Published: 00:00 GMT Daylight Time - Thursday 15 October 2009
Ending hunger and dependency in Zimbabwe
Project(s): 91-721, 91-751, 91-806
What happens when you farm in god’s way
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.
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?
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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)