************ Children's Sermon on Isaiah 58:6-7 ************

By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman

This sermon was preached on November 11, 2001

Based on Isaiah 58:6-7

Big clay jar.

I have a clay jar here (HOLD IT UP).

Four weeks ago I told you about the story of Elisha. He told a widow woman to fill clay jars (HOLD UP MY JAR) with something. Do you remember what she filled the jars with? GET RESPONSE FROM CHILDREN.

Yes, with a little bit of oil she filled hundreds of jars with oil.

That one little jar became a jar of blessing.

Today, you brought your jars of blessing and your Peter Fish to the front to also be jars of blessings for hungry people around the world.

I want to tell you stories about two people that we are able to help.

A story of hunger in Bangladesh

Malekha Khatun's story reflects the situation of many women in developing countries. Born in the village of Dhemsha in Bangladesh, she lost her father, the family's wage-earner, when she was very young. Malekha, her younger brother and mother slept outside since they had no house. In this wet climate, they got soaked when it rained unless someone else offered shelter. Her childhood was spent helping her mother work to earn money, attending a few years of school and witnessing the death of her nine-year-old brother from fever.

At 14, Malekha was married off to a man from another village for a small dowry equaling about nine U.S. dollars. She became pregnant right away and lived with her husband's family, while he left to work as a menial laborer so he could send money back to her and the baby. Upon his return, she became pregnant again. When Malekha's husband left a second time, she received no money or word from him. Left on her own with two small children and no means of income, her youngest child died of malnutrition and diarrhea.

Malekha worked at a variety of jobs in order to support herself, becoming skilled at knitting and making nets. She moved out of the home of her husband's family to live with her mother. Hard work and resourcefulness enabled her to run a small grocery store, but competition caused her business to suffer and she sometimes had to fall back on begging.

Malekha's constant hard work and industriousness could not overcome the poverty and hunger that shadow a woman alone at the bottom rung of an already poor nation. For all her struggling, Malekha ended up with no food to feed herself, no umbrella to protect her from the rain and only one sari to her name (Leckman, Scott A. "Grameen Bank Borrowers." Pearls of Bangladesh. RESULTS Educational Fund, 1993).

A story of hunger in Honduras

Ricardo Cabrera lives with his wife and seven children in a small hut in Marcala, Honduras. Cabrera sums up his life: "Yes, I am a poor man. Bastante, bastante, bastante (a lot, a lot, a lot)." To provide a meager living for his family, he works hard in the fields, along with his children. Half the year he works for the large landowners and half the year he works on his own farm growing food for his family and coffee to sell.

Ricardo says, "at the time I was born, people in the mountains were dying of hunger. I had three brothers and a sister; two brothers died of fever. My parents worked from six in the morning to six in the evening. It's the rich who don't work."

When he was 21 and newly married, Ricardo was drafted into the army. After taxes, food money, clothes and medicine were subtracted from his pay, he had only 25 cents a month to send home to his new wife. He has worked hard to get to where he is today, though he is still, as he says, a poor man.

"Make no mistake," Ricardo says. My people and I don't want any sweet music. We want our children to be educated, we want to know how to farm better. We don't want to be cheated" (Richards, Eugene. "The Forgotten Ones." Choices, The Human Development Magazine. April 1998)

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