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Oct5WedCanadian Foodgrains Bank-sponsored event a way to “respond to the issue of hunger” October 5, 2011
On October 16, James Kornelsen wants you to fast—for change.
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“Fasting is a way to change yourself, change your relationship to God, and change the world,” says Kornelsen, who coordinates the annual Canadian Foodgrains Bank Fast for Change event.
“It's a way for people of faith to respond to the issue of hunger through fasting, praying, advocating and giving.”
Timed to coincide with the United Nations World Food Day, an international day to remember global food needs, the goal of Fast for Change is to “invite Christians to take time to remember the almost one billion people in the world who don't have enough to eat, and reflect on God's desire that no one go hungry,” Kornelsen says.
It's also a way for Canadian Christians to encourage the Federal Government to make the needs of poor people a top priority.
“As individuals, we need to do whatever we can to help people in the developing world,” Kornelsen says. “But there are structural issues that can help or hinder the cause of ending global hunger.”
This year people who participate in Fast for Change are being asked to send a letter to Members of Parliament thanking the Federal Government for committing $400 million in 2010 to help developing countries adapt to, and fight climate change, and to encourage it to maintain that commitment for 2011 and 2012.
“Changing weather patterns are making it harder for people in the developing world to grow food,” Kornelsen says, adding that “partners from other countries often tell us that farmers no longer know when rain will come.”
Funds from Canada were designed to help poor farmers find ways to collect water, develop better irrigation systems, or otherwise find ways to adapt to changes in their climate, he notes.
“Unfortunately, most of Canada's money went as loans through the World Bank for clean energy development, and failed to reach the most vulnerable,” he says. “Through Fast for Change, we want to encourage Canada to continue this funding, but to make sure it gets to those who need it most.”
More Than Not Eating
While fasting is usually associated with not eating, that's not the only way people can participate in Fast for Change, Kornelsen notes.
“It can also be taking time away from an activity, like not going to movies, sports events or anything else. The point is to pause and reflect on what it means to have enough,” he says.
But fasting from food—for those who can do it—is a good way to remember the issue of hunger as it applies to those who have little, and those who have much, he adds.
“Being hungry, even if it's just a little bit, is a way to identify with the needs of poor people,” he says.
He's quick to note, however, that “we're not trying to pretend by fasting from a meal or two that we are can really feel the pain of those who are truly hungry. Fasting in whatever way reveals our need for God. As Christians it points us back to Jesus ministry that was directed to those who suffered the indignity of hunger.”
Since World Food Day falls on a Sunday this year, Kornelsen says it's an excellent time for churches to take time during their worship services to reflect on the needs of hungry people around the world.
“We'll have resources on our website to help churches pray and reflect on the needs of those who don't have enough to eat,” he says, adding that families can also participate by eating a simple meal and donating what they saved.
The needs of people suffering due to drought in east Africa underscores the importance of taking time to fast, pray and reflect on the issue of hunger, Kornelsen adds.
When it comes to ending global hunger, “there are lots of things people can do to help those who don't have enough to eat,” he notes. “But fasting is a good way, and a biblical way, to change our lives, our perspective and our
relationship with a God who cares for everyone on the planet, and wants for all to have enough to eat.”
People who want to participate in Fast for Change can visit www.fastforchange.ca.
Canadian Foodgrains Bank is a partnership of 15 churches and church agencies, which includes The Salvation Army, working together to end global hunger.