A History of Compassion

By Gordon King

Hunger and access to food during times of crisis are a threat to global stability and the well-being of millions of people. Four numbers illustrate some of the dimensions of this humanitarian challenge.

9 – One out of every nine people in the world suffers from hunger or under-nutrition.

70 – Seventy percent of hungry people live in rural areas where food is produced.

80 – Eighty percent of the food consumed in Africa and Asia comes from family farms of less than two hectares.  Increasing the production of these farms is a key to addressing rural hunger and feeding the growing population of the world.

30 – Over the past 30 years foreign aid to agriculture has declined.

Canadian Baptists have a long history of compassion for people that suffer from hunger. During the Great Depression, meals were provided in church halls and the homes of families. The government of Canada donated food to hungry populations following the Second World War. The Sharing Way was established to care for people threatened by hunger, disease, and poverty. Ethiopia was shaken by an immense famine in the early 1980s. Farmers from Baptist churches in the prairie provinces sent their crops to care for the starving. Bruce Neal and Arnold Epp were leaders in the founding of the Canadian Foodgrains Bank.

Today Canadian Baptists continue this tradition with an instinctive understanding that witness in our communities and our world requires us to respond to the needs of hungry. This mission is enacted in creative ways:

  • Community gardens.
  • Support for food banks
  • Classes on cooking and nutrition.
  • Sustainable agriculture projects in East Africa and India.
  • Food relief programs for families displaced by the Syrian civil war.
  • Advocacy to the Government of Canada to increase the percentage of international aid offered to farmers with small landholdings in the Global South.

“When I was hungry you gave me food” is a phrase from the final parable of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew. Jesus goes on to say that we show our love for him when we care for the needs of those who are weak and vulnerable.

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