Eating Like a Refugee
By Andy Albertini
Imagine being forced at gunpoint to leave your home in the next 24 hours with literally only the clothes on your back. You can take no money, no bags, and not even your child’s favorite stuffed animal. You walk hundreds of miles with your family, cross a couple of borders, hoping for a life — not even a better life, just a life — for yourself and your children. Instead, you face slow starvation.
That is exactly what is happening to refugees GAiN® serves in Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia. According to the U.K. Guardian newspaper,
“Refugees hit by ration reductions were desperately looking for ways to put food on the table, with the crisis pushing increasing numbers of children to quit school to seek work and prompting families to marry off their girls at a younger age. ‘Survival sex’ prostitution by women and girls trying to raise money for food was also a growing concern …”
The desperate choices facing these innocents arise from the massive increase of refugees and the growing global economic slowdown. There simply isn’t enough money available to feed all the world’s refugees properly. There are now more than 65 million refugees and displaced people in the world. As a result, U.N. has been forced to cut rations to the refugees it serves by almost 60 percent, leaving a paltry 120 grams of rice and 120 grams of lentils, or about 850 calories per day, as their daily diet — an amount of food you can easily hold in your hands.
I was brokenhearted and wept for these women and children as I heard their stories. In response, the Lord laid a Scripture and a request on my heart. The Scripture, Joel 2:12 and 13,
“Turn to me now, while there is time. Give me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Don’t tear your clothing in your grief, but tear your hearts instead” (New Living Translation).
The request: spend 40 days and nights praying and fasting for my children, for the leaders of these nations, and for revival.
That is how 2017 began. I have in the past fasted and prayed for the first 40 days of a new year to seek God’s continued transformation in my personal spiritual life and that of my community. Bill Bright inspired this practice in me several years ago. Bill believed that seeking God’s face in this way can and will change the course of nations. This year I modified my fast just a bit.
- I ate only 120 grams of rice and lentils daily for 40 days, not to empathize with the refugees, but to be reminded of their bravery and commitment to life.
- And I prayed and read God’s word during meal times instead of eating.
Our prayers must be for God to heal lands and touch hearts! Our prayers must be that no man, woman, or child will be forced because of their desperation to commit unspeakable acts to provide for themselves or their children.
Four easy ways you and your family can do the same:
- Learn more about fasting and spiritual growth by reading “Your Personal Guide to Fasting and Prayer” by Bill Bright.
- For the next 40 days replace one dinner per week with a dinner of rice and lentils or rice and beans.
- Pray as a family for refugees.
- Consider donating to GAiN $6.00 per person in your family for every meal you replace to help us express the love of Christ in the toughest places on earth.
Published March 27, 2017
About the Author
Andy Albertini is Vice President of Church Relations with Global Aid Network. He has been a GAiN staff member since April 2016.