What does it mean for Food for the Hungry (FH) Canada to call ourselves a Christian not-for-profit?
There can be a tendency to stereotype people of faith, and while this is inevitable, it can still be painful. At FH Canada, we see all forms of poverty as rooted in all forms of broken relationships. We, therefore, make the focus of our work walking with others, rather than on an ideology that can alienate.
We also don't want to be misunderstood as simply a vehicle for proselytization; we really do development work–that's our calling! And we're downright good at it.
So here are a few things it does NOT mean to affirm FH Canada as a Christian not-for-profit:
It does not mean that a community has to be Christian or become Christian in order to partner with Food for the Hungry.
It does not mean that we force participants to go to church or read the Bible.
It does not mean that we discriminate against race, gender, or religious persuasion. On the contrary, we are rooted in a Christian faith that unrelentingly asserts the inherent dignity and equality of each individual as created in the image of God.
So what DOES it mean for FH Canada to be a Christian not-for-profit?
At FH Canada, we believe that God loves the most vulnerable people in the world and has called us to serve them. God hates poverty and injustice but loves relationship. He wants to see human flourishing in every part of the world and among every group of people in the world. So we roll up our sleeves, partner with God, and set about the business of helping mend what is broken.
Poverty is so complex! But at the root of it, I think we can agree that there are broken relationships—between humans and the earth, between governments, between races, between families, between neighbours.
We see that climate change impacts the poorest and most vulnerable communities in the world more than the rich ones. We see the continuing ripple effects of colonialism and imperialism. We see unfair trade laws and lack of workers' unions. We see gender discrimination. We see domestic violence and clan warfare. We see political polarization and the vilification of those who disagree with us.
We see that in our own hearts, we are reluctant to give up our daily comforts to help those who are trapped in a cycle of poverty they did not initiate.
As Christians, we at FH Canada believe that God wants to heal each and every one of those relationships, and that he does this through the death and resurrection of Jesus. That's where our faith and work intersect.
So we help start Savings and Loans groups, send children to school, and offer parental counseling. We equip farmers to plant more productive fields, train mothers on how to teach their neighbours life-saving health lessons, and educate parents to protect their daughters from child marriage.
We encourage community members by telling them that they are created in the image of God and do not, under any circumstances, deserve to be poor.
Our field staff embrace this worldview and walk it out with deep integrity. They pray with community members when it’s appropriate, train pastors to live out their faith in practical ways, and tell children how much God loves them. All while helping to end material, emotional, relational, and yes, spiritual, poverty.
In short, we love our partner communities with God's love, and we serve them with God's energy. That's what it means to affirm FH Canada as a Christian not-for-profit.
If you are reading this and do not share our Christian convictions, we thank you for your willingness to engage with our beliefs. One of the things we love most about our donors is your generosity to reach across the table and join hands in the common cause of ending poverty—one community at a time.
This article was based on the blog post Why a Christina NGO by former FH Canada President Bernie Willock. Learn more about how we believe God reconciles our key relationships to deliver us from all forms of poverty.