PHOENIX (BP)- Lindsay McDonald had two good reasons for rising early last Wednesday for a 6:30 a.m. race of more than three miles: She really enjoys running, and she really believes in the ministry of Global Hunger Relief.
McDonald, a member of Casey (Ill.) First Baptist Church, was among 189 registrants for the first Global Hunger Relief Run on the second day of the Southern Baptist Convention in Phoenix. By registering, McDonald and the other entrants contributed nearly $4,000 toward feeding the hungry in the United States and throughout the world.
Global Hunger Relief (GHR) is a partnership of seven Southern Baptist entities that collaborate to address hunger needs in the world. The Cooperative Program's support of SBC entities enables 100 percent of the gifts received by GHR -- whether through churches or the run's registration fees -- to be used in hunger projects implemented by Southern Baptist missionaries and partners.
She began enjoying running a couple of years ago and tries to run one or two 5K races in the summer or fall, McDonald said before Wednesday's race. When she learned about the GHR run, McDonald said she thought, "This is a great way to get up and spend the morning."
McDonald has seen the faces of hunger overseas. She was among Southern Baptist women from her state who went to Bangladesh about 18 months ago on a trip through the Illinois Baptist State Association. In that Asian country, McDonald and the others worked with missionaries from the International Mission Board (IMB).
"[H]unger is a real need" in Bangladesh, she said. Meeting someone's physical need is "a bridge to the Gospel to share Christ," said McDonald, whose husband, Jon, is pastor of the church in Casey. Hunger "is a real need in our communities and in the world," she said.
"Global Hunger Relief is one of the hidden secrets of the Southern Baptist Convention." -- David Platt
Overseas last year, GHR resources helped more than 600,000 people and touched more than 2,300 communities, according to the 2016 report. In North America, GHR helped provide 8.6 million meals, with more than 20,000 professions of faith in Christ counted.
IMB President David Platt, who participated in Wednesday's 5K, said after the race, "Global Hunger Relief is one of the hidden secrets of the Southern Baptist Convention. The way this fund fuels poverty relief around the world through existing ministry that's focused on proclaiming the Gospel and planting churches is an incredible opportunity for Southern Baptists to meet urgent physical needs while addressing urgent spiritual needs."
Platt expressed his gratitude "for these brothers and sisters coming out, running, giving of their time at the SBC to say, 'Poverty matters to us, and we want to make the glory of Christ known in a world of urgent spiritual and physical needs.'"
Eighty percent of GHR funds are used overseas through the work of IMB and Baptist Global Response (BGR). The North American Mission Board (NAMB) distributes the other 20 percent of the money with the supervisory help of the Baptist state conventions.
The GHR partners -- BGR, IMB, NAMB, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), SBC Executive Committee, LifeWay Christian Resources and Woman's Missionary Union (WMU) -- seek to keep Southern Baptists aware of the international hunger situation and to alleviate hunger through feeding programs.
The Cooperative Program, the SBC's unified giving plan, eliminates any need for hunger funds to be used for administrative, fundraising or promotional costs. In addition, food distribution channels already exist through IMB and NAMB.
Easily leading all runners across the finish line in Wednesday's 5K was Jonathan McNair, 17, a member of First Baptist Church of West Valley City, Utah, which is a suburb of Salt Lake City. McNair, who runs for the West Cross High School track team, finished in 15 minutes, 51.7 seconds.
The top female finisher was Sara Nazemi, a Phoenix-area runner, in 19:09. The top Southern Baptist finisher among females was Erin Rainer at 19:56.7. Rainer is a member of West Bradenton Baptist Church in Bradenton, Fla.
Sponsors of Wednesday's GHR event were the Arizona Southern Baptist Convention, BGR, ERLC, GuideStone Financial Resources, IMB, LifeWay, NAMB, the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention and the WMU.
The 5K and a one-mile fun run were held at Steele Indian School Park in Phoenix.
Many churches give attention to the work of GHR, formerly known as the World Hunger Fund, on Global Hunger Sunday in October each year. More information about GHR is available at globalhungerrelief.com.