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From art college to feeding the hungry

From art college in Wales to heading up a Christian aid and development charity – Gwyn Williams of Feed The Hungry UK tells his story …

"My background is as varied as a bag of pick-a-mix, with my younger years spent living in a small village in Wales. My upbringing was very stable, but out of kilter with my desire to go to art college, helped when my careers advisor literally blew the dust off an application form for an art college in Wrexham!

"At college I found the freedom to express myself, overpowering any sense of faith. God became very much a backseat onlooker to a life driven by self- discovery, until in 1981 somebody asked me why there was no colour in my art, which got me thinking.

"In a small bedsit in Middlesbrough, I dug out a Bible and started to read it again – with the result that I gave my life to Christ.

"From that point, my life became a rollercoaster driven by the desire to succeed in family, church and work, and in the mix work came out on top, born of a desire to want to be noticed and to succeed.

"My life became a performance – a search for status. I had great opportunities to work with some of largest corporate companies in the world, and to be part of teams working on projects in Royal palaces, dining with princes, mayors and business moguls.

"Yet nothing was ever enough, and I found myself driven to exhaustion.

"Stress and anxiety became my closest companions, encouraging me to strive even deeper for ‘it’ that always seemed just around the corner.

"Through the patience of my family and friends, and above all a God who had never let me go, I started to realise that success and ambition were but fleeting wisps that you can never hold onto.

"Having prayed and thought long and hard about it, my wife Lorraine and I took the step of down-sizing to be open to God for his plans and purposes for our lives.

"Out of blue I was invited to join Feed The Hungry (founded by Lester Sumrall in 1987) as their Operations Manager in the UK, to work with a dedicated team to bring aid relief to disaster zones, and to establish feeding programmes in partnership with pastors, churches and ministries across the globe.

"The charity aims to bring hope into communities that are either shunned, forgotten or downtrodden.

"To experience real joy in the faces of the children that I met in the slums of Kibera (Kenya) at receiving a bowl of rice and beans, is something else. But to know it makes a real difference in the long term is incalculable.

"At Feed the Hungry we partner with projects on a long-term basis to ensure that we provide a platform for growth. At Kibera we have partnered with Pastor Chris Okumu since 1995 and have seen the Soweto Academy become one of the highest ranking schools in Kenya.

"Our goals this year are to establish new programmes in Sierra Leone, the Congo and Bulgaria and to extend our Every Child Every Day feeding program from more than 31,000 to reach our target of 100,000."

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