Changing the Face of Hunger
Don't read this slender hardcover, CHANGING THE FACE OF HUNGER, unless you are ready to change your life.
In 1984, Tony Hall (a congressman for almost 24 years) went to Ethiopia to help ferry supplies to a camp run by the World Vision Christian relief organization. What he experienced changed his life.
Imagine doctors who must work in an area fenced in by barbed wire because of the press of Ethiopians outside desperately trying to thrust their children into the hands of anyone who can help save them from starvation.
Imagine that these thousands of severely malnourished people are suffering from dehydration, dysentery, malaria, cholera and tuberculosis.
Imagine doctors trying to pick the six or seven children they can save each day.
Imagine that everywhere you go to try and help, there is perpetual civil war. You are a moving target and frequently have to dive out of your vehicle to avoid being killed by gunfire.
Imagine that this is not the worst.
Imagine after seeing this, you drive to where tens of thousands of Ethiopians are waiting in the blazing sun, hoping for food. All are malnourished. Most are close to death. Many are nearly naked because they have no clothes. Imagine that 25 children die before your eyes in the next few hours.
Imagine seeing children who are dying alone. Their parents are already dead.
This is not a book for the faint of heart. I was in tears by the second page. But then, perhaps it is a book for the faint of heart...and for all of us. Perhaps it is time that we let ourselves be moved by the terrible facts of hunger and injustice.
But we don't know what to do. We aren't even aware of the people who need our help. We could make a difference if we did as Mother Teresa admonished Hall: "Do the thing that is in front of you."
"I'm writing this book to put these things in front of you," says Hall.
This is a book about how people --- Democrats and Republicans, Southerners and Midwesterners, Jews and Christians, Roman Catholics and Evangelicals, liberals and conservatives, men and women --- can change the world. "I will work with anyone who shares a common goal with me," writes Hall. With this in mind, this strong man of faith has traveled to more than 100 countries, bringing the needs of the hungry, the persecuted, and the suffering to the attention of those who can help.
In his book, you'll see what difference love and focused attention can make to severely mentally disabled children, the outcasts, the terminally ill, unwed pregnant women, AIDS patients, orphans, the lepers, the polio victims, and the dying. You'll see how small business loans can change the face of poverty and give people hope and dignity. You'll see how corrupt regimes hold countries in bondage and must be courageously confronted.
It's all about starting to care about the people around us, Hall says. Do you know your next-door neighbor? Has someone just lost a loved one? What are the needs right in your community? What are the needs of the people on your street? Making a difference begins right where we live. "If you scratch the surface a little bit, you'll find something you can do."
Hall's enthusiasm is infectious. He is compelling as he writes about his personal 22-day fast that raised consciousness about hunger. "...If you let him, God will use you. No matter how small the work or large the work, if you want to be used, you will be. That's how God works. He works through people." And, as Hall quotes Mahatma Gandhi, "You must be the change you wish to see in the world." This book is a good place to start.
Reviewed by Cindy Crosby on April 18, 2006