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 golf tournament/fundraiser 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.