Saturday, August 27, 2016

Famine relief food distribution

Silas was loving all the excitement of food distribution day!
On Tuesday we were blessed to be able to see God at work in a mighty way. We watched in amazement as each home in our village of Obule received a 100 kgs. bag of maize flour. There were a couple months of prayer, planning, financial support, and logistics that went into making a food distribution of this scale possible. To get you up to speed on why a food distribution was even necessary you need to know that the majority of farmers in Uganda are one bad/missed rainy season away from famine. This year we've experienced drought throughout Uganda and much of East Africa. Most farmers are subsistence farmers so they grow what their family needs to eat and survive with little surplus. If there is a surplus that food is sold and the money used for school fees, medical expenses, and household needs. In drought, there is no yield so no crops so no food and certainly no surplus to be sold, so people have to buy food. Buying food is much more expensive than growing your own, but most folks are cash strapped. The drought has led to famine. In our area, homes are down to eating one meal a day and money to buy food is quickly becoming exhausted.

It took three truckloads to get all the food from town to the Obule church
Packing the food in the church. The church leaders spent two nights sleeping with
the bags of flour protecting them from theivery. 

God is always at work around us, and through an intimate relationship with Him He invites us to join Him in the work is doing or planning to do. As we take a step of faith in obedience and align our lives to His will, we get to see Him work through us and around us in mighty ways. The recent food distribution was one of those experiences where we and the community got to see God at work. Feeding a village for a month is an undertaking larger than any of us, and larger than our local church. But God is certainly big enough and He allowed us to join Him in supplying material needs to several thousand hungry individuals.

People waiting patiently for their bag of posho flour
As the church leaders began discussions on how we to help the village, we began with prayer - lots of prayer, and God led the church leadership to try and provide a month's worth of food for the village. Roughly 600 homes are in the area. No one had done anything like this before and we at times felt overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of the need and what was required to feed this many folks. Each home would receive 100 kgs. (220 lbs.) of maize flour that can be cooked as porridge or posho. Assuming each home has about 8 individuals we were looking at 4800 mouths to feed for a month. Personally I had some fear and trepidation as I focused on all that could go wrong, but a wise friend  helped me to remember that God does not give us a spirit of fear but of power and love (2 Timothy 1:7), and He was calling us to love our neighbors.
Ojok and Amos were two of the helpers that hauled hundreds of heavy bags for folks

66 tons of maize flour is not cheap, but numerous friends and churches were willing to assist with the purchase of the food. We are so grateful for your generosity. This would not have been possible without the financial assistance of so many. Once the call for help went out, you answered and within a week or so we were able to go to town and buy the 600 bags of flour needed. On the day of the distribution people walked, biked, and motorcycled from around the village and were at the church long before I was. Our friend Josh was able to share The Gospel with the crowd as they waited to receive their food. By 8 a.m. teams of helpers were calling names and handing out the bags. As people received their bag they loaded them onto the backs of bicycles and motorcycles and ferried them off to their homes. It was quite a sight to see a multitude of people milling around, visiting, and patiently waiting for their name to be called. Everything was so organized and efficient. None of the fears I'd had weeks before came to anything. So many people, so much excitement and joy, and so much relief as people knew they had food for awhile anyway. It was amazing to see. God allowed us to witness and play a role in a modern miracle as He fed a multitude.

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It was a steady stream of boda bodas (motorcycle taxis) ferrying people's food
to their homes and back to the church for another run.
There was so much joy on so many faces. Numerous people came up to me and exclaimed how good God is and were thanking Him. Our friend Dan said something to me the day before the distribution that really stuck with me. He said "Tomorrow will change the way people pray." I took that to mean after the distribution people's prayers will turn from crying out to God to help them to prayers of praise and thanksgiving as they saw God work to meet their needs. People saw God's love for them.

We continue to pray for rain because people are in desperate need of a good growing season going into the long dry season that typically lasts from December to April. This food distribution will temporarily alleviate some of the strain families feel during this season of famine, but we need rain. Please pray along with us.

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