On Our Cover ROSA MIA, 52, represents many hopeful residents of El Limonal (in Nicaragua), where Food for the Hungry runs several development programs.
6:8 Summer 2007, Volume 5 6:8 is a quarterly magazine of Food for the Hungry that highlights stories of physical and spiritual development and affirms the role of partners and supporters in making a difference in the lives of the poor around the world. Platimum Award Winner, MarComm Creative Awards President Benjamin K. Homan Vice President Matt Panos Sr. Director, Ministry Partners John Frick Executive Editor Greg Forney Managing Editor Rez Gopez-Sindac Graphic Designer Lisa Leff Contributing Writers Mary Euler Sterling Meyers Editorial Resource Heidi Hatch Sara Marmo Magazine Intern Sterling Meyers We welcome comments and feedback. E-mail us at: email@example.com Or send them to: Food for the Hungry 6:8 Magazine 1224 E. Washington Street Phoenix, AZ 85034
coming home from school, a young Nicaraguan girl thinks about the chores that await her.
Food for the Hungry Vision God called and we responded until physical and spiritual hungers ended worldwide.
Mission To walk with churches, leaders and families in overcoming all forms of human poverty by living in healthy relationship with God and His creation. Motivated by Christ’s love, we achieve our mission using a three-dimensional approach: • Speaking out to all people and nations about God’s call to end physical and spiritual hungers. • Sending people to share God’s love. • Serving the transformation of communities.
Scriptural Basis “What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” – Micah 6:8
Phone: 480-998-3100 (Toll free) 800-2-HUNGERS Food for the Hungry thanks photographer and advocate Rodney Rascona for providing us with excellent photography. We also thank O’Neil Printing for their support in maintaining graphic industry standards at reduced costs, allowing us to be faithful stewards of God’s gifts and resources. Food for the Hungry is a charter member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA). Copyright 2007 by Food for the Hungry. All rights reserved. Reproduction of any part of this publication without written consent of the publisher is strictly prohibited. god’s work among the poor through Food for the Hungry gives many families hope for a better future for their children. 2
World Food Day RAISE AWARENESS AND PROMOTE ACTION TO ALLEVIATE HUNGER
October 16 is World Food Day, a worldwide event that is observed to draw attention to the plight of hundreds of millions of people suffering from hunger and malnutrition. For more than 36 years, Food for the Hungry has walked alongside the poor in response to Godâ€™s call to end physical and spiritual hungers worldwide. Because of your faithful support reflecting Godâ€™s abundant love and mercy, children and families in impoverished communities around the world have hope for a better future.
Thank you for your generosity and partnering with us to go to the hard places and make a difference, not just on World Food Day, but every day. Also, join with us and take this moment to pause and pray for the poor around the world.
For more information on how FH helps bring an end to physical and spiritual hungers worldwide, go to
6:8 SUMMER SPRING 2007 6:8 2007
Volume 5 | Summer 2007
Editor’s Letter From the President UP CLOSE AND RELATIONAL God’s compelling vision to end physical and spiritual hungers is a call to closeness, not distance.
8 FH News 12 One at a Time
REFLECTIONS OF A SUBSISTENCE FARMER How a Guatemalan farmer and his family made the transition from poverty to living a life of purpose.
14 Frontliners CHAMPION OF COMMUNITY
32 Ministry Highlights
TRANSFORMATION Dwight Jackson leaves no stone unturned to ensure that disadvantaged villages in Burundi and Rwanda have opportunities to create and sustain growth.
28 Vision Partners
COOL IS AS COOL DOES Well-known Christian recording artist Scott Krippayne walks the less-traveled path of a servant, set on pleasing God and not man.
HOW AVERAGE FOLKS CAN CHANGE THE WORLD The Advocate Ministry of Food for the Hungry provides a myriad of opportunities for ordinary men and women to be a part of an extraordinary vision. • Krista West: Vocal and Bold • Rich Mikan: Hope from Hollywood
Restoring the Whole of Life In Nicaragua, nine international organizations collaborate with local leaders to rebuild a nation traumatized by natural disasters and many years of civil war. a ray of light lands on the sun-bleached hair and creased uniform of a young Nicaraguan girl with a pleading look.
