Empowering people!

A reflection from Lynn Magnuson, CWS Regional Director for the Pacific Northwest

A pre-Haiti-quake reflection from Lynn Magnuson, CWS Regional Director for the Pacific Northwest

Lynn Magnuson
Lynn Magnuson, CWS Pacific Northwest Regional Director
Photo: CWS

I am asked "Does Church World Service help with agriculture?  Does CWS do peace and justice work?  Is CWS involved with climate change discussions?”

Yes, yes, and yes!  Local church people follow news stories, and are anxious to be told that they, through the work of CWS, are making a difference in the world. But the explanations aren't sexy, and they are difficult to do in 15 second sound bites.  The situations are complicated, and the answers involved. 

Most often the answers I give are in the form of stories about people.

"I met a man," is often the beginning.  He lives in the Middle East and once grew melons, and made a good living.  But then he no longer could get water for his fields, and now is forced to grow dry land crops. Obtaining water for his family is difficult, but CWS, through local partners, helped him build a cistern to collect and hold rainwater from his roof and patio. As we left, he said, "Please tell your people, Thank You!"

It is about a local farmer in Vietnam, where changes in the type of rice seed means, rather than one crop a year, there are two crops plus a season of growing flowers before the New Year. Smiles abound and children are fed.

Young people returning to the village in Cambodia, carrying firewood on their backs, shared their fears for the future because the forest is being sold to international companies who tear down the trees and plant orchards of nut trees for a cash crop.  CWS has been working with Buddhist monks, teaching them how to be advocates for their people with the government.  A small story, but with ramifications for the future.

In the places I have visited, and the stories I tell, CWS is not about flashy headline-grabbing work. It is about enabling local people to make changes that will make a difference for generations to come. It is about building coalitions so that together we can support people as they struggle in times of war, natural disasters and a changing future. 

For all our people of faith, it is about feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, healing the sick, and so much more…  It is about neighbors near and far.

 

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