Wednesday, May 16, 2007

RAMEN FOR THE WORLD by Allison Hancock, Relevant Magazine

At the present moment, there are enough ramen noodles sitting in my living room to feed 200 people. My friends and I bought it with the intention of giving it to the poor. This seemingly ridiculous idea was birthed during a late night conversation after watching too much VH1. A lady on TV had bought a 25 million dollar house. Enraged by the extravagance, we got out our cell phones and began calculating how many people could receive clean water with the money it took her to buy a house for herself and her husband. We were astonished at the numbers. Our astonishment led to my roommate asking, “Do you know how much ramen you could buy with that much money?” (And yes, we are college students). We brought out the cell phone calculators once again. The number was insane.

At first, we saw the humor in our situation, but my roommate quickly pointed out that she had always thought if she were rich, she would buy ramen for hungry people. Her justification was, “It may not be the most nutritious food, but I lived off of it freshmen year, and it’s better than being hungry.” Perhaps we had been watching TV for too long, but we thought she had a good point.So the next day we set out for a warehouse grocery store. At 10 cents a pack, we purchased four huge cases of the staple of college existence. We stacked it up in our living room … and there it sits waiting to be mailed. We talked to a friend in Tanzania who loved our somewhat humorous idea of feeding the world with ramen. He asked us if we would mail it to him and let him use it as a ministry—he would give it to the hungry and befriend them, telling them about Jesus and just letting them know that someone cares.

While working out the logistics of mailing 200 packs of ramen to Africa, the tower of noodles in our living room has become a daily reminder of our own privileges here in the West. As ridiculous as it may sound, that ramen has changed a lot of my actions. My friends and I have started equating every purchase we make to how much ramen we could buy. As I sit here writing this, I am wearing a new shirt with the tags still on it because all I can think about is that my one shirt could provide 200 meals. Now, I know that ramen may not be the most logical choice for ending world hunger, but it does make you think. Putting numbers on someone else’s pain and suffering really begins to hit you hard. It makes all of our unnecessary “stuff” seem just that: unnecessary. If $1 can provide clean water to a person if Africa for one year, doesn’t that make you wonder where every dollar you spend goes? Living in a culture that says you always need more degrades your mind and spirit. God calls us to love Him through service to others, and every action we make can make a difference.

Maybe I am a hopeless and ignorant optimist (or maybe living amongst packages of ramen has gotten to me), but I really believe that with each action, each word we speak and each thought we think, we can either worship God and bring Him glory, or we can fail at that quest miserably. It may not seem that dire and urgent of a situation, but Satan is charming and deceptive. He works on us slowly and it is hard to break free of his trap. Maybe we are not called to hastily purchase enough ramen to feed Africa (though cheap, it is not all that healthy after all. Just ask everyone who gained the freshman 15). But we are called to be careful with the blessings that God has given us. We live in a culture that is thoroughly blessed with wealth yet thoroughly deceived by it as well. We have to constantly remind ourselves of its dangers, and that may take something as simple as remembering the price of ramen.

No comments: