Book Review: Exodus From Hunger

June 21, 2012 at 8:01 am Leave a comment

David Beckmann is the President of Bread for the World and a recipient of the 2010 World Food Prize for his advocacy work. This book is a call to build a movement to create an Exodus from Hunger, to see that all God’s children are removed from this basic fear, this cripling of opportunity.

Key points:

Part 1: Where things stand now

1. Widespread and increasing hunger

Hunger has increased rencently due to the worldwide downturn, but progress is achievable and dramatic progress has been made over the past 50 years. The proportion of malnourished people cut in half since 1970. The number of preventable child deaths per day cut in half since 1960.

Importance of politics: the key limiting constraint to further progress is political will. Private relief is important but insufficient by itself. All food banks = 6% Snap and School lunches.

God is present in this struggle, and calls on us to do our part. The God of the bible insist on just laws and is concerned about the behavior or nations as well and individuals.

2. Dramatic progress is feasible

We know how to end hunger (expand existing programs), whats missing is the political will.

3. Countries that have reduce poverty

He gives examples of countries that have made progress. The key Lesson being that economic growth and programs to reduce hunger which include work incentives must work side by side. Peace and security are also preconditions to progress.

Poverty and hunger cannot be eliminated by either economic growth or government programs alone, each is needed. Gvernment involvement and policitcal committment is key.

Part 2: Where we want to go

4. God moving in our time

Working for justice is a way to connect to God. God acts in history. For example:

Exodus – a political message to let the slaves go free.

Law of Moses – Against the law to harvest to the edge of the fields, some was to be left for the poor to gleam. Could not make servent work every day. Every 50th year was a year of Jubilee where debts would be forgiven and land redistributed.

Prophets – Lobbied government to give up idols and to protect and give justice to the poor.

Jesus ties faith and action together in Mat 25, where he identifies himself with the poor. We can never earn our way to God, but faith and works are inseparable. Faith is shown by its fruits. We can “pursue a wholesome lifestyle, but if we dont help people in need, our faith remains self centered.”

Key quote: The exodus from hunger and poverty is God moving in our time. Being part of it is important to our spiritual life and to the future of our nation.

5. Getting serious about poverty would be good for america.

Its important for americans to believe and know that our nation stands for higher principles, but we usually give higher priority to individual libety, economic growth and military strength over helping the poor. Inequality is an ever increasing problem.

The key point is that free market policies and economic growth dont automatically open opportunity for everyone. Private and government programs focused on the poor must also be involved.

Getting the poor the opportunity to fully participate in the economy would increase growth and reduce the problems caused by inequality, the misery of poverty.

There is a relationship in the developing world between inequality and instability, including the likely of civil war within a poor country.

6. People of faith can make Congress work

He goes through the past successes of Bread and its allied groups to increase aid that has reduced suffering around the world and the key role that ordinary citizens can play when they ask their representatives to take action.

7. Hopeful developments in US Politics

There is alot to fear now with the rise of the Ryan budget and the call to rollback government involvement in programs to help the poor. This chapter emphasizes some hopeful developments from private sources and some areas where Conservatives and Liberals have worked together.

8 A time to change history for hungry people

He mentions 4 key issues:

Ending Domestic Childhood Hunger, mainly through strengthening existing programs.

Global hunger and food security initiative, through greater investment in Agricultural development (the neglect of which has kept many countries from advancing).

More and better Development Assistance. Reform and streamline our aid programs, which are currently spread out thin over different agencies and do not have a coordinated focus.

Reformed Farm Bill. Reducing subsidies for wealthy farmers and redirecting the aid to where the need is greatest.

Part 3 How we get there together

9. How God has drawn me in

In this chapter, David tells his personal story on how faith has led him through the personal challenges of his life and continues to call to take action to bring opportunity to all Gods people.

10 Take a step

The emphasis is to get moving forward in your journey to serve God in all aspects of your life. At home with your family, locally with charitable groups, regionally and nationally with your voice and advocacy. An effective response to hunger stands on 2 legs: private relief and public policies, neither can do the job alone. We will also need more help from the private for profilt sector to change the politics of hunger.

11. We need God

The final main thesis of this book is that this is a movement of God in the world. We are doing his work when we help and advocacte for our neighbor. As Christians we need to do this work, it is inseparable from our faith.


Entry filed under: Newsletters.

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