Charity doesn’t have to mean religion is involved, but for several religious charity groups across Halifax, faith is important to what their organizations do.
Bibles for Missions Thrift Store, located in Sackville, sells goods donated by the local community, and the profits go to the Bible League of Canada—a charity that develops churches in 47 countries, and brings services like bible literacy training to adults.
“They educate pastors, to ministers, to the community and it actually supports a new kind of infrastructure in the community. With the church of course comes giving, so it actually helps the community grow,” says Tanya Sanford, volunteer manager at Bibles for Missions.
Sanford believes that Christianity has a role to play in what their business does. “I think that it forms our work in a sense that we try to get together with a Christian heart and we try to support each other.”
There’s no requirement to be Christian to work at Bibles for Missions, but Sanford says volunteers who come “with a Christian heart” are usually the best volunteers, mainly because it makes them happier.
Eric Eagles, a volunteer at Bibles for Missions, believes there are long-term benefits to volunteering for a Christian cause.
“Well basically, as a Christian, I believe that what I’m doing has eternal rewards,” he says. Beyond the missionary work done abroad, he also finds rewards at home in the way everyone supports each other, through things like a prayer book, that anyone can write in and request prayer, anonymously or not.
“It’s a win-win situation for everybody,” he says.
For Sanford, part of the benefit comes from not having to repress her religious beliefs at work. “It’s great to be able to be a Christian, and live a Christian life, and express those Christian values, you know, and not feel ashamed or persecuted for it,” she says.
While Bibles for Missions ultimately donates their proceeds towards spreading Christianity, other religious charities in Halifax focus solely on humanitarian aid.
Islamic Relief operates both out of university campuses and across Canada. Islam is in their name, but they’re not looking to convert—and they don’t see themselves as a political group either, says Yasmin Abdulhussain, a member of the Dalhousie chapter of Islamic Relief.
“What they do is they go to aid anyone in need in the world. They do not look at religion, or ethnicity, or whatever your culture is,” she says. One of their main focuses is on helping orphans, an important group to care for according to Islam.
Instead of actively trying to teach the people they help about Islam, the group strives to promote their religion in other ways.
“We don’t promote anything against the religion obviously, but we promote Islam through helping, caring for each other, supporting each other, listening about what we have to have to say,” Abdulhussain says.
But the name sometimes throws people off.
“Unless we explain that, sometimes people kind of hesitate, but that’s not the general case,” says Hasan Sinan, another member of Islamic Relief.
Chalice, a Catholic charity and child sponsorship group in Nova Scotia, also has an answer ready for people who might hesitate at the idea of a Catholic charity, says fund development administrator Michael Hughes.
If there’s a concern, he says they tell people that “we help all children irrespective of religion.”
Catholicism, though, is still at the heart of what they do.
“Our organization, our goal, our mission is to bring Christ to the poor and the poor to Christ, so that mission guides everything we do as an organization, decisions we make, and it motivates us and our supporters to give and to make a difference in the world,” says Hughes.