Forty Years and Counting

As followers of Christ, we’re called to love our neighbours in a radical and unworldly way. Active compassion is not only one of the values of the Fellowship movement but a focal point for FAIR (Fellowship Aid and International Relief) as it strives to facilitate and channel the humanitarian relief and justice efforts of local Fellowship churches to the hurting world. This focus is not a new development, but goes back to its formation.

FAIR was launched after a devastating tidal wave hit Bangladesh in 1974. At the urging of Fellowship International missionary Dr. Howard Searle the ministry was established as an arm of the Foreign Mission Board. The initial priorities were to provide relief in the event of emergency situations, and to develop long- and short-term projects.

In that first year, $30,000 was raised to assist those in need. Over the years, the number and size of projects grew, and this prompted the appointment of Colin Butcher as FAIR Coordinator in 1990. In 1999, Norman Nielsen took over the responsibility for FAIR. Drawing from his time as a Fellowship International missionary in Colombia, Norman brought a wealth of experience and administrative skill. FAIR continued to become a major component of the Fellowship’s profile. Through the generosity of God’s people FAIR has provided support to more than 35 countries.

In 2015, FAIR celebrated 40 years of hands-on compassionate ministry as part of the legacy of Fellowship International. It also hit a new milestone in its history. FAIR was elevated to department status in January 2015 and now has its own Director, Dan Shurr. FAIR’s mission is to alleviate human suffering and address social injustice as the key channel through which Fellowship churches can provide humanitarian aid in Christ’s name.

Dan’s vision for the future of FAIR is “Partnerships, partnerships, partnerships”! This is outlined in FAIR’s strategic document manual. A specific example would be our new partnership with International Justice Mission. We now learn and help to protect the poor, bring criminals to justice and restore survivors to safety and strength. But we not only partner with like-minded organizations but with Fellowship churches, helping them fulfill the purpose God has called them to “on mission.”

To show what kind of reaction and traction FAIR has received recently from our churches, here are a few examples from recent appeals:

  • Boston Baptist Church heard of the need in D. R. Congo, Africa. They invited Director Dan Shurr to speak and present the project. This church gave one of the largest offerings FAIR has received.
  • Moved by the Syrian refugee crisis, here are three churches that responded rapidly to the urgent need:
  • Bramalea Baptist in Bramalea, Ontario contributed a large donation to our efforts.
  • Forward Church in Cambridge, Ontario visited Cedar Home in Lebanon to gain an understanding of the refugee crisis. Upon their return a plan was put in place to raise $100,000 and discover those willing to help settle refugee families.
  • An elder at Fellowship Baptist in Whitehorse, Yukon opened his rental property to a family of ten Syrians that the City of Whitehorse is sponsoring. They raised over $27,000 for this family and provided furnishings. They may sponsor additional refugees.