Record Fuel Prices Hurting Christian Charities

Record-breaking fuel prices that have peaked at unimaginable levels this summer have pushed Christian ministries and charity organizations to the brink as they struggle to make ends meet and continue in their worldwide operations to service the needy.

Gary Zander, communications coordinator for Food for the Hungry, said that the high costs of fuel were eating away at his organization's ability to stem the tide of world hunger.

"We're finding the price of food is going up due to transportation costs, and production costs are going up as well. When those two things are put together, then all of a sudden the amount of money you had available for food is strained even more. There's just less available," he told Mission Network News.

Zander said he expects that high fuel prices will make the already desperate global food situation much graver.

"More than 50 countries have stated more than 10 percent of their population didn't have the nutrition they needed," he explained.

High fuel prices have also contributed to the drop in donations to faith-based and community groups.

Katherine Kerr, vice president of public relations for Lutheran Social Services, told the Austin Business Journal that many regular supporters of the nonprofit are cutting back their donations in light of higher gas and grocery prices and general economic worry.

"We are seeing people being more cautious," said Kerr

Lutheran Social Services reported a 47 percent drop in donations in the first five months of this year to $1.9 million.

Aside from high fuel prices, the economic downturn in general has reduced the charitable giving of nearly half of Christian adults in the United States.

According to a recent survey commissioned by Dunham+Co, forty-six percent of Christian adults surveyed – representing 62.5 million Americans – indicated that they have reduced their giving to charity.

But as Christian ministries and charity organizations struggle in an increasingly unstable world, many Christian leaders cite prayer and a reliance on God as necessary to walk through difficult times.

"God still supplies our needs according to His riches and not according to ours," Al Joslyn of Bible Pathway Ministries told MNN.

"So we need to be paying attention to what God says rather than necessarily the bad news of the economy," he said.

According to AAA and Oil Price Information Service, the nationwide average price of a gallon of regular gasoline Monday was $4.08, and is likely to keep rising as distributors and retailers hike prices in response to last week's unprecedented oil price rally.

One year ago, retail gas prices were around $3 a gallon.

Christian Post reporter Eric Young in San Francisco contributed to this article.