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Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread

Well, the lazy days of summer just roll on. After a great few days camping in BC with my brother and his family, yesterday afternoon was spent participating in a local fundraiser golf tournament for the Canadian Foodgrains Bank. My father is one of the coordinators for the local growing project here, and when he asked my brother and I if we wanted to go golfing to support a good cause, we could hardly say no (despite the fact that we are both truly abysmal golfers!). The “tournament” consisted of a handful of groups comprised of local farmers, ranchers, agri-business representatives, Foodgrains bank reps, auctioneers, and a couple of stray theology nerds tagging along with their dad.

For those who don’t know, the Canadian Foodgrains Bank is one of those organizations that you simply cannot help but admire. It was started in 1983 by the Mennonite Central Committee as an attempt to help those in need around the world, but quickly grew to include members of a wide variety of denominational groups. Here’s what this little idea has become:

The Canadian Foodgrains Bank was formed in time to make a significant contribution to alleviating famine during the Ethiopia crisis in 1984. Today, more than 1,000,000 tonnes of food have been provided to people who are hungry, in more than 80 countries around the world. Fifteen church agencies, representing over 17,000 congregations make up the membership of Canadian Foodgrains Bank.

That’s the big picture. The little picture is individual growing projects all over the prairies, one of which was the focus of yesterday’s event. Everyone present at this event had already contributed or was interested in contributing in some way to the local piece of land that had been set aside for the Foodgrains Bank. Each year, a farmer donates a piece of land (usually 160 acres), seed, fertilizer, etc are donated by others, and then a much larger group gets together to harvest it in the fall. I’ve never been to harvest day, but I’m told it’s quite a party—a whole bunch of men and machines show up, and the whole field is done in a few hours. The proceeds from what  is harvested go straight into the Foodgrains Bank. It’s a great project.

So, we hacked our way around a little golf course out in the country, enjoyed a lovely dinner, and then it was down to business. The services of a local auctioneer were secured to auction off the barley and straw that will be coming off this piece of land in fall. I haven’t been to many auctions, but it was certainly entertaining. I have often been accused of talking too fast, but these guys? Well, that was a whole new level of speed. Needless to say, everything went for significantly more than it would have fetched on the market. As we were leaving, the organizer could hardly contain his excitement: this one little afternoon event had raised nearly $100 000 for the Foodgrains Bank.

Of course, it was great to see so much money raised for world relief. It was also great to see people from across the denominational spectrum come together for something like this. Catholics, Mennonites, Christian Reformed, Hutterites, and probably others including “none of the above”—all gave of their time and resources out of a conviction that the Canadian Foodgrains Bank is doing good and honourable work, borne out of a love for God and their fellow human beings. This much, it seems, we can agree upon, and that’s probably exactly how it should be.

Before the auction began, the Foodgrain Banks representative stood up and very briefly talked about the need in the world today, and the mandate of the Canadian Foodgrains Bank. At one point, he said that he was recently in Ethiopia where he found himself praying the Lord’s Prayer with a local family before a meal one day. When they got to, “Give us this day, our daily bread” he said he paused on the “our.” Through firsthand experience, he had come to see that “our” is a lot bigger than “our family” or “our circle of friends and acquaintances” or “our town, province, and nation.” “Our” includes the whole world.

The Canadian Foodgrains Bank understands this, and is doing God’s will—consistently, patiently, inspirationally, and in a humble and behind-the-scenes-and-out-of-the-spotlight kind of way—on earth as it is in heaven.

To contribute to the work of the Canadian Foodgrains Bank, click here.

11 Comments Post a comment
  1. Jayson #

    Ryan, I see a need for accountability here. I have golfed with you and when I consult a dictionary on the meaning of abysmal, there is talk of hopelessly bad or severe. I don’t think I concur. I recall some stellar shots and shining moments. But then I also see the dictionary offering immeasurably deep or great as an alternative definition. This makes much more sense when I think of our golf outings. And I’m not referring to deep divots and great comic relief, both of which could easily apply! So I’ll assume you refer to greatness and depth when you use abysmal to describe your golf game, and to that I have little to add.

    July 21, 2011
    • Alas, I had neither greatness nor depth in mind in my employment of the term… “Hopelessly bad”—that seems to about cover it…

      Having said that, I think I have at least a few more abysmal outings in me this summer before my patience with golf expires (as it annually does)—I’ll be sure to save at least one of them for you :).

      July 21, 2011
  2. Jayson #

    Oh yeah… I’m looking forward to a round when we come out! If you haven’t spent your tolerance for the summer already that is.

    July 21, 2011
  3. Gil #

    My problem was less with the word “abysmal” and more with the word “both.”

    July 21, 2011
    • Jayson #

      I noticed that as well. You were seamlessly lumped in there. I guess he didn’t see you shoot the lights out at Picture Butte last summer.

      July 21, 2011
    • The only thing I’ve seen Gil shoot out is the side of a maintenance shed, about half a kilometre from the fairway.

      July 21, 2011
      • Gil #

        I did that on purpose – for the photo op.

        July 21, 2011
  4. Wow, interesting stuff Ryan. MCC occupies a huge place in my life and I love hearing about the many projects that they have started. It’s hard to keep track since so many–like this one–end up expanding to larger church community. I’m so glad you got to be apart of this.

    July 21, 2011
  5. jc #

    Not to take away from giving away food to alleviate hunger. Of course its a good thing to alleviate hunger.

    According to the news a drought or famine is causing a lot of death in Somalia. And while great as it is to relieve that hunger with some food it doesn’t seem to confront the underlying problems in that country that cause its population to need such relief. There are parts of developed countries that experience drought without the starvation. What they really seem to need over there is some good governance and modern farming. I suppose though we are stuck shipping them food because having an effect on the rule of law is out of our reach?

    July 21, 2011
    • Yes, based on the limited reading I have done, I think it is clear that the causes of the famine in Somalia are many and varied. I worry that continuing to pour relief in the form of handouts into places like Somalia amounts to a temporary and profoundly inadequate solution to the huge problems that face them—problems of corruption, mismanagement, ignorance, etc.

      At the same time, when a wound is bleeding, you have to do what you can to stop it. This is what I see organizations like the Foodgrains Bank doing. Addressing some of the bigger issues (rule of law, governance, etc) is beyond the scope of what they can do, so they focus on where they can be effective.

      July 22, 2011

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