Tia Upchurch-Freelove, ELCA Advocacy Office

May 14, 2014

​Last week, faith leaders from across the country traveled to Washington, D.C., to speak out in support of f​​unding for life-saving humanitarian and poverty-focused development assistance (PFDA) programs.

Two ELCA pastors, the Rev. Amy Truhe and the Rev. John Backus, joined these leaders on Capitol Hill to share their commitment to promoting the dignity of all people, including the world’s most vulnerable. The Rev. Amy Truhe serves as pastor for Scherer Memorial Lutheran Church in Chapman, Kan. The Rev. John Backus visited from Trinity Lutheran Church in Omaha, Neb., where he co-pastors with his wife, the Rev. Liz Backus.

I met with Pastor Truhe and Pastor Backus before their day on Capitol Hill to ask why they felt compelled to advocate for policies that provide support to those living in poverty and suffering from hunger.

Pastor Amy Truhe_Pastor John Backus

Pastor John Backus: My son is from Thailand and is 29 years old. When I adopted him he was between 3 and 5 years old. When I got him he was dying of malnutrition. It was a year of having enough to eat every day and having all the things he could ask for as a child growing up in rural Minnesota before he stopped hiding food in his room … before I could get him to stop stealing from his playmates. … That changed him and he is still repairing the damage done. Every child on the face of the planet that goes to bed hungry is a threat to the safety and security of those who have enough to eat.

Pastor Amy Truhe: We are so immensely gifted that we don’t understand what we have. My sister [who was adopted from Korea] was left in a box because her mother didn’t have enough and couldn’t take care of her child. How horrible for a mother to have to make that decision! I am here because I feel passionate about this.

Pastor Truhe went on to describe that even after working with children who live in the U.S. and have experienced extreme poverty here, it is still difficult to imagine living in a place where those who are hungry cannot even attempt to scrounge for food because there are no extras.

After the pastors met with congressional offices, I caught up with Pastor Backus to ask how his experience has helped shape or alter the way he views advocacy in the ELCA.

Pastor John Backus: I am glad that the ELCA is involved in advocacy for those who have less than they need. It is important, as we give aid to people and help them become more food-safe, that we ask [those in] power the question, “Why do hunger and need continue to exist on a planet of abundance?”

I will be telling other ELCA Nebraskans what a positive experience we had in D.C. … I will also encourage people to speak with their representative[s] and senator[s], [to tell] those folk of their concern for the world’s poor. 

We thank Pastor Backus and Pastor Truhe for their hard work and dedication to ELCA’s advocacy efforts.


Do you feel inspired to help feed the hungry and fight poverty? Your gifts are urgently needed to support out church’s response to the root causes of hunger and poverty.

Visit ELCA World Hunger to donate today!