Feeding the Five Billion

By: jdcharles63
Date: 16/02/2020
Here we celebrate the miracle of Jesus on the cross, where he won our forgiveness, and saved us from sin and death.
How do we respond to this?
And when people go about their activity in this world, does it matter what they believe?  Let’s look at one example.

It’s easy to forget that when I, and people of my vintage, were born, 60% of the world’s population lived in extreme poverty. Each day they were likely to not have enough food to eat.
Starvation was expected to become worse as the world population grew, and there were many expert doomsayers, like Paul Ehrlich, who predicted a world catastrophe.

We can see the response by people of different beliefs to suffering like that.
Some say it is part of the never-ending cycle of life that must not be disturbed, some that it is the judgement of the almighty on non-believers, while for Animists the land and trees are sacred and more important than hungry people.

But as Christians, we remember the words of Jesus in Matthew 25:35, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat”, and there was a young Christian man in the US, who during the Great Depression, saw many starving people, and he later saw starvation as a permanent feature in other countries.
His response was to do all he could with the gifts God had given.

In the mid 20th century, despite opposition from many people of those other beliefs, he developed a strategy using technologies like synthetic fertilizers and scientific plant breeding to hugely increase the world’s food output. (This had nothing to do with GM crops, it was 40 years before that).

His initial work in Mexico increased wheat production there six-fold, and by 1963 it became an exporter of wheat.
He worked in India and Pakistan even while they were at war in the late 1960’s, and since the mid-1970’s they have been self-sufficient in cereals.
He then worked in many other countries in Latin America, the Middle East and Asia, to substantially increase food production, and a high yield variety of rice is now used in China and much of Asia.

His work in Africa had only limited success, as those opposition groups succeeded in stopping his work there.

His name was Norman Borlaug, and his work became known as the Green Revolution of the mid-20th century.
He received many awards, including the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970, and he is recognized as directly saving more than 1 billion people from death by starvation.
And once people in those countries had enough to eat, they were able to become productive and enterprising in other areas, and their living standards were transformed to what we see today.

Today, even with the large increase in the world’s population as predicted by the doomsayers, what they said was impossible has happened.  That figure of 60% living in extreme poverty is now down to 10%.  And much of the world’s forests, which would have been turned into farmland, have been preserved.

We have all lived through this amazing miracle of the feeding of the five billion, but I haven’t seen it celebrated in the newspapers.
And although Norman Borlaug has been given recognition, we need to give the glory to God, as it is another miracle by Jesus, and it flows from all that we celebrate here. For as we live by faith in Jesus, and his victory on the cross, his Spirit lives within us (John 14:16-17), and His overflowing love changes our response to the people and circumstances around us.


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