Message from Magnus: the joy and tears of Mary’s Meals

Our founder Magnus reflects on some emotional experiences from his recent visit to the USA and Canada. 

Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow
Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow
Founder and Global Chief Executive

Back to all stories | Posted on 07 Oct 2016 in News Update from Magnus

“Do you cry sometimes when you meet the children?” asked a wide-eyed boy in the front row.

“Yes, sometimes I do,” I answered.

I had just given a talk to the pupils of Clear Water Academy in Calgary, Canada. They have been fundraising for Mary’s Meals in amazing ways for some time and it was deeply moving to see and hear their enormous compassion for children experiencing hunger in faraway places. 

I had arrived in Canada the day before from the Christ Our Life Conference in Des Moines, Iowa, in the USA – my fourth time at this event, attended once again by thousands of people in the impressive Wells Fargo Arena. By now my visits to Iowa feel like some kind of happy homecoming. Everywhere I went, people in Mary’s Meals T-shirts approached me with humbling stories of the part they play in our mission.

Throughout the weekend conference, our little stall, manned for long hours by heroic local volunteers, many of them children, was surrounded by a throng of excited supporters. While I spent my time signing hundreds of copies of The Shed That Fed A Million Children (the book I wrote about the story of Mary’s Meals), the rest of the team tried to keep up with the demand for the range of beautiful, locally-designed Mary’s Meals T-shirts.

On one rare break, I checked my phone to see that my wife Julie had sent me a picture she had just spotted on Facebook of Mirjana Soldo (one of the visionaries in Medjugorje) wearing one of the T-shirts that I had been admiring on the stall in front of me.

I was struck by the timing because on my flight from Scotland I had devoured Mirjana’s autobiography, My Heart Will Triumph – not only one of the most amazing books I’ve ever read, but Mirjana has chosen to donate a part of every sale to Mary’s Meals! In fact, her book, and the accompanying film Apparition Hill, seemed to be a topic of conversation at the many events I attended across the US and Canada those few days because a large cinema chain had just decided to screen the film.

Back at the stall, a smiling man approached me.

“I’m a janitor at a school here. I used to give 10% of my income to charity. I just decided today, when I heard you give that presentation about Mary’s Meals, to make it 15%. Thank you!” He smiled then disappeared back into the crowd.

About an hour later another man approached me. I noticed he was crying.

“I stopped working overtime a while back. I just decided I am going to start again – and every penny overtime I earn will go to Mary’s Meals,” he said.

It’s not just the children who eat Mary’s Meals who bring tears to my eyes.