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
"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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