St. Peter's Blog 'Death By Bread Alone' from St. Peter’s Evangelical Lutheran Church – North Wales, PA's Blog

Death By Bread Alone

Image Friday, Feb 6, 2015
Author: Pastor Andreas Wagner

This blog is about pastor's upcoming trip to Haiti and the challenges of poor communitie as opposed to our challenges.

"Death by bread alone" is the title of a book by German theologian and feminist Dorothee Soelle, pointing at people's spiritual hunger, especially in times of material affluence. The book has lost nothing of its relevance some 30 years later. I often come back to it, often during Lent, as it reminds me of Jesus' famous word when tempted by Satan: "Man does not live from bread alone, but from every word that comes from the mouth of God."  (Matthew 4:4)

Some people may argue that people in the United States have suffered materially as a consequence of the recent depression years and that materialism is not our main issue. That may be true for a growing number of folks. But peek into people's houses, attics, garages, living rooms and you will find an abundance of "stuff"  - for most of us, still far more stuff than we need. Man does not live by bread alone, in fact an abundance of "stuff" can kill us by clogging our spiritual arteries.

With all that in mind, I will begin my Lenten journey this year by seeing for myself how people experience life who deal with the opposite problem: not enough bread, no adequate housing and severe lack of resources. On February 23 I will travel with a group of pastors from various churches and denominations to Haiti to see what "Food for the Poor" does in that country. Who knows? Maybe it will lead us to some kind of collaboration or at least better awareness and connectedness to our world's humanitarian crises. I think that God would want us to pay attention - and more!

This will be my first experience with Food for the Poor. They are a relatively young organization, having been founded in 1982, but have been rated with a five star rating by Ministry Watch and are considered the largest international relief and development organization in the United States, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy. Part of what makes them so effective is their focus on one (still large) geographical area: the Caribbean. They also have very little overhead (less than 5%) and include housing and education as main priorities besides hunger relief.

I am very curious about the state of the Haitian capital Port au Prince and its surroundings five years after the big earthquake. In addition to familiar diseases, the region has also been plagued by new virus outbreaks. In fact, this trip had been scheduled for June of 2014 but was cancelled on short notice for safety reasons, because of a major outbreak of the Chinkungunya virus, which comes originally from West Africa. 

While man does not live from bread alone, I take seriously our obligation to help, serve and empower those who have less than the minimum.  I think that God would want us to pay attention - and more!

Pastor Andreas Wagner

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