August 13, 2005: Headlines: Figures: COS - Thailand: Diplomacy: Hunger: The Ledger: Faith Fuels Tony Hall's Lifelong Quest to End Hunger

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Faith Fuels Tony Hall's Lifelong Quest to End Hunger

Faith Fuels Tony Hall's Lifelong Quest to End Hunger

For more than 20 years, first as a member of Congress and now as a U.S. ambassador to United Nations humanitarian agencies in Rome, Tony Hall has made it his life mission to end hunger and poverty -- at home and abroad. Former Congressman Tony Hall of Ohio, now ambassador to the United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture, served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Thailand in the 1960's.

Faith Fuels Tony Hall's Lifelong Quest to End Hunger

Faith Fuels Lifelong Quest to End Hunger
Tony Hall's passion to fight hunger has earned three Nobel nominations.

Religion & Ethics Newsweekly

ROME -- For more than 20 years, first as a member of Congress and now as a U.S. ambassador to United Nations humanitarian agencies in Rome, Tony Hall has made it his life mission to end hunger and poverty -- at home and abroad.

It's a mission fueled by his Christian faith.

"I don't know how people sustain this or do this, day after day, week after week, month after month, without faith," he said recently on the PBS show "Religion & Ethics Newsweekly."

"I know some people do, but I could never do it," he adds. "It's what keeps me strong; it keeps me going."

Hall, a Democrat, was appointed by President Bush in 2002 to be the U.S. envoy to the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization and other U.N. Rome-based agencies that deal with food and hunger. Over the years, his passion to fight hunger has earned him three Nobel Prize nominations.

In his current position, Africa -- where some of the world's worst and most persistent cases of poverty and hunger exist -has become a special concern.

"Of the 35 most difficult nations of the world, 25 are in Africa," he said.

Some anti-hunger activists have criticized the G8 -- the heads of government of the eight industrialized nations -- and especially the United States for being "stingy" in their aid effort.

It's a criticism that doesn't sit well with Hall, who argues that the United States contributes more than 50 percent of all the humanitarian aid that goes through the U.N.

"I believe that good nations, great nations, are evaluated by what they do for other people, especially poor people.

"We (the United States) have a lot," he says. "And we should give a lot."

Hall traces his passion for the hunger issue to when he was a member of Congress from Ohio and made a 1984 trip to Ethiopia to investigate the famine there. He was stunned by what he saw.

"Most children were dying," he recalled in a recent speech at Georgetown University in Washington. "Many were dead. And in a period of a few minutes, I saw 25 children die."

As a result, he said, he felt God calling him to focus his political work on humanitarian issues.

"You can take anybody of faith, any religion, and you will see the tremendous number of Scripture verses dealing with the issue," he said in his Georgetown speech. "I like the one in Proverbs where it says that God says if you help the poor you lend to me."

In an interview, Hall said he tries to be careful not to flaunt his faith.

"I don't want to be a hypocrite," he said. "I don't want to wear God here (pointing to his lapel) and say, `look at me. I love God and I'm doing this and I'm doing that.'

"By working with the poor, you're kind of showing a sermon. You're not giving a sermon."

Hall's work with suffering children has a deeply personal dimension as he lost his 15-year-old son to leukemia eight years ago. He described that experience earlier this year at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington.

"One day he had an especially bad day, and he had a lot of complications," Hall said of his son. "I got so mad that night that I screamed and cussed and swore, yelled, asked God to come down, confront me, talk to me, (answer the question) why?"

He said God answered that prayer by showing him the mystery of faith that survives tragedy -- and it is that faith that keeps him going beyond the tragedies.

"I don't understand why my son is gone. I don't understand the tsunamis. I don't understand 25,000 people dying every day," said Hall, referring to the U.N. estimate of the number of lives taken daily by hunger.

"But you know? That experience with my son has made my faith stronger. I came through that experience with more love for God. I cannot explain it. It's the truth, though."

Hall is fond of telling a story about Mother Teresa, the Roman Catholic nun who is a hero to this evangelical Presbyterian.

"People asked Mother Teresa once, `don't you think what you do is kind of a drop in the bucket'? I get asked that question often, too.

"And she said, `No, it's a drop in the ocean. But,' she said, `if I didn't do it, it'd be one less drop.'

"I kind of feel that way, too."

When this story was posted in August 2005, this was on the front page of PCOL:

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Story Source: The Ledger

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; Figures; COS - Thailand; Diplomacy; Hunger


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