The Start of Something Big
Derek Wade started what is now known as Harvest for The Hungry during the Balkan War, a conflict which resulted in 2.4 million people fleeing to other countries, and a further 2 million internally displaced.
Derek mobilised churches and schools around Kettering and Bristol to respond, packing boxes with food, and sending them with clothes and other aid from churches and schools across England via Transform Europe Network (then known as Eurovangelism). TEN used its well-established links locally to ensure aid got to where most needed.
Explaining how his food parcel vision developed, Derek, a member of St Botolph’s Church in Barton Seagrave, said: “In 1991, I was Head of Science and Maths at Dunstable College. Our two children had left home, and Jane, my wife, and I were considering going into some form of full-time Christian work. Two close friends had been going into Eastern Europe in the Communist days, taking in Bibles and aid. We’d prayed for them as they travelled, and through them the needs – spiritual and physical – of those living in those countries started to hit home to us.”
In Northampton, foreign orchestras often performed at the Derngate Theatre. Derek, Jane, and some friends formed a group who obtained bibles in the language of those performing, waiting outside the stage door to offer them as performers came out. Derek said: “On one occasion, the Sofia Philharmonic Orchestra played.” The principal cellist, who was also a member of the Bulgarian Parliament said to him, ”How is it you can buy Bibles in our language, but we can’t even get paper to print them in my country? I would so love some bibles to give to prisoners.”
”How is it you can buy Bibles in our language, but we can’t even get paper to print them in my country? I would so love some bibles to give to prisoners.”
Through Gary Cox, Director of TEN at that time, the group located Bulgarian Bibles in Stuttgart. That summer of 1991, Derek, Jane, and a friend took humanitarian aid, the 300 Bulgarian bibles collected in Germany, and hundreds of Romanian children’s Bibles to TEN’s projects in Romania and Bulgaria, making a 5000-mile round trip in a large Transit van. The children’s Bibles were donated in memory of a girl from St. Botolph’s Church, who was killed in a car crash. “It was on that trip to Romania that I realised the difference food parcels made to families in extreme poverty,” Derek said, “and I guess that was when vision for HfTH started to develop. I returned home and spent most of the year applying for safe Christian jobs but nothing materialised. I asked TEN if I could work for them. But they said ’we’d love to have you but can’t afford you.’”
by Revd Paul Eddy