Bread for the World… and Our Neighbor

by Jordan Yeager

I read a book this summer about Mother Theresa. Mother believed her job was to take care of people’s immediate needs, to feed them and give them a place to sleep. The book said people often criticized her for that, because they said giving poor people food and clothes doesn’t make them any less poor, it just puts a Band-Aid over their gaping wounds.

Mother Theresa just told them they were right, that there are systems in our world that need to be altered to rid the world of poverty, but that God didn’t tell her to do that. He told her to take care of the widow and orphan, to feed the old man starving on the streets of Calcutta.

I very much agreed with Mother when I read her words, and I resonated with her sentiment and her heart to take care of the people right outside her door instead of worrying about obscure societal systems. When I look at my Nashville bubble I see a lot of well-meaning people who give their resources to charity and talk a lot about social justice. But I also see us forgetting about the homeless people on our own street corners and the kids over in Edgehill without parents.

So when I read Mother Theresa’s story I marveled at her obedience on such a basic level.

But when David Beckmann came to Belmont last week, I saw the other side of the coin. I saw that it’s possible for big-picture activism and raw good deeds to meet, at least if you are intentional about it. Because although Bread for the World is an organization concerned with influencing our government’s policies that affect hunger and poverty, there are very real people who benefit from their work. They care about the poor who live outside their doors. Beckmann even shared the story of how his own son, adopted from a woman who was too poor to provide for him, benefitted from the very programs Bread for the World has fought to provide.

And so I just keep going back to what Mother Theresa said. There are systems in our world that need to be altered to rid the world of poverty. But there are also widows and orphans that God placed outside our doors that can’t wait for Congress to help them. As college students, we are in a unique place to participate in both worlds – writing our leaders and advocating for the poor on the government level, and going downtown to OUR poor in OUR city and sharing hope with them.

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