Jesus looked at the hungry five thousand sitting in the sun on the hillside and said to his disciples: “You give them something to eat” (Matthew 14:16).
When we sat down together in Winnipeg in 1983 to create Canadian Foodgrains Bank, we knew we had been given a fresh means of obedience to our Lord. We felt the imbalance between our full cupboards and the empty bowls in too many parts of the world.
In one way or another, we kept reminding ourselves that hunger is real, malnutrition is doing damage and starvation is the ghost at the door.
We attached no strings to our shipments. A hungry person, whoever they may be, needs to have food to eat. At the same time, wherever possible, we worked through fellow Christians in the lands of need – so that grain could go with compassion and integrity, and a chance to share the reason for the faith that impels disciples of our Lord.
We saw ourselves as simply a distribution arm of Christian sharing. We were the disciples of carrying bread to segments of the crowd upon the hillside.
We did it because Jesus told us to. This is another way in which our Lord keeps trying to teach us: focus on the needs of others and discover the joy of common enterprise; be obedient to the impulse to care and share and receive the courage to be faithful; for inasmuch as you have done it, so you have done it unto me.
I am thankful to God for the privilege.
Bruce and Barbara Neal
Bruce has been an ordained pastor for more than 65 years. He was the chair of CBM’s Relief and Development arm The Sharing Way and a founding member of the Canadian Foodgrains Bank. He is presently Pastor Emeritus at his home church Kingsway Baptist Church in Toronto.
The creation of the Canadian Foodgrains Bank is part of the timeline featured in A Legacy of Presence, the companion to this issue. Read it online here.