors to the spiritual
and draw people to the message of Christ.
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