Every second Saturday, families from the Sikh Society of Calgary, a Sikh Temple in southwest Calgary, arrive at our shelter to cook dinner.
A dozen volunteers fill our kitchen with the sound of laughter, talking and cooking.
It began 14 years ago when a group of families decided to put in to practice one of their faith’s fundamental preaching – serve the poor and the needy. Paul Chawla, one of the volunteers, says “the Sikh religion preaches that all human beings are the creatures of one God and if you want to serve the God then serve those in need, regardless of their creed.”
Every Sunday, the tradition at the temple is that every Sunday when there is a gathering a meal is prepared for those attending. Generally one family takes on the responsibility to bring the food and prepare the meal. Anyone can partake. A group of families decided to continue the tradition outside of their Temple and reach out of wider Calgary community. Chawla says “the group became aware of the amazing work being done by The Mustard Seed Ministry to serve the vulnerable section of the Calgary population and wanted to make a modest contribution.”
The volunteer group started with four families, but over the years it has expanded. Now, volunteers come from 20 different families and range in age from older children to seniors.
Chawla says the commitment to volunteerism is a great way to demonstrate to children and teenagers the meaning of compassion, gratitude and understanding. Chawla says he reminds the young volunteers, “you have a room, a home…here are people who don’t have a place to call your home”.
While The Mustard Seed is a Christian-based organization, Chawla says that is in no way a barrier. He says in the Sikh faith a fundamental belief is to “serve the needy” – a belief that inspires us here at The Mustard Seed too.
Acts 20:35 “In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”