As a Christ-centred aid and development organisation, our reading of the Christian Scriptures and current developmental theory inform and guide our practices as we work with local Christian Partners.
In August 1959, a small group of Australian Baptists gathered in Perth with a single purpose. They wanted to respond to the horrors of the previous decades and came from various parts of the country full of vision and concern. They knew that they’d been called to care for some of the world’s most vulnerable in the aftermath of WWII’s many humanitarian crises.
Over the course of those few days, they prayed and talked and strategized until, finally, they felt sure of their mission. Later, they described that gathering like this:
‘In many parts of the world, after World War II, there were refugees, victims of national strife, poor, hungry, sick, and dispossessed people, all waiting for help. Their problems remained, even though the War had ended, and had grown in number and diversity. The whole concept of Aid, by this time in 1959, had taken on new expressions and more and more emphasis was being placed on longer-term solutions, which looked beyond the immediate demands for emergency relief toward development and self help programmes.’
The group passed a visionary resolution and the Australian Baptist World Aid and Relief Committee was born. Today this is Baptist World Aid Australia.
Although the story began as far back as the 1920s when Australian Baptists began caring for victims of war, refugees and new migrants here and around the world, Baptist World Aid Australia grew into the church’s national action body. Before and since, we have been the channel through which people can respond to times of disaster, suffering and great need throughout the world. All with a vision for long term solutions and change.
It is of course part of a much larger past where people of faith have brought hope and change to the world. As an extension of their faith, Christians throughout history can be credited with starting hospitals, palliative care, food programs for the poor, assistance for the disabled, accessible medical care, and social advocacy for society’s most marginalised.
It’s been people of faith who have built schools for impoverished children and spearheaded refugee resettlement efforts. Even our political system was designed to give the oppressed a voice, a clear influence of Christianity’s outward focus. The idea that ordinary people deserve freedom and opportunity to flourish is a uniquely Christian idea.
Joining this great tradition of faith in action, and building on the vision of our founders, we at Baptist World Aid Australia now have what some call an audacious goal: ‘to end poverty so that all people can enjoy the fullness of life as God intends.’
In addition to our history, our theology of development anchors our work, decisions, prayers and action:
Specifically, we believe the biblical storyline gives expression to a remarkable vision of ‘development’. As described in the creation narrative in Genesis 1-3, God’s intentions are for the emergence of a world filled with healthy, vibrant creatures living in safe, just, participatory, welcoming and equitable communities and lovingly engaged with God their Creator.
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Baptist World Aid helps Australians tackle the injustice of global poverty. See our Vision, Mission and Theology of Development.