Chapter 24 » 24.31

Practical expressions of our peace testimony

Relief of suffering

Through the organisation of international work camps and social projects, Friends have sought to combine their ministry of relief with their ministry of reconciliation:

There are no barriers of race, national feeling, custom, climate or culture which cannot be broken down by the method of Woolman and St Francis – the method of self-identification with the need of the poorest, even in distant lands, by means of hard manual work done at his side for his benefit. It remains to apply this method, and this idealism, to the international situation in Europe today… The influence of such work will no doubt be entirely negligible as regards the international situation, as the influence of Woolman seemed to be in his own lifetime… But failure does not matter. All that matters is that the right way should be tried; and if the Christian religion means anything at all, the right way is the way of self-identification with the poorest, the way of appeal to the friendliness in others by means of active and practical friendliness in ourselves, the way of unostentatious service… The original international fellowship of Christianity was founded in this way, as barriers of every kind – language, nationality, race, sex, class – were broken down through the literal following of the command for this august sacrament of menial service, as instituted by Christ at his last supper with his disciples.

John S Hoyland, 1936

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