CBM Responding Issue 9

I S S U E 0 9 | Winter 2023

Photo of Jennifer Lau in duotone

“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” (1 Peter 3:15, NIV)

Thank you for your faithfulness throughout this past year. Your support has enabled us to bring Christ’s message of hope to a world that seems increasingly on the edge. As we forge ahead together into 2023, we look forward to witnessing all that God makes possible through His enduring love.

Conflicts, political divisions, war, extreme weather events, inflation and hunger are
just some of the difficulties people are facing today. It is easy to look upon these challenges and consider each of them as impossible to navigate. But we serve the
God of the impossible.

And we have reason to hope. You have inspired us by answering the call to action despite the difficulties many of us are presented with daily. It does not take much to experience the effects of what is happening globally at our local grocery store. In truth, we are all feeling the budgetary burdens in our own households. Communities with additional economic uncertainties feel these financial pressures the most, both here and abroad. Which is why we are earnestly focusing on food security this year so families can have food on the table and children do not go hungry, no matter where they live.

We are privileged to work with Canadian Foodgrains Bank whom we have partnered with these last forty years in response to global hunger issues. Byron Richardson has been an important part of this relationship and we invite you to discover more about the Richardson family legacy of commitment and giving in this issue.

In 2022, you brought hope to vulnerable communities by empowering women, ensuring access to education, supporting refugees, helping set up small businesses and building up local churches. In the following pages we will give account for the fruitfulness of these labours, including one child’s inspiring enthusiasm for growing vegetables that helped fuel a change in his Kenyan community towards greater food security. We celebrate the completion of long-term goals as Elim’s Compassion Ministries in Andhra Pradesh India, successfully transitioned to a self-sustaining model. Also, your incredible response to the emergency appeal for Ukraine raised well over a million dollars to address the immediate needs of refugees. Thank you for your generosity.

There are new and exciting endeavours on the horizon with CBM. Programs such as support for marginalized women in India to earn income, safe and supportive spaces for vulnerable children in Lebanon, and the pursuit of new partnerships and programs that address our key causes. Our Vennture series continues as we explore the theme of Creation where we can be co-creators together with God to better our communities. As well, we are igniting something new with the incredibly effective Active-In-Mission campaign this year. Stay tuned to find out more.

None of these activities would be possible without your steadfast prayers and support. Your faithful giving has invested in the very lives of local communities around the world where hope is renewed and the Gospel is shared. Thank you for partnering with us through word and deed.

Grace and peace,

Jennifer Lau
Executive Director

CBM’s Ministry Impact in 2022

Poverty and economic crises, droughts and famines, political and ethnic conflict, and many other humanitarian crises continue to greatly impact the lives of vulnerable populations globally. As we begin a new year, we are renewed in our commitment to share the Word and be co-labourers with Christ to love, serve and bring hope to those in need around the world.  

For a year filled with both ample challenges and successes, we are grateful that we have been able to support 136,018 individuals through our five key causes: poverty, justice, kids at risk, build the church and crisis response.  

In a time when there is so much suffering and need around the world, your faithful support is an ongoing reminder of God’s promise to redeem His creation through the hands and feet of Jesus. Thank you for bringing hope, dignity, and vital care to vulnerable people groups by facilitating poverty relief and community strengthening programs, peacebuilding and social justice initiatives, as well as equipping and empowering local churches for integral ministry. 

We actively encourage sustainable practices that are locally-led and creation-minded among new and ongoing partnerships whenever possible. We recently celebrated the conclusion of a child and youth development partnership with Elim’s Compassion Ministries in Andhra Pradesh, India, after the program became self-sustaining. They will continue to run the program without the need of external financial support – enabling us to allocate funds to more relief and development work in India.  

Our emergency appeal for the crisis in Ukraine raised over $1.2 million to provide aid to refugees and internally displaced persons through our eastern European local church partners. Emergency shelters and refugee homes were constructed, food and personal hygiene supplies were also distributed. God’s people have continually responded in generous and compassionate ways to address the needs of those suffering due to the ongoing conflict. We welcome you to reflect on the many examples of God’s grace and work amid this crisis by visiting our website at cbmin.org/ukraine-crisis.  

