CHICAGO, IL (April 8, 2011) – Evangelical Covenant Church members are being encouraged to participate in an ongoing national Hunger Fast, a movement of fasting, prayer and advocacy to protest proposed federal budget cuts in emergency food aid.
“The fast is in keeping with CMJ’s emphasis on Isaiah 58:6 – ‘This is the kind of fast day I’m after: to break the chains of injustice, get rid of exploitation in the workplace, free the oppressed, cancel debts,’ ” says Debbie Blue, executive minister of the denomination’s Department of Compassion, Mercy, and Justice (CMJ).
The fast, organized by Hungerfast.org, has been led by Tony Hall who went on a 22-day fast in 1993 while in the U.S. House of Representatives to protest budget cuts at the time. Hall began his recent fast March 28 and will continue it through April 24.
In addition to being a former congressman, Hall is the executive director of the Alliance to End Hunger. He served four years under President George W. Bush as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations agencies for food and agriculture.
“What we’re doing is humbling ourselves before God and saying, `I can’t do this anymore and I need your help and I’m not going to let go until you do something,’ ” Hall said recently.
People are encouraged to choose their own fasting routine and length, says Blue, who is fasting one meal a day accompanied by prayer. David Beckman, president of Bread for the World, a frequent partner with the Covenant, fasted for a week, drinking only water.
Beckmann has said he is especially concerned about a proposed 40 percent reduction in emergency food aid for disaster victims and refugees – from $1.7 billion last year to $1 billion – in the proposed U.S. House budget. The cuts also would impact Americans assisted by anti-hunger programs.
“If that would actually happen, we think it would mean cutting off something like 18 million people around the world who depend on food aid,” Beckman said. “These are some of the most desperate people in the world.”
Even if people decide not to fast, there are other ways they can help to “put a circle of protection” around food programs that benefit the poorest of society, Blue says. She encourages Covenanters to write their legislators.