One the most formative Bible verses for Milt Stoppkotte of Chapman, Nebraska has been “Honor the Lord with your substance and with the first fruits of all your produce.”
Anchored by this scriptural admonition, Stoppkotte has been donating his harvests proceeds to combat hunger for more than twenty years. Last fall, he gave nearly 6,000 bushels of soybeans to the ELCA Foundation so that the proceeds could help ELCA World Hunger (a nonprofit organization affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America that combats global food insecurity).
At an early age, Stoppkotte committed to giving away all his excess crops and income that his family didn’t need to help others. Initially, it was not a lot when he and his wife first got married. The couple lived off her teacher’s salary of $200 a month. However, over time the couple’s farm became extremely profitable.
Stoppkotte said, “We have been financially blessed.”
Stoppkotte started farming in his 20s after completing a four year military enlistment. After he was discharged, he returned home and began worshiping at Messiah Lutheran Church in Grand Island, Nebraska up the street from his father’s farm.
Stoppkotte says, “I know that a lot of people in this world are starving. Giving them food is great to help them out right now, but it isn’t going to help them out in the long term.”
By giving to ELCA World Hunger, proceeds go to not just meeting immediate needs but also working to empower communities to create sustainable food ecosystems.
When asked for comment, Daniel Rift, director of ELCA World Hunger and Lutheran Disaster Response funding said, “We started as an agricultural church, and a lot of our hunger work started out as farmers caring about feeding other people in the world.”
In the past, many Lutheran farmers sent food directly to hungry people. However, in today’s complex global economy that is not always possible. Therefore, to assist farmers who are interested in donating their harvest, the ELCA Foundation works with vendors that sell the crops with the proceeds going to support the Foundation. The Foundation then uses the proceeds from the sales to purchase food around the globe or support other ministries within the church such as disaster relief, missions, and educational institutions.
Stoppkotte hopes that other farmers will be encouraged by his actions and similarly donate their excess crops to combat hunger.
Source: Living Lutheran