by Joy Casey

“The starving is very acute,” lamented missionaries and local leaders as they gratefully unloaded the bags of maize procured from the generous donations of our friends.  Four Muslim villages received food aid in June, July and August; every month the need has become more desperate.  In August 1,600 families each were given 40 pounds of life-sustaining maize, but there were many more who left without anything.

Having compassion for their neighbors and knowing what it is like to be hungry, Christ-followers immediately tithed a portion of their maize to the church to be distributed to those who didn’t receive food.  Muslims who witnessed this also began bringing to the church some of what they were given.  With these gifts, missionaries were able to give about 11 pounds of grain to despairing families who got nothing.

During this last food distribution, our Director of Evangelism, Pastor Zerihun, took time to visit a hard-to-reach village where we are building a church.   He was stunned at the condition of the people there.  The man who donated land for the church to be built on was in bed with his wife and children, all weak and listless due to food depravation.  Pastor Zerihun managed to get bags of corn to feed about 10 families, but he is deeply concerned how the people there will survive without intervention.

Out of crisis comes opportunity to demonstrate God’s love and the Christ-followers in these villages have been emboldened to tell their families and neighbors about the certainty of hope Jesus offers based on His righteousness, not theirs.  Many, in all four villages, are listening and asking questions and some are dedicating their lives to Jesus.  The small church plants are rapidly growing!

Over the summer in one village, 47 Muslims (23 just in August) have moved from Allah to Jehovah, the Quran to the Bible, from Muhammad to Yeshua.  Some followers of Islam won’t step into the church, but sit outside, listening.

Another village reported that since receiving food support the last several months, no deaths have been reported!  Food has softened hearts and our missionary there said Christians have an unprecedented opportunity to engage people with the Good News.  The church (a grass hut) has burst its seams with 180 converts.

Mosque leaders are alarmed and are warning people to stay away from Christians.  Even so, many Muslims quietly express to church leaders how grateful they are for the presence of the church that not only teaches their youngsters how to read but also saves their lives with food.  In one large village, 205 people have converted and many more are interested, but fear of the mosque and pressure from the community hold them back.

The Office of Agriculture for the area informed us that the rain came too late and the crops for this harvest period will not produce sufficient food.  The corn stalks look tall and green, but when our country manager examined the plants, there were no ears of corn, only leaves.

Our country manager was asked to communicate this note from the government leaders to NewLife Ethiopia and all who support the ministry:

We the Administration of the area, the Social Affairs office and the surrounding villages’ administrators will extend our heartfelt gratitude to your donors and to your organization. Your extraordinary support during this very hard drought time saves many people from death, your support was holistic and you served us without any delineation with religion and tribe. We thank you very much indeed from our bottom of the heart. 

NewLife Ethiopia will send what support we can for the remote village Pastor Zerihun visited.  If you will offer your fishes and loaves, we are confident God will miraculously provide sufficient food for these people.  100% of what you donate will purchase food.

One 220 lb. bag of maize = $80 and will feed 2 to 3 families for one month.