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Faith in action: Global Church Sponsorship


Despite growing up as the son of two pastors and attending an ELCA college, Andrew Steele, director for ELCA Global Church Sponsorship (elca.org/globalchurch), didn’t feel a strong connection to church as a young adult—until he spent a year in South Africa through the ELCA’s Young Adults in Global Mission (YAGM) program. “There, church was an integral part of life. ... I learned so much about spirituality and public church,” he said. Global Church Sponsorship supports long-term


Faith in action: World Hunger


Cumming describes his work with ELCA World Hunger (elca.org/hunger) as grounded in the love of neighbor. “Hunger is a system of broken relationships,” he said. “We know there is enough to feed people, but some are excluded and don’t have access to create and purchase food.” When we “seek out the image of God in our neighbors [and] see one another as revelations of God among us,” he said, we realize that “need doesn’t just exist ‘over there,’ in that other person, but in relationships with others.” World Hunger funds an average of 250 grants


each year to 60 countries through companion synods and partners. International grants support projects like eco-friendly farming, responses to malaria and HIV and AIDS, support for those affected by domestic violence or incarceration, and advocacy for human rights, including gender equity. Cumming also views this work as rooted in a


Lutheran understanding of vocation. “God has graced each person with gifts to share in the community, but if we can’t [due to need], the community suffers, and we suffer.” Like Luther’s Common Chest, World Hunger


supports partners in “helping people find ways to use their own talents and skills to provide for themselves and participate in the community,” Cumming said.


missionaries; the YAGM program; ministry projects by global partners, such as new church buildings and training workshops; and an international women leaders’ initiative that provides scholarships to women for ELCA seminaries and undergraduate programs. The ELCA’s accompaniment model for global


mission took getting used to, Steele admitted: “At first, you want to build and do things; then your job is to sit there and watch the water boil, and you think, ‘What am I doing here?’ ” Steele’s epiphany came after he joined local


farmers in planting a field of corn. After a long day’s labor, Steele was proud of his efforts—until he learned that guinea fowl had eaten all the corn and the planting would have to be done again. Sharing the experience with his South African neighbors, Steele realized he “wasn’t there to plant the corn. We were there to be humans together ... to live in community.”


18 OCTOBER 2017


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