We Want to Hear from You It has been a little over a year since we launched 6:8. Our editorial and design staff has worked hard brainstorming, dreaming, planning and researching how to best bring the real-life stories from the hard places to your homes and offices. It has been a labor of love – and I cannot thank enough the team’s commitment and dedication to excellence. But as we plan and dream about 6:8 in the coming years, I am reminded of Proverbs 15:22, which tells us “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisors they succeed.” In the midst of all the work and planning, we do not forget that 6:8 is for you – our donors, advocates and field staff who make the ministry of Food for the Hungry possible. 6:8 exists to affirm your call to care for the poor and make a real difference in their lives. It is an expression of our gratitude to you for joining us in bringing an end to physical and spiritual hungers worldwide. And to make sure we are successful in doing so, we value and seek your counsel. We want to hear from you: what we’re doing right, where we are missing the mark, and any other ideas you may have about 6:8. We have attached a response card (located between pages 22 and 23) for you to write down your thoughts and mail back to us. You can also e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. As you provide specific feedback,
it would also help us to hear your thoughts on the following questions: • Does 6:8 communicate well the vision of Food for the Hungry? [God called and we responded until physical and spiritual hungers ended worldwide.] • Do the stories inspire and encourage you to make a difference in the lives of the poor? • Does 6:8 show God at work in the lives and hearts of FH staff, donors, volunteers and beneficiaries and give Him the glory? We are excited to hear your comments and incorporate them into future issues of 6:8. Thank you once again for your faithful support of the work of Food for the Hungry around the world. As you read through the pages of this issue – our fifth issue – it is our desire that the stories continue to encourage and inspire you to “do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with Him.” Blessings, Greg Forney Executive Editor
from the president
up close and
Go d’s compelling vision to end physical and spiritual hungers is a call to closeness, not distanc e. By Benjamin K. Homan, Food for the Hungry President and CEO
You may remember the scene from “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” the movie in which the world met for the first time archaeologist and adventurer Indiana Jones. Being treated for injuries after one of his close calls, Indiana Jones groans in pain and mutters, “It’s not the age; it’s the mileage.” In just a few words, the fictional hero communicates the sheer difficulty of traversing rugged landscape and facing impossible barriers. Yet at the same time, we sense his total commitment to his objective.
th e mission At Food for the Hungry, some of our international adventurers and heroes are called Hunger Corps, brave volunteers who are sent with a much different goal than Indiana Jones. In my opinion, these intrepid Hunger Corps volunteers focus on a far more challenging vision and mission than any portrayed by Harrison Ford. They seek to be part of ending physical and spiritual hungers by going to the hard places where Food for the Hungry serves.And as they go, our Hunger Corps team sees and grasps how important and vital the vision is. Knowing the primacy of that vision makes it worth traveling across rough and dangerous terrains.Yes, we go to the hard places. But we go not for the sake of activity itself. We go to fulfill our God-sized vision: God called and we responded until physical and spiritual hungers ended worldwide.
th e movem ent In accepting this vision, we embrace the essential activity of going. Staying is not an option when it comes to reaching people in need. It is like the warning on television stunt shows, “Do not attempt this at home!” It is the same with this vision. It cannot be accomplished at home within four comfortable walls, nor can it be done in isolation. Attacking physical and spiritual hungers demands personal and relational action. And this is what our team of Hunger Corps does around the world. They understand that God’s call cannot be answered at a safe distance. As a community of faith, we must go and be near to those in need.We must extend the caring hand of our loving God. The grace and forgiveness which God has stretched out towards us compels us. He has loved us so fully, having demonstrated His own love by sending His beloved Son to come and die for us. Does one have to be the actual person who goes to a foreign land? The answer is “no.” We
each have been given different gifts and roles in God’s work, and one role is not inherently better than another.The Bible teaches us that we are one body, yet we vary in function. The apostle Paul was one person who was sent by others. At times he was joined by Silas, Barnabas, Mark or others. Not everyone boarded the boat with Paul on his journeys. Some remained behind. The actual act of crossing cultures and geography to serve is not a role for every follower of Jesus. However, what is not optional is somehow being disconnected from the total effort and from those who do go. In other words, if you are not in movement yourself, then be in the movement. And don’t forget to seek out and bond with those God calls to go and to take action. We need your encouragement. Together we can answer God’s call to end physical and spiritual hungers by being both in movement and being a movement!
