About MCIN and Food for the Hungry

Master’s Commission International Network

Master’s Commission was born in the heart of Larry Kerychuk as a place where people of all walks of life could come, grow in their relationship with Christ and lay a biblical foundation upon which a lifetime of service to God could be built and lived out. Pastor Kerychuk, with Pastor Carmen Balsamo as director, began the Master’s Commission program in 1984 in Phoenix, Arizona. Trainees pledged one year of their lives to scripture memory, the study of the word, and ministry. After Carmen’s death, Rev. Lloyd Zeigler was appointed director.

God has poured his blessing on Master’s Commission and given opportunity for multiplication in churches across the country and around the world. As the program spread from church to church the need arose for a network to be established to preserve the integrity and purity of heart with which this intense discipleship training program was created. In 1995, a group of Master’s Commission directors from across the nation held a meeting at the annual Master’s Commission Discipleship Conference and formed the Master’s Commission International Network. The MCIN is an affiliation of Master’s Commission programs who share the same heart and desire for character, integrity and discipleship. If a Master’s Commission program has been recognized by the MCIN, then it meets the standards and mirrors the original heart of this movement.

Master’s Commission International Network of Affiliates was formed to preserve the integrity and purity of the heart with which this intense discipleship-training program was created.  Our Mission is “To know God and to make Him known.”  It is the desire of the MCIN to help the local church raise up a generation of world changers, recklessly abandoned to the cause of Christ.  To do this, each Master’s Commission must be a ministry of a local church, not a para-church organization.  Master’s Commission is effecting a generation of young adults who are trained to reach a world with the Word of God as their foundation, prayer as their passion, and evangelism as their battle cry.

Food for the Hungry

The Food for the Hungry vision – “God called and we responded until physical and spiritual hungers ended worldwide” – represents action and advocacy for those about whom Jesus spoke when he quoted the prophet Isaiah in Luke 4:18, “He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed.” In a prayerful manner before God, we continue to ask God for great and bold impact in a world of incredible need.

Since the humble beginnings of Food for the Hungry in Glendale, California in 1971, God continues to call regular, ordinary people like our founder Dr. Larry Ward to help disclose to the world God’s passion and heart for the poor. Desiring His mercy and grace to go forward, God calls His followers to face outward to the world, connecting and drawing into service a sometimes inwardly-focused church and society. Food for the Hungry’s commitment to reveal God’s heart cry for the poor – remains unchanged. It is why He calls us, and it is why, by His grace, we respond to end physical and spiritual hungers worldwide.

Background / History: Food for the Hungry was founded in 1971 and gave birth to the ministry now at work in more than 26 countries worldwide. Since then, Food for the Hungry has boldly spoken out for and served the poor, sending courageous heroes to help communities transform themselves. Founder Dr. Larry Ward held to the simple premise that “they die one at a time, and so we can help them one at a time.” Again and again, we turn to the words from Scripture from which our name emerged, “He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry,” Psalm 146:7.

Food for the Hungry’s journey to being a leading Christian ministry – and one of the most efficient – has traversed different periods of growth and transformation:

1971-1980 Emergency Response / Disaster Relief

During the early years, the primary focus of Food for the Hungry was on responses to disasters and emergencies, providing immediate and practical relief help such as food, water, clothing, medical care and temporary shelter. Dr. Ward and his team were on-site and responding in key crises around the world, including:

1972: Relief in war-torn Bangladesh
1973: Earthquake relief in Managua, Nicaragua
1974: Emergency relief, “Great West African Drought”
1975: Assistance to Vietnam “boat people”
1976: Guatemala, Romania earthquake relief
1979: Assistance to southeast Asian refugees

During this time, the ministry’s headquarters was moved from California to Arizona, eventually incorporating a desert training center that, for about ten years, educated volunteers in sustainable field projects. Since then, much of the training has been relocated into field sites globally.

