As followers of Jesus Christ, members of the Mennonite, Brethren in Christ and Amish congregations are aware of the importance of standing with those who are suffering and caring for their needs. Sharing resources is one concrete way to signal this awareness and desire to respond. The response is rooted in thankfulness and obedience to Christ. The underlying principles of compassion, mutual respect, partnership, and search for peace and justice for all people applies equally to the utilization of all MCC resources: people, money, food and material resources.
When is a material resource intervention necessary and appropriate?
In the event of a natural disaster, war or conflict, and economic and political injustices, emergency material aid intervention may be required for some communities. In addition to emergency relief and refugee settings, material resources may be appropriately used in institutions such as hospitals, orphanages and prisons, where people often depend on contributions to survive; to meet the needs of those among the poor who have the fewest resources; in development programs; and when material gifts are tangible ways to stand with people experiencing oppression, natural disaster or war.
What kind of material resource response is appropriate?
MCC places a priority on purchasing materials in-country or in the region if surpluses of appropriate commodities are available at prices comparable to world prices plus shipping expenses. Nearly all MCC responses will contain both locally purchased materials and resources sent from Canada, the United States, and Europe. Material resources will be shipped from Canada and the United States where MCC works in the following situations:
- Available materials in MCC material resource centres are culturally appropriate.
- Quality and quantity of materials given do not significantly disrupt the local market.
- Local partners requested materials and are part of the planning for distribution and use.
- Assistance is granted for a specific purpose and for a defined period of time.
Who determines the need, receives material resources, and implements material aid programs?
The local MCC partner agency takes the lead in designing, managing and implementing the material aid program together with the affected population.
Is material aid always a good thing?
A carefully planned material aid intervention can benefit the recipient and be a sign of God's caring and compassion for those affected by adverse conditions. Many who receive these gifts express thanks to the local partner, MCC and the church supporting MCC for thinking about them.
At the same time, sharing material resources, like sending personnel, food and dollars, remains challenging. When sharing material resources, one must work for equitable and appropriate distribution. Giving material resources can create long-lasting dependencies and put stress on local economic initiatives. For givers in Canada and the United States, sharing material resources must not be viewed as the panacea or only response called for by the church. Material resources are only part of the overall MCC response.