th e mo d el Seeing the example of Jesus inspires us! It was He who came into our danger zone not to be served but “to serve and give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). God forbid if we attempt ministry in His name with mere mechanical techniques disconnected from the community. This would contradict how Jesus did ministry. Relationships are at the core of who God is. The story of redemption, at its very essence, is about the restoration of broken relationships – with God and with all of creation. And Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross – the ultimate act that makes all things new and that can restore all of these broken relationships – is a personal, relational deed done by God Himself. In Jesus’ death and subsequent resurrection, He culminates more than 30 years of living in human flesh, feeling every pain common to man and enduring the full brunt of every type of
temptation – and yet not succumbing. No one else has ever made a journey so hard.
th e manner Jesus’ personal and relational manner instructs us on how to help others in His name, how to be near and how to draw next to someone. Going the distance to be with people in a personal and relational way is not safe.Yet safety is not the objective. Safety was not the goal for Jesus, the apostles or the prophets. In fact, one of the core sins addressed by the prophet Micah was how the religious leaders of his day distanced themselves from the hurting and the oppressed by holing up in walled cities. Our response to God’s call will grow more effective as we let go of self-protection and propel His love forward in a personal and relational form. Jesus’ way of doing ministry involves going, reaching out and bridging the gaps. It means taking the steps necessary to be with and near those in need. Answering the call and moving into action requires us to be focused on people and relationships. Even as we ourselves are transformed by God’s love in healthy relationship with Him, He equips and empowers us to enlist others “to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God” (Micah 6:8).
Going the distance to be with people in a personal and relational way is not safe. Yet safety is not the objective.
th e Multiplier Jesus said, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field” (Matthew 9:37). Jesus also instructed His disciples in Acts 1:8,“You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth.” Indeed in the passage known as the “Great Commission” (Matthew 28:19, 20), Jesus calls us to “Go and make disciples of all nations.” But it is not just the call of Jesus; it was the ministry practice of Jesus – going, being near, building relationships. It is exactly how Jesus ministered and how He multiplied Himself. Embracing the connection of our calling to the nations requires us to be thinking of a multiplying impact that spans beyond the individual. God’s truth applies to the wholeness of society, culture and the nations – as well as to each person! Perhaps God is calling you to join with Food for the Hungry as part of our Hunger Corps team. Or perhaps you can help send, pray for, encourage and support a Hunger Corps staff member. Either way, you will be helping to live out the words that our founder, Dr. Larry Ward, spoke countless times, “They die one at a time; we can help them one at a time.” It is a calling to interpersonal connection with others. Is there a cost? Yes. Is it worth it? Absolutely! 9
FOOD FOR THE HUNGRY News Relief Simulation Kit Now Available to Churches
Philippines Relief Work Meets Physical, Spiritual Needs
A new, interactive, one-hour teaching t o o l designed to give c h u rc h e s and small groups a taste of the complexities and challenges of relief work is now available. “It’s kind of a Relief 101 course,” says creator Mary Lee Crocker. “We’ve designed this to give people an understanding of what relief workers face when they walk into a natural disaster or complex emergency.”
ADVOCATES participate in a simulated earthquake relief situation – part of the new, one-hour teaching tool that sheds light on the challenges of relief work.
About 30 percent of Food for the Hungry’s work around the world is relief work. Crocker says, “We wanted to create a tool to help people understand this aspect of FH’s work. It has been terrific to pilot the simulation and see people wrestle with the kinds of hard choices relief workers face all the time in the field. I can tell people are grappling with new issues and learning something along the way.” To order the Relief Simulation Kit for your church or small group, contact Cheryl Johnson of FH’s Advocate department at email@example.com, or call 800-2-HUNGERS.
On December 1, 2006, Typhoon Reming struck the Bicol region of the Philippines, killing hundreds of people and leaving more than 85,000 homeless. Food for the Hungry immediately responded, along with partner Filipino families affected by typhoon Reming receive rice to organization Medical tide them over until new crops come in. Assistance Programs International (MAP). The organizations teamed to meet pressing needs for items such as antibiotics, vitamins and medicine for coughs, colds and fevers. Food for the Hungry also provided rice to community families to sustain them while they waited for crops to come in. Moreover, it has partnered with a local church, Worldwide Church of God, to implement micro-enterprise programs that involve raising pigs and chickens. Since the typhoon, churches in the area have strengthened their outreach efforts in the community. As a result, a congregation of nearly 30 members has been established, and a ministry to the indigenous people has been started.