1981-1985 Relief and Long-term development

As Food for the Hungry responded to emergency relief situations, it forged strong local relationships and partnerships in fields around the world. In short, the ministry gained experience, a network and strong credibility for addressing longer-term assistance for meeting the needs of the poor. Hence, a new emphasis on long-term development work was established, helping poor communities improve their way of living through sustainable programs in areas such as education, agriculture, health, water, and leadership training.

In 1984, Dr. Ward handed over the leadership of the organization to Dr. Tetsunao Yamamori, a man who had personally experienced hunger and poverty as a child in Japan during World War II. Before coming to Food for the Hungry, Dr. Yamamori served at several academic institutions, one of which was Biola University in California, where he was a professor and director of intercultural studies.

1986-1993 Two Hungers

As Food for the Hungry grew under Dr. Yamamori’s leadership, the Biblical call to understand the symbiotic connection of both physical and spiritual hungers drove the ministry to deepen its relief responses while also stepping up efforts to implement development programs. As a result, many more impoverished individuals, families and communities experienced significant improvement in their way of life while also learning how to integrate spiritual truth into daily life.

1994-present Vision and Mission Imparted

In 1994, Food for the Hungry began to enter a new level of ministry with the leadership embracing and casting a unified vision to end physical and spiritual hungers around the world. Food for the Hungry staff and volunteers put this vision into action by defining the building blocks or “backbone” of every developing country: the local community! The Vision and Mission became increasingly imparted and distributed at a grassroots level. Operational plans formed around three primary parts of each community:

  • Churches,
  • Leaders
  • Families

The collective plans for helping communities reach their God-given potential continue to undergird the ministry of Food for the Hungry today.

As Dr. Yamamori retired in February 2001, a new team of leaders served the ministry’s advancement in different ways. Outstanding teachers like Randall L. Hoag, David Collins (in Canada) and Darrow Miller helped train the ministry’s leaders and implementers. Dwight Vogt, serving in a various key positions, helped integrate Biblical truth into field work, as did Dave Evans from his role in Washington, D.C. In 2001, Benjamin Homan was named President and Chief Executive Officer of Food for the Hungry, Inc. (United States). Homan came to Food for the Hungry after serving as vice president at Covenant Theological Seminary and its Francis Schaeffer Institute. Under his leadership, Food for the Hungry has more than doubled in size while reaffirming its vision and also articulating its mission as “to walk with churches, leaders and families in overcoming all forms of human poverty by living in healthy relationship with God and His creation”. Based on this mandate, the ministry intensified its outreach to people of all ages, rallying them and training them – even in full college semester programs and internships – to speak out and serve with the poor around the world.

Serving in a more complex world has also allowed Food for the Hungry to see other key leaders emerge. Greg Vestri, initially as a board member and later as the head of the ministry’s international arm, has provided steady management of change and has called the ministry to align, excel and scale. Greg Vestri’s background in international business and as a partner in the global consulting firm Accenture has added important management processes and perspectives to a ministry that spans the world.

God has also raised up important voices from the global south who speak into Food for the Hungry’s identity. These include Luis Noda of Bolivia and Debbie Toribio of the Philippines. Also, Peter Mawditt, Roger Zurcher, Keith Wright, John Marsden and Dwight Jackson represent keen thinkers about how to bring a Biblical perspective to bear on all that we do – both in the field operations and in the processes that we use everyday.

The Lord has permitted staff members to speak before Prime Ministers and Presidents, school teachers and custodians – and we do so as representatives of the God who has issued us a clarion call. The prophet Micah said it this way, “He has showed you…what is good and what does the Lord require of you, but to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with your God,” Micah 6:8. Micah’s words are but one of many of God’s instructions summarized in the compelling vision:

God called and we responded until physical and spiritual hungers ended worldwide.

As a result of that call and by the grace of God across nearly forty years, Food for the Hungry has been a witness of the transformation of whole families and communities around the globe. We have “helped them one at a time,” and for that privilege, we are both joyful and humbled.

In reading this history of Food for the Hungry, our prayer is that you would be motivated yourself to a definitive and passionate response. Can we count on you to join us in responding? That is our prayer.