CBM also started two exciting new partnerships in 2022.  

In Thailand, we are working with Operation Dawn (a Gospel-based drug rehabilitation ministry) to assist people in overcoming addiction and strengthening their faith through discipleship training. 

In Togo, we are partnering with the Togo Baptist Convention to provide capacity building to staff, directors and missionary pastors through field evangelism and integral mission training. We hope to bring more people to faith and transform local communities through biblical faith in action. 

New and Exciting Initiatives for 2023

Here are just a few examples of what’s in store in 2023 with CBM.    

With approximately 7,000 widows facing discrimination, social stigma and minimal access to income in Mokokchung District of Nagaland, India, we are partnering with the local Baptist community to provide support. Our hope is for these rural widows to experience Christ’s love, find renewed dignity and access income generating resources.  

In Lebanon, we will be working with the Lebanese Society for Educational and Social Development (LSESD) to run a child friendly space by providing a safe place with access to psycho-social support for 700 vulnerable children. By fostering a supportive environment, we hope to reduce the risk of child labour, early marriage, abuse, or exploitation.  

We are also pursuing additional programming and partnerships in 2023 that focus on intentional stewardship of God’s creation to support economic and social development among vulnerable communities. We are excited to see where God will lead us in the pursuit of this important work.  

We know we can only continue our work and bring greater impact through partnerships with faithful churches and individuals, like you. Thank you for trusting us to be your mission partner as we embrace a broken world through word and deed.

Recent statistics show that a staggering ten percent of the world’s population are suffering the effects of food insecurity. Your support has helped address the needs of the hungry around the world both with acute needs and in working towards long-term solutions.

In 2022, CBM funded more than two million dollars towards food programming. Some of these investments were made in partnership with the Canadian Foodgrains Bank who is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. We feel privileged to have been at the table since their formation in 1983. With your help, we were able to ensure local farmers in Kenya, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and South Sudan received much needed training to improve food harvests. Additionally, more than a million was earmarked for food relief in Lebanon and Ukraine, as well as other countries struggling through catastrophic events.

The needs are immense, but you have brought hope to people contending with poverty and marginalization. By supporting these programs, you help reach the next generation with the skills and tools needed to bring about a brighter future for whole villages. Communities like the village of Kimangaru, where 13-year-old Lejimco lives with his parents and younger brother in Kenya. His family would often buy a meager portion of vegetables at the market. It was never enough for everyone, resulting in nutritional deficiencies for the family. Sometimes they would subsist solely on ugali (a dense porridge made of cornmeal) with tea.

Lejimco joined the 4K Club at his local school, which teaches practical skills on food security to its 41 student members. They discuss topics like mitigating the effects of climate change with drought-tolerant crops, resiliency and diversification with kitchen gardens, as well as propagating fruit trees with environmental conservation in mind.

Lejimco was particularly keen on kitchen gardens and helped to prepare the school’s demonstration plot. He even joined the leadership in managing the garden. His excitement was infectious as he took this knowledge to address the challenges faced by his own family in regards to food security.

He convinced his mother to let him use a small piece of their land for their new kitchen garden. He started small by growing onions, and now he grows a wide variety of vegetables like kale, spinach, tomatoes and green amaranth. His father was also inspired by his son’s enthusiasm and applied conservation agriculture to his own plot by using mulch and reducing water consumption. Lejimco’s father was able to sell his casava harvest and buy a chicken knowing it was the beginning of a new source of food and income for the family.

Lejimco didn’t limit the sharing of his newfound knowledge to just his family, but with the community at large. He spoke with others in his village, like Mrs. Muriithi, who says, “I have been growing vegetables on a piece of land which is a bit far from home. Lejimco talked to me about the idea of growing vegetables within the homestead and its working well. I am planning to expand my kitchen garden.”

This is just one example of how teaching one child can affect an entire community. These much needed food security programs are vital in the process of bringing people hope especially in these difficult times. Your support has multiplied that hope, not only in the village of Kimangaru, but across all of CBM food security projects around the world.