FH LAUNCHES RELIEF UNIT WEB PAGE Stay up-to-date with Food for the Hungry’s relief work around the globe at www.fh.org/relief. Explore the development and relief work of Food for the Hungry via pictures and stories as well as blog and podcast sections. The resources at the Relief Unit section of the Web page give insights into communities around the world where Food for the Hungry serves.
Relief work in the philippines • Relief simulation kit • Community rallies for clean water
Facts about water and sanitation
(and their link to health) • 1.8 million people die every year from diarrhea. • The simple act of washing hands at critical times can reduce the number of diarrhea cases by up to 35 percent. • For children under age 5, water-related diseases are the leading cause of death. • 1.1 billion people in the world lack access to improved water supply. • 2.6 billion people in the world lack access to improved sanitation. • A person can live weeks without food, but only days without water. • A person needs four to five gallons of water per day to survive. • The average American individual uses 100 to 176 gallons of water at home each day. • The average African family uses about five gallons of water each day.
Community rallies for clean water A woman in Charamoco, Bolivia, bathes her son in running water – an outcome of the community’s collaborative efforts to build a successful water and sanitation system.
The people in Charamoco, Bolivia, a farming community nestled in the Andes Mountains, have banded together for a common cause: clean water. The Charamoco people used to drink from the Arque River, a water source with a high level of salt. Now they have clean water and a good sanitation system. You can trace the footprints that mark this success story to Food for the Hungry staff members in Bolivia and a few community
a note from a supporter
leaders who traveled door-to-door, rallying their neighborhoods for clean water. They asked community members to contribute their finances and manual labor toward this goal, and more than 125 families came together to begin the work. Day after day, people traveled six miles by foot to and from their village to the spring where they worked on the water system. After eight months of hard work, the potable water system was inaugurated.
The community then organized the Water and Sanitation Committee (WSC), which operates and maintains the water system. The WSC takes a step beyond basic administration to care for the families by reinforcing health practices and even providing vaccinations. Charamoco’s water and sanitation system is a model of excellent management. Capital accumulated from operations is used to expand water coverage and support agricultural initiatives.
• Millions of women and children spend several hours a day collecting water from distant, often polluted sources. • As much as 90 percent of waste water in developing countries is discharged without treatment into rivers and streams. Sources: World Health Organization, UN Human Development Report
“When I visited Meru, Kenya, through a Food for the Hungry short-term team, I learned that every bit of hope and help matters. Even though we came and left too quickly, we brought the message with us: ‘Someone loves you. Somebody cares.’ With every check you write, every note you pen, every prayer you offer, you send that message too. ‘Somebody loves you. Somebody cares.’ Please don’t ever think that your part in their lives doesn’t matter. It does – more than you’ll ever know.” – Richard Gotthardt, Mesa, Ariz.
nehemiah center dedicates new campus • water project improves health • facts on aids
Guests and friends take a look at the new Nehemiah Center campus.
Ben Homan, president and CEO of Food for the Hungry, is flanked by Daniel Boniche, co-director of the Nehemiah Center, and Kim Freidah Brown, Food for the Hungry country director in Nicaragua.
Key leaders of the Nehemiah Center – Francisco Gutierrez (president of the board of directors), Joel Huyser (director) and Daniel Boniche (co-director) – welcome guests and ministry partners during the dedication ceremony of the new campus.
After nearly eight months of construction, the new multipurpose campus of the Nehemiah Center was dedicated on March 24 in an on-site celebration attended by more than 100 pastors, ministry partners and friends. Food for the Hungry is one of the nine member-organizations of Nehemiah Center, which boasts a 3.5-acre campus that includes dormitories for teams, office spaces, training and meeting spaces, a kitchen, and a media studio. Founded in 1999, the Nehemiah Center trains lay and pastoral leaders in an integral biblical worldview and encourages local, national and international collaboration for the Christ-centered transformational development of communities and nations. International collaborators include the Caribbean Ministries, Christian Reformed World Missions, Christian Reformed World Relief Committee, Food for the Hungry, Life Wind, Missionary Ventures, Partners in Christ, Partners Worldwide, and Worldwide Christian Schools.
