In the 1960’s a Japanese anthropologist and his wife and young children came to stay in the Upper Perkiomen Valley for ten months. The reason for his visit was to add to his world-wide studies of different cultures with special attention given to the social and civic clubs and groups organized for particular ages and for specific purposes.
What he found was that an organization and its activities thrive for about three generations and then it is difficult to recruit new members, who will maintain the group’s purpose, and so new organizations and new causes emerge, dismissing the older ones to by-gone memories.
His findings continue to be confirmed, with KYW radio’s weekend announcements of road closures…for a walk or a run. The list of causes is getting longer and longer and some weekends are a smorgasbord of choices, with new ones for new occasions.
There is one walk that is the oldest ongoing event that is taking place in our Collegeville-Trappe area today: CROP Walk Sunday. CROP – with the letters standing for: Christian Rural Overseas
Program that began in 1947 as a number of our nation’s denominations, working together as Church World Service, appealed to Midwest farm families to share their grain with war-ravaged European and Asian countries.
Now, as the appeal is extended to include whole communities of inter-faith groups, schools, and businesses, the letters – CROP have changed to read: Communities Responding to Overcome Poverty, and the Walk has taken on two purposes: One, as a hunger education program, and two, as a fundraising event for those in need of food, clothing, shelter, nutritional education, and agricultural skills, and the recipients are everywhere, here in the United States and around the world.
To accommodate the wide range of religious and non-religious fundraising organizations, each walker may designate where the money is channeled, such as: Church World Service (CWS), Catholic Charities, United Jewish Appeal, Lutheran World Relief, Salvation Army – to name only a few, and 25% of the money is to be give to a local feeding program.
For our Collegeville- Trappe Walk it is Grace Bean’s Soup Kitchen.
Nationally the yearly average is 1,300 walks with 116, 000 participants raising over 12 million dollars,
and each person’s awareness and experience of the purpose of a CROP Walk.
The first being: HUNGER EDUCATION.
Publicity in print and online cites that hunger is world-wide; it’s here as well as overseas, and, as one poster reads: “The world’s hunger is getting ridiculous There is more fruit in a rich man’s shampoo
than is on a poor man’s plate.” And, the even more troubling fact is there is enough food to feed the world; it’s just not being distributed by the “haves” to the “have nots” whose daily life is a copy of the plight of Job. (Job 23: 8,9)
It is the inequality which prompted Mahatma Gandhi to give the solution: “The rich must live more simply so the Poor may simply live.”
Hunger education is meant to be taught through steps taken in a CROP Walk to the pace of the words, “We walk because they walk;” the “they” being women and children from villages in Africa and Asia who walk miles every day to draw a meager bucket of water for drinking, washing, garden and cattle.
$60. from the world’s “haves” will drill a nearby well.
Today’s Gospel couldn’t be timelier with its cartoon-like word picture of a rich man’s camel loaded with all his possessions, trying to fit though the door in the much larger- gate, (For us it is the small door in the larger barn door.) only to get stuck;
a sight for the caption: “How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!”
An old story tells about the devil on the prowl to bring down Christians. He shot a fiery dart at the chest but it was deflected by the breastplate of righteousness. Next the devil fired at the head, but the Christian was wearing the helmet of salvation; then the Achilles heel. It, too, was protected by being shod with the gospel of peace.
As the Christian turned to walk away victorious, the devil took one last shot into the Christian’s wallet and killed him. (Adapted from Beth Quick, Mission: Impossible)
We walk to step into the prints of the poor; we walk to learn the lesson of hunger education and in walking
become aware of the affect of the Walk on our lifestyles and our wallets or charge cards.
Maurice Bloem, who works with Church World Service in Southern California, and served for more than 20 years in Bangladesh and Indonesia, learned firsthand that hunger affects one billion children, and, in the first 1,000 days malnutrition and starvation causes problems from which they can never recover.
In 2012 Maurice decided to go on a 100-mile walk in California to both teach about hunger and raise awareness of what each person can do.
He stopped at a church’s community food pantry and talked with the director; then on to an out-of-work father and full-time college student working at two jobs. Both told of the monthly allotment of food being their means of survival and of hope.
Along the road he met a hiker who listened to him talk about hunger and what can be done about it. Knowing that CWS works in more than 40 countries and that together we can do what cannot be accomplished alone, the man promised if he’d keep the miles to 100, he’d join him next year…and did.
He met a teenager who recruits walkers via email and enlisted a local university campus, whole community and congregation to walk, and raised $40,000.
Maurice Bloem’s call is to for each person to learn to eat a nutritional diet, and to share food with the needy.
If we do, he announces, “We can end hunger in our lifetime.” And those who join him in the walk shout, “End hunger!”
“Walk!” the free exercise program prescribed as Cardiac therapy, weight loss, lowering a diabetic’s blood sugar, building up muscles to support arthritic joints, and helping the breathing of asthmatics.
“Walk, it’s good for your health.”
And when it’s the CROP Walk, it’s good for our souls as well; it awakens us to the awareness that God’s good earth can feed the world.
So we raise money as walkers or sideline contributors. AMEN.