GENERAL André Cox is calling for the worldwide Salvation Army to join him in echoing the call of Pope Francis for an end to world hunger. The General says: ‘It is clear from the response of the media and from Christians of all denominations that the calls to simple living from the Pope have struck a chord. As Salvationists we have been called to serve the world's poorest people – those who have nothing. I applaud Pope Francis for putting back into the public domain, through social and mass media, the causes The Salvation Army has been addressing for almost 150 years.’
The Pope’s call to end hunger is just one of the ways in which he has placed the Roman Catholic Church at what Nancy Gibbs (Managing Editor, Time Magazine) calls: ‘the very centre of the central conversations of our time.’ His straightforward, relevant approach led to him being named Time’s Person of the Year for 2013.
The World Food Programme reports that 842 million people in the world do not have enough to eat. Poor nutrition causes nearly half (45 per cent) of deaths in children under five – 3.1 million children each year.
Many more do not develop properly because of chronic malnutrition. Sixty-six million primary school-age children attend classes hungry across the developing world, with 23 million in Africa alone.
While this is happening, the developed world wastes food on an unprecedented scale. A recent report in the United Kingdom showed that households were throwing away an average of 24 meals a month – adding up to 4.2 million tonnes of food wasted every year in just this one country.
The General continues: ‘Just over a century ago the Founder and first General of The Salvation Army, William Booth, gave a speech in which he promised to fight against the injustices of the world. It seems incredible that, despite all the technological advances in recent years, the evils he vowed to battle are still present in our society. “While children go hungry, as they do now,” he said, “I’ll fight!”
‘As the leader of a Salvation Army that today ministers in 126 countries I want to call again for a renewed fight against hunger. Salvation Army projects around the world are doing their part, providing the world's poorest people with the means to grow crops or raise livestock. Micro-credit schemes enable people to set up businesses that produce enough income for people to feed their families. Even in the developed world, Salvation Army food banks and feeding programmes are helping the most vulnerable people. Sadly, these wonderful programmes are only scratching the surface of the problem.
The General says: ‘One of The Salvation Army’s greatest strengths is that it is right at the heart of communities around the world. Today I call upon the millions of people who call The Salvation Army their church to take a stand. We must pray – calling on the God of justice to stir the hearts of people who have the power and influence to change the world.
‘We call on world leaders to work together to resolve this issue which affects the whole world, through just policies and economic engagement. And we call on Salvationists and other people to look at their own lives, educating themselves about this complex issue and making personal lifestyle changes, even down to considering where our food comes from and what we eat. Our response has to start with our own behaviour, bringing to mind the old advice to “live simply so that others may simply live”.
‘I know I can count on the Salvationists of the world to join Commissioner Silvia Cox and me in pledging again, with our movement’s Founder: “While people go hungry, I’ll Fight!” Together, let’s work to end world hunger.’