Development(Spring 2020)

[Individual articles from the Spring 2020 issue of Intersections will be posted on this blog each week. The full issue can be found on MCC’s website.]

“Bread, in God’s name, bread.”

The cry for bread in southern Russia (present-day Ukraine) one hundred years ago was for food. Mennonites in the United States and Canada responded and MCC was born. Only months later, the food to southern Russia was followed by tractors. Today, MCC’s work on behalf of the churches in Canada and the U.S. continues through relief, development and peace extended in the name of Christ. Some would say that these three follows each other chronologically, one after the other, but it would be more accurate to say that MCC’s relief, development and peace efforts are intertwined.

MCC bread distribution in Hamburg, Germany, ca. 1947. (MCC photo)

In Uganda today one sees the interconnectedness of relief, development and peace. MCC works with churches and community-based organizations as they respond to the immediate relief needs of communities while also addressing the trauma from rampant killing and abuse in their communities over years of violent unrest. Today, the work of development is also critically important in these same communities. In the Karamoja region, MCC works with the Church of Uganda as it teaches new agricultural skills to farmers who once herded cattle. When visiting a community to talk about the project, one woman told us the crops didn’t appear on their own but required hard work. Sand dams in this same community also provide water the people need to live healthy lives. The stories confirm a simple truth: when people are given the tools to make their lives better, they can thrive. This special centennial issue of Intersections features glimpses into MCC’s work in development over the past decades—work to improve education, healthcare, agricultural production, access to water and more. Articles analyze shifts in development approaches as well as offer analyses of specific development ventures. Of special importance in this issue are the voices of long-serving MCC national staff, who reflect on shifts, challenges faced, and lessons learned in MCC’s development work: listen carefully to the wisdom from these faithful MCCers.

Ron Byler and Ann Graber Hershberger are the MCC U.S. executive director and associate executive director, respectively.

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