In one of the last events of the 2022 Annual Meeting, attendees to the Texas Baptist Hunger Offering luncheon heard how one Waco ministry is both helping meet hunger needs as well as using education to perpetuate those efforts worldwide.
Katie Walter, executive director of World Hunger Relief International, Inc., shared how the 40-acre farm developed food production systems and has operated a sustainable farm since 1976. In addition, the farm hosts numerous interns from around the world to serve the ministry.
The organization goes beyond basic farm operation to focus on education, bringing in various field trips groups to learn about their processes and impact and welcoming visitors from around the globe to share sustainable farming techniques that can be replicated in other places. They also partner with the local Waco Family Medicine clinics to provide produce for families in need and host cooking classes to show creative and healthy ways to prepare the fresh food.
“Equal access to food must include decent food, and unfortunately that is not a given in today’s world,” noted Walter. “When I think about hunger I think about those way, way off. But here in Waco 23% of children are food insecure. We have hundreds of churches here, so how can this be? We have to do something, and it takes all of us.”
Walter noted that the farm has prioritized teaching others how to continue the work. Its partnership with nearby Truett Seminary offers a practical “classroom” for studies in theology, ecology and social justice. She expressed gratitude for donations that help the program stay effective and vital.
“We could not have done this program without the support of the Hunger Offering. It does not make sense to grow a bunch of vegetables and give them away for free. That is the mystery of our faith that will forever compel me,” Walter laughed. “Through this offering you have allowed this love to grow. Thank you for letting us create the place and body for love to grow.”
World Hunger Relief International is one of 89 ministries in Texas that receives support from the Texas Baptist Hunger Offering. Additionally, 49 international ministries were supported, with more than 3.2 million people served in 2020. The offering is collected in Texas Baptists churches on each fifth Sunday and on Mother’s Day every year. It is a ministry of the Christian Life Commission.
Dr. Tim Fuller of African American Ministries brought the luncheon’s message, who drew on Jesus’ first sermon in Luke 4 to emphasize the importance of hunger relief. When handed the scroll of Isaiah, Fuller said, Jesus could have drawn on any passage but chose chapter 61 to proclaim his purpose on Earth.
“Jesus goes all the way to the text with these words: ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to preach the good news to the poor,’ and that told the heart of His ministry,” said Fuller.
He noted that much of Jesus’ ministry was taking care of those less fortunate and meeting their needs while sharing the good news of salvation with them. Fuller explained that is what the Hunger Offering tries to replicate.
“It gives help for the poor, but it also gives hope for the poor. They’re going to need something after the sandwich, after the soup. The Texas Baptist Hunger Offering understands that it is good to deal with sandwiches but you have to deal with systems. It’s good to deal with cereal but you have to deal with the cycles of poverty,” he said. “When you give, you are making an impact on people that God has a heart for.”
Dr. Irene Gallegos, director of Hunger and Care at Texas Baptists, wrapped up the luncheon by handing out awards to the top 10 Texas churches contributing to the Hunger Offering. Those included Pioneer Drive Baptist Church in Abilene, The Oaks Baptist Church in Grand Prairie, First Baptist Church Kilgore, First Baptist Church Arlington, Westgate Memorial Baptist Church in Beaumont, Calvary Baptist Church in McAllen, Trinity Baptist Church in Kerrville, First Baptist Church Corpus Christi, First Baptist Church Abilene and Crossroads Country Church in Amarillo.
Texas Baptists is a movement of God’s people to share Christ and show love by strengthening churches and ministers, engaging culture and connecting the nations to Jesus.
The ministry of the convention is made possible by giving through the Texas Baptists Cooperative Program, Mary Hill Davis Offering® for Texas Missions, Texas Baptists Worldwide and Texas Baptist Missions Foundation. Thank you for your faithful and generous support.
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