for additional information please
WORDS TO LIVE BY “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.” – Jeremiah 29:11-12
FOOD FOR THE HUNGRY News
Water project improveS city’s public health In Potosí, a rapidly growing city in Belize (formerly knows as British Honduras), Food for the Hungry works with government leaders and residents to improve the city’s sanitation system while reducing malnourishment in the area. Projects to improve the Potosí sanitation system are part of the city’s Municipal Master Plan, which aims to provide the entire city with basic sanitation by 2010. The mayor of Potosí, René Joaquino, says that the Food-for-Work program of Food for the Hungry and the U.S. government is a fundamental pillar for attaining proper water and sanitation infrastructure. Those who participate in the Food-for-Work program receive food rations. The impact of this program is mainly felt among women, who comprise 80 percent of the workers in the sanitation projects. Since 1998, Food for the Hungry has teamed with the Potosí government to restore sanitation conditions with the help of funding from the U.S. government. Through the Food-for-Work program, Food for the Hungry provided assistance for 220 basic sanitation projects, which have benefited more than 19,000 households in Potosí.
the water of life “Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” – John 4:13-14
U.S. Ambassador to bolivia Philip S. Goldberg holds a bag of food rations during a distribution ceremony in Potosi, Bolivia. Also on stage are Mayor René Joaquino Cabrera of Potosi and Peter Natiello, then interim director of USAID Local Mission in Bolivia.
world aids day
hiv/aids facts 3.1 million AIDS-related deaths annually
december 1, 2007
World AIDS Day, a day set aside to raise awareness and support in the global fight against AIDS, is observed on December 1, 2007. To find out what Food for the Hungry is doing to stop AIDS, go to www.fh.org/ hiv_aids_work.
4.9 million new HIV infections every year
There are 13 million AIDS orphans worldwide (90% in Africa)
One at a Time
By Sterling Meyers
fernando lem cal now has the training and resources necessary to cultivate profitable vegetable crops in Cerro Verde, Guatemala.
cal’s wife and seven children have benefitted from Food for the Hungry health and family development programs.
Standing in the rows of my garden plots high on the
mountainsides of Cerro Verde, Guatemala, I take in the fresh air and the miles upon miles of green hills that encircle me. I’m aware of the splendor of my country, but I also know the other side of the coin – the filth and the poverty. I long for a steady job. I wonder what it would be like to have a place to regularly take my harvests. I dream of providing a steady sustenance for my family. I want to give my family special conveniences like latrines and clean drinking water. I keep telling myself that just like any other human being created by a loving, merciful Father, God values me more than His own sparrows. And I tell myself that I have to do what it takes to move forward to be able to give my family a better life. I remind myself that I have to be spiritually strong in order that I might transfer this strength to my wife and children. But for some time I fooled myself into believing that there was nothing I could do to change my family’s physical and spiritual conditions. Then Food for the Hungry came …
These are the reflections of one rural farmer in Guatemala whose life has been changed in significant ways by the work of Food for the Hungry in his community of Cerro Verde. Forty-year-old Fernando Lem Cal and his wife have seven children ranging in ages from 13 down to the youngest, an infant.The scarcity of farming jobs in his community, combined with poor harvests, unproductive soil, and a lack of knowledge on effective farming techniques made his future look bleak. But his future was about to change for the better. Cal participated in the agriculture program of Food for the Hungry, giving part of his land for use as a demonstration plot. Food for the Hungry staff members gave Cal training on soil conservation and how
to improve the quality and quantity of his harvests. They introduced appropriate technology and resources, as well as biblical principles that gave Cal a solid foundation for his spiritual growth. He says, “I really feel satisfaction in being able to know new vegetables to plant and also [to] eat…My soil has improved, and likewise I have gotten better harvests from my land. In addition, I know many new things about agriculture like the use of fertilizer, pesticides and new seeds.” Cal also joined Food for the Hungry’s health program, and he made sure members of the community attended and participated in talks about preventive health and good hygiene. Likewise, Cal took advantage of programs pertaining to family development and leadership development. He says these programs “have been a light and blessing for my life and for many more families who were in the same circumstances.” Cal’s dreams for his family and community have started to become a reality. Cal used to think it was not feasible that his spiritual or physical condition could change, but now he knows that he can continue to grow plentiful crops and lead his family to embrace the love of God. 9
Dwight Jackson leaves no stone unturned to ensure that even the most disadvantaged villages in Burundi and Rwanda have opportunities to create and sustain growth. By Rez Gopez-Sindac
A few years ago, Dr. Dwight Jackson and his students were at the Kigali
International Airport in Rwanda getting ready to fly back to the United States after finishing up a research on how a small minority group in Rwanda could be integrated into society. Jackson had been at the Kigali International Airport a number of times before (having served as a missionary to Africa for many years) and did not think that this particular trip was any more special than the previous ones. But he was wrong. As Jackson was checking his luggage, God was unpacking a new plan for his life. At the check-in counter, Jackson met another traveler, and they began talking with
PHOTO: ELGIN MCMILLAN
Dwight Jackson, Food for the Hungry country director in Rwanda and Burundi, makes sure many impoverished Rwandan families and children can look forward to a brighter future.
