When Ed Buller went to a World vision fundraiser a year ago, he expected to pull out his chequebook and make a donation, just as he always has.
Instead, the pastor of Winnipeg’s Filipino Heart of Worship International Church was inspired to do more.
Last September, Buller, 51, organized a walk that brought together 700 people from 13 Filipino churches. They raised $42,000 to provide clean water for people in the developing world through World Vision.
For his efforts, Buller received a Heroes for Children award from World Vision on Jan. 27 in Toronto.
The national award is given annually by the Christian relief, development and advocacy organization to people who have made the world a better place, especially for children. Buller was one of four people from across Canada to receive the recognition.
Buller was inspired to raise money for clean water after he heard about World Vision’s Walk for Water. The campaign asks people to walk six kilometres since that is the average distance people in the developing world, often children, have to walk to get water.
When they get there, the water is often not clean, which means many get sick and die.
When he heard that about 1,000 children in the developing world die each day due to water-borne illness, and that a donation of $50 would save a life by providing a person with clean water, he knew he had to do something.
The result was the first annual six-kilometre walk, which Buller organized. It raised enough to save the lives of 800 children.
For this year’s walk, Buller wants to double the amount to be raised. "We want to save the lives of 1,600 children," he said.
Helping others is his duty as a Christian, he said.
"I’m so blessed," he said. "God has blessed me with so much, including with clean water."
"Christ told his followers to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, give water to the thirsty," he shared. "This is a practical way to serve my Lord, a way to live out my calling."
As for being honoured with an award, he finds it a little awkward.
"I felt unworthy to receive it," he said. "It really belongs to all those who came out for the walk. I was just the pastor. The hard work was done by everyone who came out that day. They inspired me. They caught the vision and ran with it."
Chris Schroeder of World Vision Canada, who is based in Manitoba, says Buller is an inspiration.
"We are so grateful for Ed’s steadfast dedication and partnership in serving vulnerable children who face poverty and injustice," he said.
Buller is "a true changemaker in our community," he said. "We value his and the entire Heart of Worship International Church family’s commitment and generosity that help make our world a better place for children."
The church’s next Walk for Water will take place Sept. 12.
John Longhurst has been writing for Winnipeg's faith pages since 2003. He also writes for Religion News Service in the U.S., and blogs about the media, marketing and communications at Making the News.
The Free Press acknowledges the financial support it receives from members of the city’s faith community, which makes our coverage of religion possible.
Updated on Thursday, March 5, 2020 at 10:51 AM CST: fixes typo