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Ending hunger and dependency in Zimbabwe...

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Ending hunger and dependency in Zimbabwe

Project(s): 91-721, 91-751, 91-806

Country/Region: ZIMBABWE

What happens when you farm in god’s way

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Typical contents of a food parcel. When a month's wages is needed to buy a loaf of bread, and desperate people even fry cotton bolls to eat, these food parcels have literally saved lives

God is wonderfully at work amongst and through His people in Zimbabwe, as they pray for their nation and seek His face in repentance. Despite everything they are buoyant, hopeful and trusting. Here we tell a good news story from Zimbabwe, a story in which Barnabas supporters play a key role.


It is a story of transformation, a story of doing what seems all but impossible. It is a story that begins with hunger, hopelessness and dependency and ends with self-sufficiency and faith renewed. It is a story that brings together Christians from Zimbabwe, South Africa and all around the world.

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This maize was grown according to traditional methods

Feeding

Through the generous giving of Barnabas supporters, a feeding programme to help some of the neediest of Zimbabwe’s hungry millions has now been expanded to assist around 1,500 families a month, that is, almost 15,000 people. The total amount of food sent to date amounts to over 358 tonnes. Yet each monthly food parcel costs only £15 and will help to feed 9 or 10 people of an extended family – that is just 5p per person per day.


Zimbabwe, once the bread-basket of Africa, has been so ravaged by the government of President Mugabe that it produces next to nothing in terms of food. This means that food must be brought in from neighbouring South Africa and taken to the churches and orphanages to distribute. This risky and arduous task is accomplished by teams of courageous South African Christians, giving their time voluntarily to help their suffering brothers and sisters, and taking turns to drive the food into Zimbabwe in their own cars.


But the need is so huge. How can people be enabled to sustain themselves? What about those whom the feeding programme cannot reach?

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Some of the agricultural trainers supported by Barnabas, in front of a crop of maize grown by the method they teach. They are as much evangelists as agricultural trainers, because “Farming God’s Way” transforms lives spiritually as well as practically

Farming

A Zimbabwe-based ministry called “Farming God’s Way” (now called “Foundations for Farming”) has developed a new method of farming which can easily increase yields ten-fold, sometimes far more. Not only is this method effective; it also does not need the heavy labour of traditional methods, because there is no ploughing. This means that even elderly widows or child-headed households can put it into practice.


The method depends on sowing the seed earlier, at the correct spacing, laying down a mulch, and keeping the crop well weeded.


Barnabas is helping to support this ministry, as they send out trainers to villages across Zimbabwe to teach the method. We are also providing seed for the first sowing by those who have been trained. “The seed was like … like jewels to them!” said a Christian who had been distributing it, as he struggled to find words to explain how precious the gift of seed for planting was to those who received it.

Faith

“Farming God’s Way” is based not only on tried and tested science but also on principles of Christian discipleship, for the method teaches people to be good stewards of God’s creation, doing everything on time, to a high standard, without wastage, and with joy. Learning to farm “God’s way” has brought many to a real and living personal faith in the Lord Jesus, and caused church attendance to soar.

Suffering for Christ in Zimbabwe

Last year a rural church was forcibly closed down by the government party’s militia, who occupied it and used it as a torture facility. The congregation, numbering about 30, were beaten and accused of many things, but continued to meet for worship at their pastor’s home whenever they could. But this was never possible on Sundays, because on Sundays they were ordered to attend indoctrination and re-education rallies. (Barnabas provided food parcels for this congregation.)

This is just one example of the anti- Christian persecution that forms part of the multi-faceted oppression characteristic of Zimbabwe in recent years. Church leaders who have called for justice or have opposed the government’s brutal policies in any way have been especially victimised, but ordinary church members have suffered too, as this example shows.

Fellowship

The feeding programme and the farming training are closely coordinated, as farming training is given to communities who are being fed. If people in a community have applied the method well and the first harvest is good, then the food parcels for that community can be gradually reduced and eventually stopped altogether. That makes more food parcels available for other communities who have not yet received any aid. These communities in turn can then receive the agricultural training until they too are self-sufficient and help can again be diverted elsewhere.

