From guest blogger Priscilla Eppinger

Kin-dom Solidarity with the Communities of El Tablón

In January, Alex Thornburg and Priscilla Eppinger represented Heartland Presbyterian Church on a delegation visit to our partner communities in El Salvador.  We quickly became aware of the serious drought conditions this country has endured during the past two growing seasons; from the airplane we could see dried-up riverbeds that should have had water flowing in them, and people everywhere remarked on how changes in climate have made the rains of the growing season less predictable.

All of the people in our partner communities are subsistence farmers, both women and men.  They grow their families’ food, and a dry growing season and failed harvest have foreseeable consequences.  As we visited people’s homes we asked, “How much food do you have?  How long do you think it will last?”  People showed us bags of dried beans and corn, and estimates of how long their household would have food to eat ranged from two months to seven, the time when the next crop should be ready to harvest.

How much food do you have in your pantry?  For how long do you expect your family to eat? 

Over the past fifteen years that Heartland Presbyterian has partnered with the people of El Tablón our emphasis has been on sustainable projects with a long-term impact on the community’s life.  We’ve especially supported education, helping construct a school, supporting teachers’ salaries, and giving small scholarships to young people who continue their education through high school.  We’ve also provided water filters and tanks for storing potable water, and have helped support the work of an agricultural co-op, a clinic, and a women’s sewing group.  But it’s clear that food is fundamental.  After all, malnourished people don’t have the energy to grow their own food and malnourished children don’t have the capacity to pay attention and learn in school.

How much food do you have in your pantry?  For how long do you expect your family to eat? 

It has long been the custom of Christians to fast during the season of Lent.

Fasting – abstaining from food for spiritual purposes – is a practice with roots deep in the biblical tradition; we read of fasting by such heroes of the faith as Daniel (of lion’s den fame), Queen Esther, Moses, Elijah, the apostle Paul, and Jesus himself.

As a sign of solidarity with our friends in El Tablón, we invite you to fast during Lent, choosing one night of the week that your family will not eat their normal evening meal.  (If you have children at home or members of the household in fragile health, you might consider a partial fast, serving a light supper of soup and crackers.)

You may be wondering how not eating will make a difference to people in El Salvador.  Good question – and the antithesis of the question many of us asked as children, when directed to clean our plates because children were starving in Africa.  Participation in God’s reign includes sharing with those who are in need.  If each of our households set aside what we would spend on a typical weeknight supper and shared that money with our Salvadoran sisters and brothers, we could help them survive last year’s drought.

So we invite you to life in the kin-dom of God.  We invite you to a solidarity fast during Lent.  We invite you to forego some of your food so that our friends in El Salvador might have enough to eat until next August’s harvest.