“Feed My Sheep”

UPDATE: The thoughts below cite 2021 data. Here’s the 2022 report.

Jesus appeared to his disciples, after his death and gave a powerful message, delivered in a poignant way. The short version of the message was “feed my sheep”. Given Christ’s ministry before, during, and after his mortal life, I believe “feed my sheep” refers to selfless service to feed the body, mind, heart, and soul of all our fellow travelers on the earth.

Striving to follow Jesus’s command, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its members “feed his sheep” in a variety of ways. In 2021, there was a lot of physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual “hunger” in the world. This official report outlines some of those efforts. What’s below is a summary, strictly by the numbers.

“Feed My Sheep”, by the numbers:

  • $906,000,000 in expenditures
    • Humanitarian projects
    • Fast-offering assistance
    • Bishop’s storehouse orders
    • Donated commodities
    • Donated clothing
    • Church operations (Deseret Industries, employment centers, Family Services, farms & food-processing)
  • 6,800,000 hours volunteered
    • Service at church facilities (D.I., farms, orchard, canneries, etc.)
    • Missions to care for those in need
    • Community service projects
  • 3,909 humanitarian projects
  • 188 countries and territories served (out of 195)
  • 62,000 Just Serve volunteers
  • 11,329 welfare and self-reliance missionaries
  • 9,054 Deseret Industries associates served
  • 58,981,915 pounds of goods recycled
  • 39,835 furniture items manufactured
  • 270 Deseret Industries community grants
  • 137,458 participants in 14,984 self-reliance groups
  • 304,405 people served in 145,600 addiction recovery meetings in 30 countries and 17 languages
  • 189,994 Family Services counseling sessions
  • 1,740,000 people helped through 114 clean water and sanitation projects in 47 countries
  • 104 food security projects worldwide
  • 135 mobility projects in 57 countries
  • 25 maternal and newborn care projects in 18 countries
  • 28 vision projects in 24 countries
  • 200 total healthcare and disability initiatives worldwide
  • 7 campaigns to end diseases such as diabetes, polio, and measles
  • 199 emergency response projects in 61 countries
  • 1,000,000,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses
  • 585 COVID-19 projects in 76 countries
  • 320,000 food baskets to feed 1,000,000 Brazilians impacted by COVID-19
  • 100,000 blood units from 3,000+ blood drives
  • 55,000 Afghanistan refugees assisted
  • 17,000 trees planted in Ghana and Kyrgyzstan
  • 95,538 meals packed for children in Haiti, Philipines, and Utah
  • 1880 wheelchairs and 1,166 walking aids delivered in South Africa and Paraguay
  • 310 Hawaiian families grew crops to support their families through COVID-19, on the Church farm
  • 60 missionaries dispatched to serves areas with massive flooding in Europe
  • 600,000 students educated in more than 180 countries
  • 35,000 vision screenings and 1,500 cataract surgeries in Mozambique
  • 80 million pounds of food donated worldwide

What’s not included in this report?

A lot, actually. The Church doesn’t know everything that local wards, branches, stakes, and missions do that would be classified as humanitarian aid. It doesn’t touch what individuals do with other non-profit organizations, inspired by their religion but not sponsored by it. It also avoids mentioning many details of strictly financial donations given to various organizations around the world.

The biggest “feed my sheep” service missing from this report, however, are the efforts to feed the spirit beyond the humanitarian efforts above. Feeding the spirit is probably what Christ was referring to on the shores of the sea of Tiberias more than anything and this report doesn’t address that.

Frankly, I’m not sure how one would measure “feed my sheep, spiritually” efforts. There are dozens of programs within local units, serving all people of all ages, races, and genders. There are callings that require a few minutes a month and callings that consume 40+ hours per week. There are 16,805,400 members, most of whom serve in their local wards, stakes, and/or temples. There’s official church service and then there’s personal ministry, directed by the Spirit.

Ultimately, the numbers don’t matter except that they represent individuals blessed, served, “fed”. Jesus fed “the one” everywhere he went. He observed needs through his senses, including spiritual senses. He customized his service to each, based on where they were and what they needed. He saw each person wholly–strengths, accomplishments, weaknesses, and failures. He saw each physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual need. His eyes were always on his personal mission and he served accordingly.

With that example, He asks each of us, “Lovest thou, me?” and follows up our answer to Him with His invitation to “Feed my lambs. Feed my sheep. Feed my sheep.”

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