each other. “By the time we got to the immigration [line], I had found out that he was the country director of Food for the Hungry in the Congo, and he had learned that I was a sociology professor at Greenville College,” says Jackson. “Then he began recruiting me because there was an opening for a country director in Rwanda.” Back in the United States, the former pastor and missionary
talked with his wife, Brenda, about the opportunity, and they both agreed that he should apply for the position. Jackson applied, got the job, and in January 2005, he and his family moved to Kigali to begin work on transforming impoverished communities. A year later, Jackson was also named country director for Rwanda’s neighbor, Burundi. Then in June 2007, Jackson was appointed director for the African Great Lakes region. This region comprises the countries of Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Battling Poverty in Burundi
“We had never expected to be able to come back to Burundi,” says Jackson, who served as a missionary to Burundi in the 1980s with the International Mission Board (an entity of the Southern Baptist Convention). “We had left that area in 1988 and soon that part of our life was over, but when God opened this door, we saw it as a gift.” While in Burundi as a missionary, Jackson supervised agricultural and economic projects and developed community-based training centers. Now as the country director for this landlocked country, Jackson sees a much bigger need for relief work and community development. “Burundi is relatively peaceful, but extremely needy,” Jackson says. “Seventy-five percent of the people live on
a dollar or less a week. We’re working with people who are near starvation.” In fact, Burundi is currently the poorest country in the world, according to World Bank’s World Development Indicators published in July 2006. Burundi’s GNP per capita is only $90. But the grim statistics only pushes Jackson to work harder at understanding the needs in the communities and tapping new resources to meet those needs. And his efforts are beginning to bear fruit.This year, Food for the Hungry-Burundi received some money for a child sponsorship program. Also, a foundation has responded positively to a grant proposal for a food security program. “The needs are always going to be bigger than our ability to meet them,” Jackson admits. “That’s why it’s crucial to spend time in prayer and in studying the situation so that we can have a good sense of what our priorities should be.”
Rwanda Through the Eyes of Faith
Likewise in Rwanda, Jackson is establishing a plan for community transformation as one of his immediate priorities. He says opportunities abound to solidify and expand Food for the Hungry’s basic programming in Rwanda and to put in place some building blocks that will help communities move forward.
(left) Dwight jackson and a Food for the Hungry-Rwanda staff lead the dedication prayer at the opening of the Nyabikiri-Gatsibo primary school constructed by Food for the Hungry. (Below) Children in poor communities hold classes under trees. But despite the lack of classrooms and other educational resources, Rwandan children try their best to learn.
[ FRONTLINERS ]
One of these opportunities is to create business growth, which will potentially support sustainable development. Jackson explains, “Sustainable development is going to require either a donor who will commit to provide it long-term or a change in the systems of the communities that can bring increased economic activity.” Jackson thinks there is much potential in the latter direction, since the Rwandan government has been making great strides toward establishing national reconciliation and promoting socioeconomic development in the aftermath of the 1994 genocide. Doing development work in Rwanda has never been more exciting, says Jackson, adding that “our ability to create ongoing sustainable economic efforts is increasing.” As an example, Food for the Hungry has obtained a partnership with the Rwandan government in building radical terraces that will transform the hillsides of Rwanda and other unusable land into more productive areas. “We
were successful in winning government contracts to do more than 300 acres of terracing last year, so we are in the midst of helping the government do that program,” Jackson says. Further, Jackson reports that Food for the Hungry has been awarded a contract to help stimulate business activity in the southern part of Rwanda. The goal, Jackson says, is to set up 520 small businesses in the southern province that will potentially trigger ongoing buyingand-selling activities among the people in the communities. He hopes that over time, a middle class will be developed and more jobs will be created. Moreover, Jackson envisions the creation of a Rwandan-owned nongovernmental organization that is committed to community transformation. Looking toward the future, Jackson hopes that one day Food for the Hungry Rwanda/Burundi will run by itself. In the meantime, he continues to develop the skills to understand the culture and the environment and empower his staff to do the work.
