“My experiences with Growing Hope Globally…are some of the most important threads in the tapestry of my life.”

I’m not sure how old I was when my brother, Matt, and I decided to decorate a small shoebox and place it near our front door to solicit houseguests for money. As a mother to a young child now, I wonder how my parents felt about this rather forward way of greeting our friends and family, but I’m glad they were supportive. Matt and I had recently learned about our church’s support of Growing Hope Globally, then called Foods Resource Bank, and we found it a more-than-worthy cause to support. The problem was that we had very little money, only about $4 a month coming in through our allowances, so we needed to crowdsource to get any sort of worthy sum. I think Matt and I only collected about $10 total in our little shoebox, but it was enough to be considered “donors” of Growing Hope Globally.

I continued to learn about Growing Hope’s work through our church and our treasured family friend, Bev. I also continued to have opportunities to interact with their work as a young person. I attended a few annual meetings, both at home and travelling to Ohio and Iowa, and before my senior year of high school I traveled to Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania to visit agricultural development programs and community partners. I felt myself feel more excited and alive in that experience than in almost anything I had done so far in my life.

I decided to spend my college years studying communications and pursuing opportunities to learn and work in the field of international development in hopes that I could work in communications or marketing for a development organization. I interned at World Renew and received funding to spend a summer with two local partners, UMCOR and the Cross of Armenian Unity, in Armenia during undergrad. I combined my love of telling stories and writing with my interest in international development to help those organizations write stories and reports suited for a native-English speaking ear and edit grants that needed to be submitted in English. After graduation, I spent six years working in community development before quitting my job to begin studying at Calvin Theological Seminary. After my husband and I got married, I began looking for opportunities to share with him firsthand the kind of work that had so deeply impacted the person I had become, and in 2019 we traveled to Kenya together with a group led by our family friend, Bev, to spend time with another organization that’s become especially important to us called EMADO.

My experiences with Growing Hope Globally, and other organizations like it, are some of the most important threads in the tapestry of my life. I’ve realized as I nurture my own family that much of my interest in this work has to do with my love of food — my parents instilled in my brother and I a love for good food and time around the dinner table, which also motivated them to teach us about and expose us to communities and people lacking access to good nutrition and secure food systems. My fascination with food –how it’s prepared, grown, and accessed consumes more of my attention now than ever — both in my day to day life, as I cook and provide food for my family and also in my vocation. In my theological studies I’m especially interested in how the Bible impacts how we think about the food we eat, grow, and share. The work of nonprofits like Growing Hope Globally is one piece of the practical application of these academic ideas. I know, and am so thankful, that my exposure to the work of such organizations had such an enormous impact on who I have become.

-By Abigail Brougher

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