One of the factors dividing U.S. communities is access to food, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship leader Suzii Paynter says in a series of videos featuring Christian leaders produced by the anti-hunger ministry Bread for the World.
Paynter, executive coordinator of the 1,800-church Fellowship based in Decatur, Ga., said one affluent segment of culture takes a “refined, artistic approach” to food expressed in trends like farm-to-table restaurants, while in the same community so-called food deserts marked by “a desperation about food” often exist.
“I would just appeal to the folks who are really thinking about the health of their own family and the nutritious nature of the food they are feeding and the many choices they have and thinking how to share and how to be good stewards of what they’ve learned about food, to be able to take it to the rest of their community,” Paynter said. “This is truly a way of giving back.”
Paynter said feeding people took center stage in the miracles and ministry of Jesus Christ in all four Gospels and should be viewed as a central way to show “the compassionate face of God in this world” today.
She described the work of the CBF’s 130 field personnel in the United States and around the world doing their part to pursue a collective goal of ending hunger by 2030.
“In the U.S. our commitment as Cooperative Baptists to the 20 poorest counties in the United States for 20 years has meant in every one of those counties addressing not just the meal that’s needed for the day or for a certain crisis but changing the face of that community so that everyone eats,” she said.
Paynter said nearly every one of the 70 different sites where CBF field personnel are placed around the globe “connects in some way with a hunger or feeding ministry as a part of the work.”
“Sometimes it’s with displaced people,” she said. “Right now the surge of refugees and migrants around the world — in Lebanon and Jordan and Eastern Europe right now, in the Ukraine — we are serving folks who are displaced completely. That means feeding those folks, maybe 10,000 people at a time. So that’s a very major part of what we’re interested in globally, responding to those demands that come from crisis situations.”
Bread for the World, a grassroots network mobilizing Christians to contact their government leaders about ending poverty founded by Lutheran pastor Art Simon in 1974, is one of 37 CBF “partners,” independent missions, ministry and theological education organizations that cooperate with the Fellowship in mutually beneficial ways established through written agreement.
Paynter’s video is part of a series called Faith to End Hunger featuring Christian leaders who speak about why their religious tradition believes working to end hunger is important, what the Bible says about ending hunger, how they have been affected by people who are hungry and poor and what advocacy means in the lives of disciples of Jesus.
Other videos include comments by Shane Claiborne, founder of The Simple Way; Jim Wallis, president and founder of Sojourners; and others.