"Terry," a co-worker said to me this morning, "I just heard a commercial on the radio saying that one in eight Americans deal with malnutrition each year. Do you really believe that could be true?"
I surprised her with my answer: "Yes."
Hungry people in America seem to be invisible, but they exist in large numbers (especially among children of the poor). After eight and a half years involved in an urban ministry (www.contactchurch.net), I know that hungry people exist. I have seen the invisible people.
I have seen the face of the child in my wife's Sunday school class who told her, "I'm sad...We ran out of food."
I have seen the recently released convict who lived in cheap motels, working as a day laborer, and asking for a little help with groceries.
I have seen children who have been taken into state custody because their parents were too high on drugs and alcohol to provide for them.
I have seen a child with Down syndrome born to a prostitute with a half dozen other children whom she was struggling to feed.
I have seen an elderly man with emphysema living alone on social security and needing groceries.
I have seen a middle-aged mentally disabled man trying to making it alone in this world.
Yes, I can believe that a large number of Americans struggle with malnutrition each year. And I have seen a church making a difference in their lives by expressing its faith in Christ through loving its invisible neighbors.
"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'
"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me'" (Matthew 25:37-40).