“Not only were many hungry fed for a significant period of time, but also the congregation was inspired to work together with other denominations and the community to make it happen.”
Hunger is a formidable enemy.
It robs people of their energy, and ultimately their health. Each day at least 842 million people worldwide struggle with this adversary because they don’t have access to adequate food to live healthy lives. This leads to undernutrition, and ultimately malnutrition, and sufferers have no resources to fight disease. Children who are poorly nourished suffer up to 160 days of illness each year. They are more susceptible to diseases like measles and malaria. Poor nutrition plays a role in at least half of 7.6 million child deaths each year.
The thought of one child dying because they don’t have enough to eat is incredibly disturbing, but 7.6 million?
We have been fighting this enemy for many years. Has there been progress? The answer is good news. The percentage of hungry people has declined globally from 18.6 per cent of the population in 1990 to 12 per cent in 2013. However, changes in weather and harvest cycles are threatening to undo this progress and significantly increase the number of people at risk.
What does hunger look like? The World Health Organization describes the typical ration for one adult for a day as 450 grams of cereal (just over two cups), 50 grams of pulses (less than half a cup of lentils), 50 grams of oil, and about a teaspoon of salt. If this is typical, many struggle with even less.
The exciting news is that there is opportunity for individuals and churches to make a difference in fighting world hunger. Pastor Robert Thompson and the Beaubier Pentecostal Church in Beaubier, Saskatchewan, proved this.
ERDO has been a member of the Canadian Foodgrains Bank (CFGB) for 29 years. CFGB is a partnership of 15 church denominations and church-based agencies working to end global hunger. Churches can raise funds through collections and events. They then send those funds directly to ERDO, or to CFGB designated to ERDO’s account, for food programs that are matched by the Canadian government through our membership with CFGB. ERDO uses these funds to qualify for up to $4 for every $1 donated.
Fifteen years ago, Pastor Thompson was approached and asked to consider becoming involved in a growing project. After prayer and discussion, the Beaubier church agreed to start a project. They have 160 acres dedicated exclusively to ERDO’s account at CFGB and work with Glad Tidings Pentecostal Church in Sudbury, which partners with them in the project. For 15 years the project has been registered with the Canadian Foodgrains Bank so that each year when the crop is in, all the expenses are already paid and all of the funds from crop sales can be donated.
There are three times of celebration each year. “In the spring, participants solicit labour, seed, fertilizer, fuel and [gifts of] time throughout the community,” says Thompson. Although the project originates in the church, members of other congregations and community members participate as well.
“Harvest day is always festive with a barbecue or prepared lunch for participants and their families. Numerous combines arrive to take off the harvest,” says Thompson. A spirit of celebration prevails as participants anticipate the harvest and the ways in which it will benefit others.
At the end of the year, they celebrate what has been accomplished. Those who participated join with those who anticipate being involved in the future. A guest speaker from a host country tells of the impact on the hungry people in his community. The gospel is shared, and awards are given. Even the local media are involved as the event is reported in the local newspaper.
Because all expenses have been covered before harvest time, the money raised from the entire crop is given to ERDO for food programs that are matched by the Canadian government through our membership in CFGB. “The crop in 2013 yielded 10,000 bushels of barley. With the 4 to 1 matching, this is a value of $150,000. This is excellent missions giving for a small Saskatchewan church who dares to trust a big God,” said Thompson. He compares it to the biblical story of Jesus feeding the 5,000. “The Beaubier project usually generates enough food to feed 5,000 people for six months or more.”
What an incredible return on investment! Not only were many hungry fed for a significant period of time, but also the congregation was inspired to work together with other denominations and the community to make it happen. Pastor Thompson has recently moved to another congregation but continues to support the Beaubier project.
There are so many opportunities to get involved and make a difference. If you aren’t able to physically assist with planting and harvesting, you can donate through ERDO for the expenses involved in the project. Or you can inspire others in your congregation to join with you and form a similar group. Pastors, there are great resources for food-related sermons and activities found at www.foodgrainsbank.ca/education. There are materials online and in print to make your congregation more aware of and involved in the issue of hunger. Find your area’s CFGB regional co-ordinator at http://foodgrainsbank.ca/contact.aspx.
The principle of sowing and reaping is prominent in the Scriptures. “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously” (2 Corinthians 9:6).
The Father also looks with tenderness on the hungry and oppressed, and is pleased with those who minister to them. As we near the season of harvest, what an opportunity He affords us to be part of the solution. “… and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday” (Isaiah 58:10). ERDO (Emergency Relief & Development Overseas) is the humanitarian agency of The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada. ERDO is involved in four key areas: Crisis Response, Food Relief, ChildCARE Plus (Child Sponsorship), and Community Development. David Adcock is the CEO. Visit www.erdo.ca. Ann Peachman Stewart is a freelance author from Mississauga and a longtime ERDO supporter.