Byron has participated in Canadian Foodgrains Bank programming since its inception in 1983 when his father, Clayton Richardson, was the first board of director to represent CBM.

Byron has since taken on that role as a director, rounding out forty years as a farmer, donor and leader with Foodgrains addressing hunger issues globally. He and his children run a multi-generational farm that has contributed to Foodgrains projects for decades with a hope to continue for many years to come. Here’s a small excerpt of a recent conversation with Byron:


Q: How did your family get involved with Foodgrains?

My parents (Clayton and the late Connie Richardson) visited a Kenyan refugee camp serving displace people during the famine in Somalia in the 1980s. They came back changed, especially knowing that many others were still starving despite these efforts. Recognizing that experience really brought the reality of food insecurity to our attention. Sometimes we’re so far removed from the pain that we just go on with our lives and ignore the reality. But mom and dad were concerned about what they could do in their lives that could make an impact. This led to our commitment with Foodgrains.

Since then, my wife, Susan, and I have been to Kenya and Rwanda, and Kendra
(my daughter) and her husband have travelled with Foodgrains on a food study
tour in Kenya.

Q: As a farmer, what are some of the challenges you face today?

Farming has huge risks as it takes rain, frost free days, no insects, and no hail among other factors. We’re constantly up against cash flow problems. Everyone’s aware of how much costs have gone up, especially in urban areas, but farmers must deal with the rise in prices that impact the sustainability of the farm. The carbon tax is applied to just about every stage of farming and the price of inputs, such as fertilizer and equipment, have really escalated.

Q: What spurs you on with Foodgrains despite the challenges of farming?

The need for food security is enormous. Our Christian worldview is that we’re “blessed to be a blessing”. There’s a responsibility to be stewards of what we have. Foodgrains’ Christian response to hunger is to ask ourselves, will I make a choice to be godly or will I continue living for myself? I love the idea that we have an opportunity to be used by God in a significant way. I think that’s where the Foodgrains opportunity is unique.

We’re trying to pass along the culture of being submitted in your heart to the Lord to our grandkids. We want to be a biblically based church with biblical values and biblical relationships. Our relationship with the hungry is an important relationship. How can we feel good about that relationship if we have enough but there are people starving while we have the ability to do something about it?

Q: Why is Foodgrains important to Canadian Baptists in addressing global food security?

Today’s crisis is right in front of us. Russia and Ukraine are among the top ten in world wheat production. The war has consequences on the global supply with wheat being one of the foundational grains that deeply impacts food security around the world.

There’s nowhere in Canadian history where there’s been a 4 to 1 match for donations. To see the Canadian government appreciate what we’re doing in Foodgrains and align themselves with us is quite a privilege, especially as a Christian organization in today’s society.

Q: What would you say to others who may be thinking about participating with Foodgrains?

As a donor, your investment is multiplied four times! You can really make a difference.

I really encourage other farmers to join us. The latest Foodgrains model is to have a type of virtual farm where the growth project is part of the farm instead of a separate piece of land. This cuts out some of the logistical challenges of managing another plot of land as well as the risk of spreading crop damaging diseases. The more God blesses the crop, the more Foodgrains gets that blessing. My vision is to see more farmers join in this effort.

I’ve always admired creative people and can think of several over the years who have fascinated me with their natural, God-given ability to create, design or innovate. Throughout the history of civilization, generations of people have benefitted from the creative genius of others.

Thomas Edison, Walt Disney, Henry Ford, Margaret Atwood, Leonardo Di Vinci, Steve Jobs, Joni Mitchell and countless others have created amazing pieces of art, music, innovative technologies, architectural masterpieces and businesses.   

We may never know someone as famous as Walt Disney or Margaret Atwood, but we all have those friends, don’t we? The ones who, without much effort, can put pencil to paper and sketch the most amazing drawings, pick up a guitar and make the most beautiful music, take rough pieces of wood and craft them into a masterpiece. Or walk into the kitchen and turn a few simple ingredients into the most flavourful plate of food without even looking at a recipe. Maybe you’re one of these individuals … or maybe you feel the best you can do is draw stick people or make a humble pot of Kraft dinner.   

