YOU give them something to eat

I recently finished a book aimed at church ministry that I think will help anyone in the helping professions, including librarianship. It may be good reading for the inspiring quotes alone.

The book is called “You give them something to eat: Ministering when you think you can't� by Joe Paprocki, ISBN: 0-87793-655-2, Ave Maria Press.

The author holds up Jesus' feeding of 5000 men and others in Mark 6 as a role model for people to follow in taking up ministry projects even when they can't see how it can be done. Think of it as the ultimate in doing more with less -- “Feed 5000 people with five loaves of bread and two fish!�

The book is divided into these six chapters:
1. Send them away!: The reluctant minister.
2. YOU give them something to eat!: Assuming Responsibility.
3. How many loaves do you have?: Assessing your resources.
4. The people were neatly arranged: Organizing for ministry.
5. They all ate: Satisfying hungers.
6. They gathered up leftovers: Closure in an ongoing ministry.

Every chapter includes some questions for reflection, some “scripture for prayer� and an “In their own words section� where people share how they've persevered in the face of short resources or other seemingly daunting obstacles.

One of my favorite quotes from this book is:

“Prayer in action is love and love in action is service. Try to give unconditionally whatever a person needs in the moment. The point is do something however small and show you care through your actions by giving your time. We are all God's children, so it is important to share His gifts. Do not worry about why problems exist in the world, just respond to people's needs. God has been so good to us. What we are doing is just a drop in the ocean, but that ocean would be less without that drop.� -- Mother Teresa, A Simple Path.

Much of this book consists of focusing on what you do have to offer than using your lack to avoid providing service. This is what I think could be useful to people of all faiths. However, it is true that Christians will benefit the most from this book, because another point it makes strongly is that we must ultimately depend on the strength of Christ. We have gifts that we offer to God, but it is God who ultimately does the feeding.


"anyone in the helping professions, including librarianship"

Hadn't heard librarians described that way before. But I suppose "helping profession" would include just about anyone, teachers, muffler repairmen, plumbers, architects, secretaries, etc.

One of the most useful things I learned when I worked in the agriculture field was that there was no shortage of food (calories) anywhere in the world, only bad political systems, infrastructure and graft and greed. Distribution systems were one of the biggest problems in 3rd world countries. Donated food rotted in ports and warehouses while children went hungry inland. Seed for next year's crops was eaten. Children in this country whose parents are married to each other and finished high school rarely ever go hungry, so addressing hunger here is a much larger societal problem than putting food on the table.

To me, "helping profession" might more accurately describe those who provide to people in need of a good or service without directly passing on the cost to the recipient. "Help" as differentiated from "commerce".

More and more frequently, particularly in the needier parts of the world,> for next year's crops may be illegal to save.

For generations, Iraq's indigenous farmers have saved seeds from a previous year's harvest to plant the next year. To facilitate new crops, they have also informally swapped seeds with one another. A new amendment to Iraq's patent law, enacted by former Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) administrator L. Paul Bremer III, provides for the "protection of new varieties of plants."

To qualify for protection under the law, and thus to be legal for agricultural use, plant varieties must be new, distinct, uniform, and stable. The seed supply that Iraqi farmers have used for years cannot meet these criteria. So U.S. corporations, who have the means to modify and "stabilize" the seed varieties, now dominate the market and can sell to farmers without domestic competition.

The intellectual property rights that the patent law grants last for 20 years for crop varieties and 25 years for trees and vines. So, while the U.S. military occupation may be over within in the next two decades, the corporate occupation could last for generations.

"Children in this country whose parents are married to each other and finished high school rarely ever go hungry"

Children who grow up hungry seldom finish high school and don't present much prospect for marriage.