Motivation for the Marketplace

Hunger--Up-close and Childlike

My wife and I teach a first and second grade Sunday School class in our inner city church. Our church enjoys the benefits and the challenges of a multi-cultural, multi-racial group. Every Sunday turns into a learning experience for all of us.

Last Sunday we welcomed two out-of-town guests to our class. The brother and sister duo lived in East Texas and were visiting relatives with their parents. As the other children welcomed them eagerly, they fit right in. The frefreshments we bring each week provide one of the highlights of our class time. We try to keep things simple. Typically, we serve donuts or kolaches and orange juice. As usual, when the children discovered we had a snack prepared, they began circling our bags and asking what we had to eat. While serving the snacks last Sunday, I observed something that really touched and concerned me. When we invited our guests to join us for something to eat, they casually told us they were not hungry. Eventually they decided to drink some juice and nibble on a kolache. By contrast, our children eagerly received the food we served and asked if seconds would be available.

It should have come as no surprise. The children who regularly attend our Sunday School class often arrive hungry. Little children, residents of Dallas, Texas, know hunger as a regular part of daily life. But, there is more. When class ended, several older elementary school children came to our room. They knew we brought snacks. I had to turn them away because we did not have enough for everyone. I had done that before, but because of what I had observed moments before in class, I felt rotten doing so.

"ALL OUR KIDS ARE HUNGRY!" I told my wife on our way home after church. The faces of hungry children tend to put many things in perspective. A child's hunger shifts my financial goals. Childhood hunger tends to refocus the ongoing welfare reform debate. It forces me to recognize the complex challenges associated with providing public education to these same kids. (My hunch is learning and a growling stomach don't work very well together.) The image of a six year old little boy with powdered sugar on his face asking for another donut, deflates my crazy excitement about material trinkets, gadgets and "toys." In the face of persistent, childhood hunger the concerns occupying my mind grow much more basic.

Hungry children in Dallas, Texas? They are here by the thousands. And it just shouldn't be this way.

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