Jubilee Begins With Me

Pat Pelham lives in Birmingham, Alabama. About four years ago, she felt called to help people in need. Her pastor at Independent Presbyterian Church suggested she get their church involved in Bread for the World.

Pat and her friend Elaine Van Cleave came to hear me talk about Bread for the World at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church. After that event, Pat and Elaine started to organize. They got their church's hunger committee involved in Bread for the World.

Three years ago, they invited their member of Congress, Rep. Spencer Bachus, to a Bread for the World dinner at Independent Presbyterian. I sat on his left, and the Presbyterian Hunger Action Enabler for Birmingham - a Republican Party activist - sat on his right. We urged Bachus to cosponsor the anti-hunger legislation that Bread for the World was pushing that year. Rep. Bachus had never before sponsored such legislation. But he called Pat the next evening and said, "I doubt that this will win me many votes, but I don't want to be responsible for even one child going hungry."

At the beginning of 1999, the Jubilee 2000 network was getting organized. Rep. Bachus had become chair of the international committee of the House Banking Committee, where any congressional action on debt relief would have to start. Pat, Elaine, and two friends from Independent Presbyterian flew up to Washington, D.C., at their own expense to bring Bachus a debt relief petition with 400 signatures.

"I don't know much about economics or international finance," Elaine explained. "But I do know that about 30,000 children die every day from hunger and other preventable causes, and, as a mother, that really bothers me....it would help a lot if you would sponsor this Jubilee legislation."

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Sojourners Magazine July-August 2000
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