Working through people is the only way I can impact this culture.
unmindful of the poverty around them, these boys let out happy smiles.
– Dwight Jackson FH country director in rwanda and burundi
“Working through people is the only way I can impact this culture,” says Jackson, “I’m not trying to change the culture, that’s not my job.” His job, he adds, is to understand the culture well enough to be able to work with people and facilitate the process of creating values and opportunities for them to serve. “When the Lord has raised up some strong Rwandans to provide leadership, I will be very happy,” he says. 9
In Nicaragua, nine international organizations collaborate with local leaders to rebuild a nation traumatized by natural disasters and many years of civil war. By Rez Gopez-Sindac
“Amar es terrible.” Edwin Guzman fights back tears as he explains through
an interpreter how loving others as God commands often comes with tremendous personal sacrifice. “When you love, it means you have to do something,” he says, “and from what I’ve experienced, love is the hardest thing.” Guzman is the pastor of La Primera Iglesia Reformada de La Florida, a small church in the city of Chinandega, Nicaragua. If his voice hints of sadness, it is because just like many people in his community, he knows first-hand what it is like to be trapped in a desperate situation and to hope against hope that someone might care enough to help. Guzman’s parents separated when he was just a baby, leaving him in the care of his grandmother who lived on a tiny island off the Pacific coast. At age 8, he left the island and moved to another town where an aunt owned a farm. There, he worked like a slave, getting up before dawn and breaking off at dusk. After four years of hard labor, Guzman decided he couldn’t do it anymore, so he set off to Chinandega. And because he knew nobody in the city, he ended up living in the park, across from a police station. At this juncture, however, his journey took a turn for the better. The chief of police quickly took notice of the young Guzman and gave him odd jobs to keep him off the streets. Over the years, Guzman earned the chief ’s trust – so much so that the chief not only gave him a place to sleep, but also sent him to train to become a mechanic. At 18, Guzman learned how to read and write.
18 SUMMER 2007
A grade-schooler peeps through a metal window upon hearing the school bell.
PHOTOS BY MARY EULER
[ THE WHOLE OF LIFE ]
“If we serve people, it will be easy to lead them to Christ, to make friends, to build relationships,” says Thomas Ruiz, pastor of Lighthouse Full Gospel Church, a thriving congregation in Los Brasiles, just outside the Nicaraguan capital of Managua.
Guzman got married a few years later and, shortly thereafter, came to know God in a personal way. He and his wife, Marta, became active in church work, and it soon became evident that he had a calling to be a pastor. Guzman was young and inexperienced, but his relentless passion to help those who couldn’t help themselves won the hearts of the people in the community. Often, however, he could barely provide for his own wife and four children – and this put a heavy burden on his heart. “I like to help, but it affects my family,” he says. Guzman’s situation is typical of the kind of struggles many pastors in Nicaragua face daily. Thomas Ruiz is the pastor of Lighthouse Full Gospel Church, a thriving congregation in Los Brasiles, just outside the Nicaraguan capital of Managua. He shares a similar story. For 13 years, Ruiz worked very hard to grow his church.
He attended many church growth seminars; he prayed until the wee hours of the morning; and he fasted often. But the church never grew past a handful of people. One day, he preached about prosperity and how a loving Father wanted so much to give good things to His children. When Ruiz finished his sermon, the congregation jumped to their feet, clapped their hands, and raised their voices with great joy. He, too, got excited about the future of the church. “But when I got home,” Ruiz says, “there was nothing to eat.”
Guzman’s passion to help those who couldn’t help themselves won the hearts of the people in the community.
