In June 2018, WDR convenor Rev. David Nixon, WDR Officer Tim Dunwoody and WDR Admin & Comms Officer Laura Kerr, gave the following report to the Methodist Church in Ireland's annual Conference.
There is great need and hardship in the world.
“Jesus went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read. The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind. To release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.” He rolled up the scroll and said; “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” Luke 4:16
The work of WDR is part of God’s mission to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and release the oppressed in the world. It is a privilege for us to work with people like Nader Abu Amsha in East Jerusalem, Rev. Joseph Donkoh in Ghana or Thokozani Poswa in Phakamisa who are working together with others to bring reality to the words: ‘Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven…give us today our daily bread…”
Our Methodist understanding of God and our commitment to good development practice means that there are several principles to which World Development & Relief is committed.
Firstly, we are committed to ‘transformational development’ which goes beyond material and economic well-being. Our motivation is clear to partners and local people. We do what we do because God has blessed us and because God loves all people and wishes their potentials to be fulfilled. WDR witnesses to these truths in life, word and action on your behalf. Our hope is that people catch a glimpse of God in it all.
Secondly, we are committed to a style of partnership that is relational and is based on shared Christian values. Such relationships develop trust, accountability and transparency that is genuine and welcome.
There are other mechanisms to ensure we are all doing the best we can. Every partner submits reports to the committee every six months. This helps with monitoring and evaluation. You may be interested to know that, in those report templates, partners are asked to evaluate WDR’s performance within the partnership during that same period. On the basis of these reports, we learn, dialogue and chart the best way forward; together. We co-fund four partners with Christian Aid Ireland and All We Can. In those cases, it our larger sister agencies who monitor the work.
Thirdly, we are committed to a long-term walk with partners and the materially poor. We ask “Why is there poverty or injustice?”. In other words, with our partners, we try to tackle the causes. We believe that local people are better placed to identify the problems and solutions and it is local people who take the lead. In our logo, you could imagine that it is their foot that is leading.
Fourthly, we are committed to the idea that everyone who contributes, is a partner. The committee, the staff and volunteers of the implementing organisation, the local people who put in labour, skills and knowledge (and often some money), Irish supporters who give funds, skills and time and any other individual or body that contributes to positive transformation. We each play our appropriate part. None is greater than the other. We need each other to be effective. WDR is the glue that holds this network together. If you’re involved you hopefully feel that you are part of something that is good, effective and Godly.
We would have a hard job doing what we do without our supporters. Whether by giving of time and skills, giving financially or by covering WDR and partners in prayer, our supporters are key. In recent years some of our key supporter groups have been those who trekked the Himalayas for Kopila-Nepal, those who purchased a Gift for Life and those who took part in the Belfast Marathon.
Our fundraising at this year’s marathon was in aid of our partner in Zimbabwe, Dabane Water Workshops. In 2017, we had 50 people take part and this year we had 84. Together, this brilliant group of 84 people raised over £22,000 for Dabane! Money which will be used to develop clean, safe water supplies which will help ensure health & wellbeing of resource-poor families through the supply of uncontaminated water.
Of course it is such an encouragement to see the number of supporters and the fundraising total grow each year, but there is so much more to take from this.
Irish Methodists, often with friends and family, are choosing WDR as their development agency. They’re recognising the need and are taking the opportunity to make a difference. They’re giving their time to walk alongside WDR.
We, as Christians, are called to serve, to speak up for those without a voice and to stand up for the poor. 84 people took part in the Belfast Marathon wearing a green bib with ‘Irish Methodist World Development & Relief’written on the front and the words ‘WE'RE TACKLING POVERTY’ on the back. To those watching the race or running alongside, what our presence said was that we as Christians, and as the Methodist Church in Ireland, care that 33% of our world lives in poverty. We, as Christians, don’t opt-in to caring about the poor- it is our call and it is our duty.
Why? Because it is God’s heart for his people.
We’re showing that our Church is not willing to sit back and let things stay as they are. But rather that we are active, we are working and we will not accept the poverty status quo.
Some people say that our God is irrelevant to them or that what we do on a Sunday, is a mystery to them, BUT they see the sense and goodness of doing something or giving money to help those who are materially poor. Perhaps that’s when our faith makes most sense to them.
We are seeing more and more people engaging with the work of WDR. Mainly Methodists of course but also those outside our church. What an opportunity to show the best side of faith – helping others.
Giving has increased so much in the last couple of years that we were able to allocate an extra £82,000 to your partners in 2018, extra work that neither we nor they had budgeted for. Fantastic.
Regular giving via Standing Order is still the best way to give. It probably means you can give more, once set up you have no hassle and it enables WDR and its partners to plan ahead.
Most people wish to help the poor. The big problem is, with so many organisations, who do you give to, who is the most effective, who do you trust? WDR works. It is effective and built upon your values. Let us manage your giving for you.
As a result of the increase in giving, more children are being taught, more patients are being seen, more clean water is pumped, more harvests are reaped, more people are understanding their rights and claiming them, more of the homeless are obtaining homes, more children are hearing, more marginalised women are developing livelihoods, more are being rescued from slavery and being rehabilitated.
In order to continue these aspects of bringing His Kingdom to Earth, we need you to engage and commit.
There are children, women and men who are not being reached because we don’t yet have the capacity.
So, I would say God is doing something special through World Development & Relief.
If not already, would you like to join in us?
What a privilege to be involved in the work Jesus started! Preaching good news to the poor, proclaiming freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind releasing the oppressed, proclaiming the year of the Lord’s favour…
Alan McIlhenny, of WDR partner, Open Schools Worldwide, wrote recently: “Thanks Tim and please thank the committee on our behalf. We really appreciate your support and encouragement, not just the financial donation but knowing you all care really helps."
So I want to finish by saying a huge THANK YOU for being involved in this aspect of the mission of our church.