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Hunger funds bring hope to Niger’s drought victims

NIAMEY, Niger (BP)–Pained by the desperation of hunger around them, Southern Baptist International Mission Board missionaries in Niger have begun distributing food — and the love of Jesus — to starving people in the West African country.
Last year’s harvest was the worst in the past 15 years. “Daily, we are confronted with starving people, and we have done our best with the resources we have, but we have watched as both adults and children die,” said missionary Brad Womble.
“We have seen old men and women get down on their knees to beg for food or give thanks for the little we have been able to give,” he said. “We have seen village chiefs sell their animals and possessions so their people could eat. We have watched as children wasted away and died.
“It has become a struggle at times to leave the house because we know that we will be faced by hunger,” he added.
Womble shared how two preaching points had been established in one village since the last time the hungry were helped there. “Please rest assured that the people will know it is the love of Jesus being shared, and they will have a chance to respond to that love,” he said.
“I know that they (the missionary team) will do all it takes to allow the gospel to pour forth with the grain.”
Partly because of increased giving to Southern Baptists’ World Hunger Fund this year, $135,450 was released in May for Zarma people living in rural areas around three villages and $337,500 was released in June for nearly 100,000 Haussa Muslims.
At $3.2 million, World Hunger Fund receipts through May were running nearly 30 percent more than what they were during the same period last year. At $4 million, appropriations were 136 percent higher than last year’s during the same period.
“Southern Baptists are a caring people, and they want to respond,” said Bill Cashion, human needs consultant for the International Mission Board. “They want to give the bread, but they want to give the Bread of Life, too. Their missionaries overseas are doing just that.
“There are very few things we are doing that evangelism is not a part of.”
At distribution spots among the Haussa, workers will show the evangelistic film, “Jesus,” and make Bibles and tracts available. They will use Bible storying concepts in four Haussa villages.
Emergency requests for food aid are pouring in, the result of the El Nino weather phenomenon this year, Cashion added. El Nino has brought drought to a number of countries in Africa, Central America and Asia and flooding to others.

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  • Steven S. Nelson