According to a 2007 report put out by the World Bank, approximately one billion people (out of 6.7 billion) live in extreme poverty, earning less than one dollar a day. The number of severely malnourished people in the world is about the same as the combined population of the United States, Canada and the European Union. Of the 11 million children under the age of five who will die this year, 60% will die from hunger-related causes.
The needs of the millions of people living with and dying from hunger seem completely overwhelming, like looking out at a crowd of five-thousand hungry people with nothing more than five loaves of bread and two fish. Still, despite the disciples’ hopelessness, a young person steps forward and offers what he has for the needs of others and God is able to grow that gift to be more than enough to meet the needs of the masses.
Right now there are about 36,000 young people gathered in New Orleans for the ELCA Youth Gathering (as well as our own friend, Joy McDonald Coltvet). They’ve been challenged to raise $1 million for the ELCA’s World Hunger appeal – and it looks like they’re going to do it. Used to being underestimated, Lutheran youth are leading the church with faith that God can use the gifts of God’s people to work miracles. In light of all we know and have experienced of God’s miraculous power in our lives and in the world – who are we to underestimate God’s power at work in us to change the world?