At this time of the year, we need to take stock of what we have done to relieve the pain and suffering that millions of Americans and other people in the world face every day. Even though the United States is one of the leading food-producing nations in the world, millions of our citizens go to bed without food every night. We applaud those who have contributed to alleviating hunger and homelessness, but we have a long way to go to adequately address the situation.
According to Feed America, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines “food insecurity” as “a lack of consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life” (https://bit.ly/2EaAqpA). An estimated 1 in 8 people in America face hunger which means 40 million Americans struggle to put food on the table. Sadly, 40 percent of food in the U.S. is thrown out every year, or about $165 billion worth. All of this uneaten food could feed 25 million Americans (https://bit.ly/2xJe4pI).
We also face a housing crisis in America. According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition (nlihc. org), a family with a full-time worker making minimum wage could not afford Fair Market Rent for a two-bedroom apartment anywhere in the U.S. A renter earning the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour would need to work 99 hours per week to afford a one-bedroom rental home at the Fair Market Rent and 122 hours per week to afford a two-bedroom rental home.
In light of these facts, what are we doing to help relieve the pain and suffering that those who are hungry and homeless face every day? More specifically, what is the Seventh-day Adventist Church doing to help alleviate this problem? We appreciate what ADRA (Adventist Development and Relief Agency) is doing around the world and Adventist Community Services (ACS) in the United States. In the Atlantic Union Conference our various entities are actively implementing many initiatives in an effort to address the problem of hunger and homelessness. However, what we, as a church, are able to do is a small fraction of what’s needed.
Matthew 25:31-45 records that when the Son of Man comes to judge the world, before Him will gather the nations of the earth. He will separate the inhabitants into two groups: one on the right and one on the left. “Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me’ ” (verses 34-36, NKJV).
Those who did not feed the hungry, clothe the naked, take care of the sick and deprived, will meet the wrath of God. Ellen White wrote, “When the nations are gathered before Him, there will be but two classes, and their eternal destiny will be determined by what they have done or have neglected to do for Him in the person of the poor and the suffering”—The Desire of Ages, p. 637. Please note that we are not saved by what we do; what we do reveals whether or not we have been saved by the blood of the Lamb.
As we come toward the end of the year, let us remember the less fortunate, who cannot adequately provide for their personal needs. Remember that we are the hands and feet of Jesus to provide help for those who don’t have the resources to provide for themselves. Jesus said to those on His left hand, “Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me”—Matthew 25:45, NKJV.
G. Earl Knight is president of the Atlantic Union Conference and chairman of the Atlantic Union College Board of Trustees.