Originally published in Western Recorder – www.westernrecorder.org
Louisville—Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief spent 10 days in October delivering food to those in need midst the drought and subsequent famine in Lesotho.
At the beginning of 2016, a two-year-long drought led to famine. The four-member team was the third team sent by Kentucky DR this year to assist IMB missionaries Jim and Teresa Flora. This trip, they reached about 11 villages.
Baptist Global Relief provided the Flora’s with funds to distribute food. The missionaries have been focusing on helping “particularly vulnerable” people, including child-headed families, the elderly, or widows, said Coy Webb, Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief director.
He explained, “In these rural mountain villages, when the crops fail, there is no backup plan. They have no food. If they have a little livestock, they can sell their livestock. There just aren’t many other options. Most are subsistence farmers.”
The food packages included a 28-pound bag of cornmeal, four pounds of dried beans, a small salt box, box of beef bouillon cubes, a small box of mutton flavoring, a small bag of shelled peanuts, and a bottle of cooking oil–enough food to last each family a month, when the Floras would bring more.
“Before we would give them the food, we’d tell them that it didn’t come from their government or the United States government. It came from God, through people in the United States who heard about their family and wanted to help them,” George Chinn, Disaster Relief team leader, said.
“After that, we would tell them a Bible story to demonstrate some characteristic of God, and someone would tell them the gospel message,” he continued. “We didn’t ask for professions of faith because they were the type of people who would want to please you, but we did present the gospel message. Then, we would present the food to them.”
In addition to the food packages, they delivered hospice buckets and helped at an orphan care center.
“We’ve seen several come to Christ through our teams, but more importantly, I think it’s opening doors for the Floras in the villages and opened some doors into unreached villages,” Webb said. He shared that in one village there were no believers, and now, because of famine relief efforts, there are at least four.
Webb added, “I think the Floras see it as an incredible way to open doors to the gospel, but to also give integrity to the gospel. They’ve been sharing for a long time in the mountains, and the Lesotho people are still a very unreached people group in the mountains. So, it’s just another opportunity to share Christ with people.”
Pat Callan, a Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief volunteer, added, “Because they see that Christians care about them and are giving them food, they’re more welcome to the gospel. It’s something that’s hard for them to do, but they are responding.
“The missionaries there, they are awesome. They have so much to do, and there’s no way they can get all of it done without teams coming in,” she said. “It’s really been important that Kentucky has been able to send teams to help. It was an awesome experience. I’m so glad I went.”
Although they’ve been trying to help as many people as they can, “unfortunately, we don’t have enough resources to help everyone,” Webb shared. “I think the numbers I’ve seen are about 1-and-a-half million people in Lesotho are experiencing famine like conditions and it has become very severe.”
To help with relief efforts or for more information, contact Coy Webb at email@example.com. (WR)