Regardless of where you fall on the creativity spectrum the truth of the matter is,
as human beings, we all have an innate ability to create and to be creative. Maybe
you don’t have amazing artistic abilities, or musical talent, but perhaps you can create elaborate spreadsheets, design detailed plans or plant a beautiful flower garden.   

The Bible begins with the creation story where, from nothing, God lays down the very foundations of the Earth and beautifully creates everything in it. And, as amazing as all this creation is, we learn that God’s most remarkable work was creating human beings. As creative as all the people mentioned above are, they pale in comparison to God, the Creator of the heavens and the Earth.

Do you know what’s even more amazing about the creation story? We learn, in Genesis 1:26-28, often referred to as the Cultural Mandate, that we have been made in the IMAGE and LIKENESS of God and have been given a mandate to co-create with Him. God instructs us to be fruitful and multiply, fill the Earth and subdue it, which means we are to cultivate the Earth in a manner that brings glory to God and contributes to the flourishing of individuals, families and communities.

Vennture aims to help people discover their unique ability to co-create with God for the betterment of communities and His glory. In her book, Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from its Cultural Captivity, Nancy Pearcey says,

“The lesson of the Cultural Mandate is that our sense of fulfillment depends on engaging in creative, constructive work. The ideal human existence is not eternal leisure or an endless vacation—or even a monastic retreat into prayer and meditation—but creative effort expended for the glory of God and the benefit of others. Our calling is not just to ‘get to heaven’ but also to cultivate the earth, not just to ‘save souls’ but also to serve God through our work. For God Himself is engaged not only in the work of salvation (special grace) but also in the work of preserving and developing His creation (common grace). When we obey the Cultural Mandate, we participate in the work of God Himself, as agents of His common grace.” 

I don’t know about you, but I find it extremely exciting to know that we can participate in the redemptive work of God through our daily work! Let me take this thought a
bit further… 

A holistic theology of work is an understanding that our work is not simply a means to an end (i.e., working to earn money to buy food and clothing) or something to endure (i.e., working for the weekend or retirement), but is part of God’s master plan to redeem all creation. When faith meets work all the hours of our days can be infused with meaning and purpose.   

At Vennture, we work to assist in the creation of transformational businesses that preserve and develop God’s creation. We do this within a partner network and in a spirit of mutuality by: providing meaningful work for individuals; needed products and services in the local marketplace; and opportunities to participate in God’s redemptive work of bringing transformation to communities and healing to a broken world.   

Several of our global partners are already reshaping their views of work and business and are integrating a more holistic understanding of the theology of work. This has led them to create Vennture Initiatives aimed at addressing brokenness in their local communities, such as poverty, unemployment/underemployment, food insecurity or addictions.   

For example, our partner, Alempang Baptist Church in Nagaland, India, has created a business to address high rates of unemployment among young people, many of whom have struggled with addictions. Thanks to the MITA Organic Food Processing business, recovered young adults have been given an opportunity to learn new skills allowing them to earn an income and contribute to the growth of their community.   

In Capiz province of the Philippines, our partner, Kabuganaan Philippines Ministries, has created two businesses aimed at bringing transformation and healing to the brokenness in their local communities. Food for Life has helped lift farmers out of systemic poverty that has been perpetuated by broken government systems and unfair economic conditions. And Bugana Livelihood Center has provided equipment, materials and training so that vulnerable women and out-of-school youth from poor communities can earn a fair wage to help support their families’ basic needs.

To use some business language, Vennture is “scaling up” our efforts so we can expand our work with partners in the creation of more redemptive and transformational businesses.  We are currently working with several other partners to conceptualize new transformational businesses and we are excited to see what opportunities will arise in the months ahead.  If you’d like to learn more about how you can participate in the creation of new Vennture Initiatives, either by sharing your resources or your expertise, please reach out to us through any of the channels listed below.

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