MALI, West Africa (BP)--In the Bambara culture, pride often prevents people from admitting they're hungry. But evidence abounds. Mud-wall granaries stand empty. Five-year-old Mariama* sprouts reddish fuzz on top of her head -- a sign of malnutrition.
MALI, West Africa (BP)--New believers who recently started meeting as a young church in the Mali bush were angry. Starving farmers in the area were about to receive 500 tons of free grain to help feed their families until the next harvest. But the Christians wanted more grain than everyone else. After all, they argued, Christians from the United States were sending the grain through the Southern Baptist World Hunger Fund. Why wouldn't they feed their own first? "The palm tree is a bad tree," the new Christians told International Mission Board worker Steven Roach, using a Bambara proverb. "It casts its cooling shade far from its roots. Don't be like the palm tree. The [non-Christians] are laughing at us." Roach, who has worked among the Bambara for the last five years, hoped to use the opportunity to strengthen the disgruntled new believers in the teachings of Christ. In fact, Roach expected their reaction. "Any project like this is going to face some issues," Roach said, "but when they told me they were eating the weeds on the side of the road, I knew I had to do something anyway." In the last 18 months, Roach enlisted help from Beulah Baptist Church in Hopkins, S.C., which has sent teams repeatedly to help the village church grow. Pastor Brad Bessent brought a team to help facilitate the food distribution, but at night, he gathered the new believers for a moonlit Bible story under the stars. By the glow of a lantern, Bessent put two sardines and five pieces of bread on a plate. Through a translator, he told about a young boy who had packed this small lunch, but when he heard about all the hungry people nearby, he gave it to Jesus to distribute. Jesus multiplied that food and fed more than 5,000 people. "Not all of them were Christians," Bessent told the Bambara men, "but Jesus had compassion on them." The believers listened intently, the lantern throwing shadows into the creases of their pensive faces. "So if I give to God what I have, He can make it more than if I kept it for myself," said one believer.
[QUOTE@right@150=Some 3.5 million meals were served to North America's hungry in 2007, and as a result 35,000 professions of faith were recorded throughout the continent.]ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)--With unemployment and consumer food prices rising, gasoline costs at near-record levels and the possibility of more job layoffs looming on the horizon, business is sadly booming for the 1,500 domestic hunger ministries that receive support from the Southern Baptist World Hunger Fund.
HENDERSONVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--If a church's giving is down, conflict is up and baptisms are nonexistent -- and the pastor has tried everything he can think of to remedy the problem -- Steve Nelson has a suggestion.