By Abby Hopkins
So often, the Lord uses the testimonies of His people to impact others with similar life struggles. For Elisa Valadez, whose story includes abuse, homelessness, and heartache, she knew she wanted to serve her community in this way to offer others the same hope she found in Christ.
Valadez began Pantry of Hope through First Baptist Church Laredo in 2016. Starting with a closet, the ministry opened the second Saturday of each month with food and clothing for families in the community to receive.
Texas Baptist Hunger Offering funds are used to purchase groceries for the pantry.
“It’s a blessing to have money come in that serves the community,” Valadez said.
By Abby Hopkins
In rural, economically depressed communities in Macedonia, one cow can go a long way.
Macedonia Cow Bank is a Texas Baptist Hunger Offering supported ministry that aims to serve these communities by providing cows to local farmers and pastors. Jeff Lee, director of the organization, began the ministry when he was introduced to a local who wanted to farm.
“The purpose of the cow bank is to help other local farmers and pastors through loaning a cow to them so that they can help their own family, sell the milk, or give the milk/cheese/butter to the congregation,” Lee said.
Lee and other staff identify potential applicants, meet with them to ensure they will work and do the job, then provide a cow when the applicant is ready. Recipients then repay the loan by giving back the first calf.
Last year, a group of local pastors approached Lee and requested help. Macedonia Cow Bank gave the pastors six cows and have seen successful results. The pastors have started selling milk and have used profits for outreach in their communities.
In his acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, Martin Luther King Jr. declared:
I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits. I believe that what self-centered men have torn down men other-centered can build up.
Merriam Webster’s Thesaurus lists shameless boldness as the best synonym for the word audacity.
Dr. King embodied righteous audacity as he proclaimed that every person regardless of race, country, or creed has the right to a full and healthy life despite the realities of oppression in the world.
Is this not the very essence of faith in Christ? Despite darkness, light wins. Despite oppression, freedom prevails. Despite hunger, people eat in abundance. The first shall be last. This audacious faith seems fitting for people who believe the God of the Universe became human in order to save the entire world from sin and evil.
In Texas, one in four children struggle with hunger. Our state ranks last -- 51st (50 states plus the District of Columbia) -- in terms of health care coverage. Thirty-one percent of Texans under 65 do not have health insurance and have barriers to adequate healthcare.
Education is a valued process of growth and development in pivotal years of one’s life, yet it is not always accessible. As a new school year begins, many are unable to afford the costs of learning.
By Jaclyn Bonner
The traditional American narrative boasts that anyone can make it if he or she works hard. But the social systems and economic stratum one is born into can often exclude a person from having an opportunity to attain the “American dream.”
West Dallas denizens face a challenging situation. Generational poverty is commonplace in the 11 square miles of Zip code 75212. “More than one of every three families lives below the federal poverty level,” reports Brother Bill’s Helping Hand, a Texas Baptist Hunger Offering ministry that has worked in the community for 75 years.
Unemployment in West Dallas is at 10.5 percent, double the Texas unemployment rate, and 45 percent of West Dallas households earn less than $25,000 annually. More than half of West Dallas adults did not complete high school. The average pre-K child has a vocabulary of 1,500 to 2,000 words, compared to the 5,000 to 7,000-word vocabulary of children living in more affluent Dallas neighborhoods.
Moreover, a health crisis, job loss, and/or family tragedy can drastically change a household’s economic status, creating food insecurity and leading directly to poverty.
In 2015, Elaine Rodriguez* took a medical leave of absence from her work. Dealing with health complications and less income, Elaine and her husband, Jacob*, members of Bill Harrod Memorial Baptist Church, had difficulty putting food on the table.