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Find strength

25 September 2013

This is one of a series of weekly Christian reflections and prayers for the IF campaign that focuses on the theme of 'Our Daily Bread', with contributors from CAFOD, Tearfund and Christian Aid.

This week's reflection is a contribution from Tearfund. 

market traders  

I'm still wearing my IF badge on my lapel, and my wristband.

Yes, the G8 in my wee country is over and we made some impact, but tonight a huge percentage of the world will go to bed hungry.

We need to keep imagining the four 'IFs' - keep on imagining and acting.

What is also needed is the drive and enthusiasm so many of us showed during the campaign.

  • If my children were going to bed hungry tonight, would I respond with apathy?' 

Where can we find that stamina for Kingdom coming transformation? I find it in two places.

Firstly, the Scriptures. When Jesus called us to love our neighbour, this included introducing us to those children who have nothing to eat and no clean water to drink. To love them as ourselves - or to paraphrase, as we love our own children.

If my children were going to bed hungry tonight, would I respond with apathy, or simply view them as I would a photograph or a number? No!

If the children in the house up the road were going to bed hungry, would I mobilise my church to help? Yes!

A U2 lyric has long been a dog at my heel, feeding my stamina for some years: 'Would you deny for others what you demand for yourself?'

That's a good Bible commentary on Luke 6:31 - 'Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.'

As a follower of Jesus, I am always keen to meet him. I am convinced that he would rather I met him in the 'least of these' (Matthew 25:40), the hungry, than he would in a decadent church building in a wealthy city postcode where 'two or three are gathered together' (Matthew 18:20)!

The reason I believe this is because I have met Jesus in both places and there is a tangible difference in the experience.

The second place I go to keep my energy alive is to remember those children I have met who are hungry.

Back in 1990, I took a photograph in Quezon City, the Philippines, of a little girl pushing a few peas around on her plate. It was her only meal of the day.

The photograph was beautiful, the reality so deeply painful.

For me the important thing is that this little girl was not a photograph, nor a diary entry in my travel memoir. She was a real human being who was very hungry, malnourished and wide open to disease. 

I sometimes wonder if she made it, if she is still alive, if she ever had any children.

It's this 'IF' that we need to eradicate from this world.

It is about justice winning over evil. It is love as a revolutionary action. It is what the Kingdom coming is all about.

IF. If I hold to the Scriptural vision of the Kingdom and remember the children I have seen living with obscene and inhumane hunger, it should propel me to not only pray 'thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as in heaven', but to live and serve God, who will make it happen.


Lord, I offer myself to you and to my neighbour, at home and across the world. Use me for your purposes, to bring your will on earth as it is in heaven. Increase my stamina to live for your Kingdom. Amen.

Steve Stockman, minister of Fitzroy Presbyterian Church, Belfast, author of 'Walk On: The Spiritual Journey of U2' and blogger on matters where faith and culture meet.


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