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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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  • Pray for Barnabas Fund partners in South Sudan who have been supporting Christians forced from their homes by violence. Conflict between supporters of President Salva Kiir and his sacked deputy Riek Machar in December and January displaced around 860,000 people. Churches were burned down and a number of pastors killed, while many people lost their belongings and were left destitute. Give thanks that churches in and around the capital, Juba, were able to provide food and other essentials to many families with help from Barnabas. Pray that they may continue to be salt and light in their country at this unstable time (Matthew 5:13-16), and that it will soon be safe for displaced Christians to return home. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed 21 hours ago

  • Pray for the residents of a mainly Christian village in Borno state, Northern Nigeria, in the aftermath of a horrific attack by Boko Haram militants on 15 February. Ask for God’s comfort for the relatives and friends of the 106 people in Izghe who were gunned down and slaughtered in their houses or in the open as they tried to flee. Pray for strength for the numerous residents who were wounded or whose properties were looted and torched. Pray too for the many Christians who fled into the neighbouring state after the attack, and ask that the Christian community in the North of Nigeria will be preserved in the face of Islamist violence. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Tue, Apr 2014 00:00

  • Violent attacks by militants from the Islamist group Boko Haram continue unabated in Northern Nigeria. On one horrendous day of violence on 26 January, at least 138 people were killed. A church in Wada Chakawa village in Adamawa state was targeted; the attackers locked the congregation inside and then detonated bombs, shooting and cutting the throats of people who tried to escape. They then went on a four-hour rampage in the village. Later the same day, Kawuri village in neighbouring Borno state was burned to the ground. Boko Haram is fighting to establish an Islamic state, and Christians are among its main targets. Pray that the Nigerian authorities will succeed in containing its insurgency. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Mon, Apr 2014 00:00

  • Almighty God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we give You thanks on this Easter Day for the living hope that You have given us and all Your people through the resurrection of Jesus from the dead (1 Peter 1:3). We pray that the prospect of an enduring inheritance and future salvation will encourage our persecuted brothers and sisters to persevere in their faith, whatever may happen to them. We pray that we too may be sustained by this hope in the sufferings that we experience for the sake of Christ. We ask that the joy and resurrection power of the Lord will give strength and peace to persecuted believers today and every day. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sun, Apr 2014 00:00

  • Give thanks for the Christ-like responses of Christian leaders in CAR to the crisis that threatens them and their churches. They have distanced themselves from the anti-balaka militias, saying that these should not be labelled as Christian and that they hold no mandate from the churches. The leaders have also condemned the violence in the country, whatever its origin, and have called on Christians to pursue forgiveness, reconciliation and healing. Churches are hiding, defending and caring for thousands of Muslims endangered by the anti-balaka, and one of CAR’s most senior church leaders has invited the president of the country’s Islamic community to move into his church compound. Pray that this powerful witness to the grace and love of Christ will help to bring peace to the shattered country. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sat, Apr 2014 00:00

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