This week, we invited Billy Kangas from Bread for the World to write about how his Catholic faith affect his work at Bread for the World.
I see the world through “bread–colored” lenses. By this I mean that when I approach issues of politics, economics, the environment, immigration, worship, trade, agriculture, and just about everything else in this world, there is a question in the back of my mind: the way these issues impact how people will be able to eat. I have discovered that hunger is a barb that seems to follow all kinds of injustice. In a world where there is more than enough to eat, when people go hungry, it is often a sign that there are systems that can be changed and probably should be changed. I see the world through bread-colored lenses, and that is why I chose to work at Bread for the World.
Bread for the World is a collective Christian voice urging our nation’s policy makers to end hunger at home and abroad. I love this mission. I have given my life for the church. I spent 10 years working in local churches preaching, teaching, and leading people to encounter God, the just One, who leads us to work for justice. In that time, I saw the power of faith communities to affect change. We would go out on the streets to feed the hungry, help establish food pantries, work at soup kitchens, and participate in efforts around the globe that sought to free communities from hunger.
Gradually, I started to see that those efforts were an essential part of addressing hunger, but not a full solution. You can give a man a fish, or even teach a man to fish, but if the fish pond has been locked up and all the bait and tackle are taken away, he's not going to be able to survive on fish very long. Many of the issues that cause hunger in the world today are systemic and global, and require global leaders to address the systems that keep people hungry and impoverished.
Bread for the World encourages Christian voices from across denominational traditions to come together and, with one voice, proclaim that food is a human right necessary for all of us to fulfill our most basic vocation, that of life itself. Bread has been able to cut across the divides of policy, theology, and political affiliation to make sure that members of Congress take seriously the concerns of hunger, both in this country and around the world. For the past 40 years, Bread for the World has been able to not only affect significant change in Congress, but also to equip thousands of churches and communities of faith to make addressing hunger a part of their spiritual lives together. Through the annual Offering of Letters and countless other mobilization efforts, prayer and action have been united, and communities have been equipped in their mission to invite the justice of God into the communities they inhabit.
I also see the world through Catholic-colored lenses. My faith inspires and enlivens every part of my life and work. My role at Bread for the World is to represent and reach out to Catholics in Bread's work. I help ensure that everything that Bread does is not only compatible with Catholic teaching, but also that it can be enriched by Catholic teaching. The Catholic Church has a great deal to offer to ecumenical efforts to establish a just and equitable world, and I have the great pleasure of meeting and planning with Catholic leaders around the nation about how we can work together to bring the wisdom and resources of the Catholic Church to bear on the global movement to end hunger.