We’re visiting with my parents for a few days while en route to the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship meeting in Memphis June 18-20. That means, among other things, that we’re gorging ourselves on fresh vegetables from the garden – my father figures that being 80 years old is no excuse for avoiding hard work, especially if there is fresh corn at the end of it.

The corn hasn’t come in yet, especially since his first crop was mostly washed out and he had to replant, but it looks promising. The broccoli and cabbage have already come and gone. Yellow squash and zucchini are abundant, and the green beans are just starting to come in – we had some of those with newly dug red potatoes. The bell and banana peppers are flourishing; the okra and eggplant are on their way. The peas (our favorite) and butterbeans won’t produce for weeks yet, but with homegrown tomatoes getting ripe, I’ve hardly noticed.

The abundance of food we’re enjoying reminds me that others had a far less enjoyable Father’s Day meal. In the U.S. Midwest, thousands of people (and thousands of acres of cropland) are dealing with record flooding or brutal tornadoes. Mealtime doesn’t come automatically when the refrigerator is floating downstream or sitting out in the field.

That’s why relief units from various Baptist Men’s organizations have been following close behind the clouds, offering the straightforward love of Christ and a positive witness untainted by politics or power struggles.

Volunteer units from several states are mentioned in this article. I’m most familiar with the folks who from North Carolina, who have been feeding and caring for firefighters in eastern North Carolina for more than a week, and whose massive “Manna One” feeding unit was sent to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where volunteers can prepare and serve up to 40,000 meals per day.

Then, lest we forget, millions of people on the other side of the world still suffer in the aftermath of the earthquakes, typhoons, and tyranny. China appears to be offering or allowing adequate aid to its many earthquake victims, but officials in Burma/Myanmar remain very resistant to outside aid workers, and have been forcing refugees to return to their devastated villages without adequate food or shelter.

In Zimbabwe, illegitimate president Robert Mugabe’s thugs continue to exploit the famine for which he is personally responsible, manipulating foreign aid to curry favor with supporters, leaving thousands to starve, and continuing to arrest those likely to vote against him in an upcoming runoff election.

Squash and tomatoes that are freely harvested and peacefully eaten may seem simple fare, but they symbolize incredible blessings.

I’m pausing, during a few days of vacation with the home folks, to be thankful — and to remember those who find themselves crying for relief.

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