This partnership involves not only the South African Christians delivering the food, not only the Zimbabwean trainers, but also Barnabas supporters around the world whose giving helps to cover the costs of the food, seed and training. And everything is undergirded by prayer, turning partnership into fellowship in the body of Christ.

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Prayer and fellowship are vital elements of the work. “Let’s pray,” were the first words said to visitors from Barnabas by those taking the lead on encouraging the new farming method in their local communities

 

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This uncultivated land had to be painstakingly cleared by the church members using nothing but hand tools

Case study

One church congregation in Bulawayo joined together to clear a 4-acre plot of land, cutting down the trees and fencing it. Then they sowed it with maize seed provided by Barnabas Fund, and carefully tended the growing crop according to how “Farming God’s Way” trainers had taught them. Their very first harvest, in March 2009, was so plentiful that it could feed 50 families for a year. This church used to get food parcels, but now they are self-sufficient and can support themselves.

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Nearly ready for harvest – the church’s maize is twice the height of the crop of a nearby farmer who used the traditional methods
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The first cobs picked, roasted and eaten. The full harvest was enough to support 50 families


Related Links

Watch Barnabas Fund's Ending Hunger in Zimbabwe Video

Watch and listen to interviews from the Ending Hunger in Zimbabwe tour

Donate today to any of Barnabas Fund's Zimbabwe Appeals (project numbers 91-721, 91-751 or 91-806)


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    • In an earlier incident in Saisomboon village, three teenage Christian girls were disqualified from taking their final school examinations because of their faith. The village chief said that in following Christianity, Noi (15), Net (15) and Nut (14) had forfeited their right to education. Five families from the village have now converted to Christianity. A spokesman for Human Rights Watch for Lao Religious Freedom expressed the view that the authorities were trying to find every possible way “to stop the spread of Christian religious freedom in the area”. Pray that the girls will be allowed to complete their education and that opposition to the Christians in the village will cease. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed 19 hours ago

    • Five Christians have been charged with murder in Laos after a sick woman sought prayer at her local church, converted to Christianity and later died. Mrs Chan, from Saisomboon village in Savannakhet province, had been ill for two years when she approached the church. Her health improved for a short time, and she and her eight grown-up children came to faith in Christ. The sons and daughters wanted a Christian burial ceremony, but the authorities forbade this unless they renounced their faith, which they refused to do. When Christians in the area protested, five were arrested and subsequently charged with Mrs Chan’s murder. Pray that the God of justice will have compassion on His people (Isaiah 30:18) and ensure their acquittal from this false accusation. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Fri, Aug 2014 00:00

    • A Christian from Loynam village in the Savannakhet province of Laos was arrested on the morning of 29 May and tied to a post before being imprisoned. Two weeks earlier, police and village security officers had gone to Mr Sort’s home and threatened him with eviction from the village and confiscation of all his property if he did not give up his faith. He refused, despite repeated attempts to coerce him. The village chief then seized around £300 of Mr Sort’s money. Give thanks that our brother, who has been a Christian for less than two years, has stood firm in his faith, and ask the Lord to renew his courage and strength (1 Corinthians 16:13). Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Thu, Aug 2014 00:00

    • Iraqi Christians are losing even previously safe havens under the relentless assault of ISIS. On 25 June, the militant group attacked the historic Christian town of Qaraqosh, near Mosul, driving its mainly Christian population of around 40,000 to flee. Many Christians from Mosul had gone there after the fall of their own city earlier in the month. Kurdish forces were able to repel ISIS from the town, allowing some people to return to their homes for the time being, but their security remains extremely precarious. Pray that the ISIS advance will be stopped and that the Iraqi security forces will be able to regain the captured territory. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Wed, Aug 2014 00:00

    • Heavenly Father, we cry out to You for the Christians left in Mosul, mostly elderly and sick, as they now face the threat of sharia penalties introduced by ISIS: the amputation of limbs for thieves, crucifixion for criminals and the death penalty for apostasy. We pray that You will protect them from the brutality of the militants. We pray for peace and healing for those who have already been threatened or attacked, and for the safe return of those who have been kidnapped. We pray too for those struggling to pay the humiliating jizya tax that the militants have imposed. We ask that the attempt to restore a united Islamic state under one ruler in the cross-border territory controlled by ISIS will come to nothing. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Tue, Aug 2014 00:00

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