COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (BP) -- Six-year-old Madeline Gillott is intent on giving to Southern Baptists' World Hunger Fund "so kids don't starve and have lots to eat and can hear about Jesus."
Madeline and each member of her family -- parents Josh and Lauren Gillott and 3-year-old sister Aubrey -- have been putting a dollar each month this year into a World Hunger Fund box hand-carved by fellow church member Ed McGee.
It's a new initiative at Circle Drive Baptist Church in Colorado Springs, birthed in what pastor Mike Routt describes as the "creative mind and administrative skills" of his wife Kathy, the church's children's minister. Everyone at Circle Drive, including children, is asked to give $1 each month to the World Hunger Fund (also being branded as Global Hunger Relief). It's an initiative that combines helping the needy and teaching youngsters the importance of giving.
Watching Kids on Mission videos and teaching lessons during Wednesday night sessions helped birth the idea in Kathy Routt's mind.
"As I watched and heard the different prayer requests ... it hit me that I am the rich person in the world," she said. "As I was praying and thinking about it -- our church is so sacrificial and giving -- what if everyone would just give $1 a month more for the World Hunger Fund? Everybody can spare one dollar."
Circle Drive's World Hunger Fund box, about the size of a 12-inch cube, is placed at the back of the worship center each Sunday, and at the end of the month, the money is counted and sent immediately on to the World Hunger Fund.
"That way it can go ahead and be used," Routt said. "We say, 'Don't put in a dollar for each of your kids. Let them do it. Let them learn the joy of giving.'"
A bad snowstorm hit town the Sunday when Circle Drive first promoted its new World Hunger Fund box, so a second inaugural Sunday was slated in early March. By the end of the month, $1,045.07 had come in, with an additional $2,600 contributed over the next four months.
In addition to its innovative world hunger initiative, the church is generous in giving to missions through the Cooperative Program and seasonal offerings, and church members often are involved in hands-on missions activities.
The Gillott family got behind the idea of each giving $1 a month to the World Hunger Fund because they had seen the needs of families in their community, and as they have heard about mission trips to Africa and Asia that Madeline's grandfather has been on.
"We have it very good here in the United States and it is important for Madeline to learn to care about others who have needs," Lauren Gillott said. "If Madeline puts the money in the box herself, she can better understand what it is all about."
Because the SBC's World Hunger Fund/Global Hunger Relief works through missionaries and other Southern Baptist representatives already on site, there are no administration or promotional costs. Every dollar given is used to alleviate hunger, and those who share the food also share the Gospel message.
Every 3.6 seconds someone dies of hunger somewhere in the world, and 75 percent of those who die are children, according to statistics compiled for the SBC's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. Approximately 1 billion people throughout the world do not have enough food, and every day nearly 16,000 children die from hunger-related issues.
The SBC's World Hunger Fund was established by the SBC Executive Committee in 1981, and from its beginning, the fund -- not a special seasonal offering, but an ongoing fund constantly being replenished -- was allocated 80 percent for overseas work and 20 percent in North America.
The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission was tasked with its promotion because hunger is a moral issue. "What God is doing in churches such as Circle Drive Baptist is a sign of the Kingdom," ERLC President Russell D. Moore said. "These congregations are equipping the whole body to join Jesus in serving the least of these, His brothers and sisters around the world.
"This sort of ministry not only feeds hungry people, it also disciples consciences for a lifetime of ministry," Moore said. "Can you imagine the force for mission our churches would be if every congregation called on each member to hear the cries of the starving and vulnerable?"
For instructions on how to construct a World Hunger Fund box, contact Ed McGee at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Karen L. Willoughby is retired as managing editor of the Louisiana Baptist Message. This article first appeared in SBC LIFE (www.sbclife.net), journal of the Southern Baptist Convention's Executive Committee.
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