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Serving and Learning Together
Why there appears to be a dichotomy between God’s truth and life’s realities is a question many Christians in Nicaragua have struggled with for years but are only now beginning to resolve. Poverty stalks Nicaragua like a hungry lion goes after its prey. But poverty is only one of the more obvious culprits against
growth and development in Nicaragua. Traumatized by killer earthquakes and hurricanes, as well as by many years of civil war, this nation harbors deep wounds that will not yield to anything short of a complete transformation. Realizing the need for radical change at every aspect of Nicaraguan life, three international organizations – Christian Reformed World Relief Committee, Food for the Hungry and Christian Reformed World Missions – collaborated to start a movement to rebuild Nicaragua. Over the last five years, the partnership had expanded to include other international collaborators, namely Missionary Ventures International, Worldwide Christian Schools, LifeWind, Partners Worldwide, Partners in Christ, and Caribbean Ministries. Called the Nehemiah Center, this partnership derives its name from the example of the prophet Nehemiah, who was called by God to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. These organizations believe that, similarly, the “walls” of Nicaragua are shattered and in need of “holistic” repair. Joel Huyser, field leader of Christian Reformed World Missions (CRWM) for Central America, and director of the Nehemiah Center, describes Nicaragua this way:“…in a sense, the city walls of Nicaragua are also broken down – spiritually, morally, socially and physically …it needs the Gospel for all of life – for the family, for business, for government – in order that it can be transformed as God would have it transformed.” With a biblical worldview as its foundation, the Nehemiah Center – through the combined resources and expertise of national training staff and the international partners – equips Nicaraguans who have leadership and influence at every level of society to become agents of transformation and bring about restoration to the whole of Nicaragua. These agents of transformation are the frontliners in the community, says Kim Freidah Brown, Food for the Hungry’s country director in Nicaragua. “We encourage people to recognize the resources that God has already given them and to look to their own leaders first.We don’t want them to see ‘gringos’ as the ‘savior’ who comes to fix what is wrong. In serving others, we all serve the Savior Jesus.” Brown says the Nehemiah Center can be likened to a “gentle shepherd” who walks alongside the sheep and doesn’t draw attention to himself. “We build relationships with the local people, and we learn from one another. But they see the efforts as their own with some help from Food for the Hungry, for example, as opposed to it being our program.” “It’s incredible to see unity among people from different backgrounds that normally wouldn’t be so unified,” says Carl Most, a missionary with Caribbean Ministries. He and his wife, Kathy, are involved in mentoring church youth leaders and training pastors and lay people. “It’s pretty amazing to see what God can pull together,” he adds.
1. A food for the Hungry staff spends time with two Nicaraguan boys who make a living selling items that they rummage through the dumpsite. 2. “she is my best supporter and friend,” says Pastor Ruiz of his wife. 3. the school that pastor Ruiz’s church runs provides quality education to many poor Nicaraguan children.
Stepping Up to the Plate
Although no one can completely keep track of what God can “pull together” in Nicaragua, there are examples of incredible life transformations in many communities, convincing even the most jaded observer that God is indeed at work. Remember Pastor Edwin Guzman? He got connected with the Nehemiah Center and received training in holistic development. Today, his church is known for its integrated approach to solving problems in the community. No subject is taboo at his church, and its doors are wide open to all. “People know that when we present a health video about AIDS or other sensitive issues, that it’s something normal. But in other churches, it would be a scandal,” says Guzman. His wife, Marta, now manages a small, home-based business that generates additional income for the family. She also leads a group of 15 women who meet regularly to discuss ways to improve the health of their families and prevent illness along with other issues common to women. Marta says topics such as breast cancer, AIDS, self-esteem, physical abuse, and family violence grab the attention of many women in the community. Guzman, now 30, is in his fourth year of high school and
22 SUMMER 2007
will soon finish a mid-level degree in administration. The abandoned boy who used to sleep in the park now thinks like an entrepreneur with a heart for the poor. “I would like to plant new churches that have a vision to help the needy, to give food to the hungry, to care about injustice,” Guzman says. There is one particular community, he shares, where there is no clinic, and the nearest school is a fourmile walk. Guzman hopes to buy land there someday and build a school and a medical facility. Guzman wants to create an environment where transformation can take place. Realizing that it’s about time local pastors and community leaders stepped up to the plate, he reasons, “The gringos are not always going to be here.” Similarly, Pastor Thomas Ruiz embraced the vision of Nehemiah Center and immediately, he says, God opened his mind, and he began to understand many things.“I was pregnant with many ideas,” he says. After attending a seminar on Community Health Evangelism (CHE), Guzman says he came back to his community with a new mindset and encouraged his congregation “to think outside the walls of the church.” Ruiz says he used to pray a lot for many children with
[ THE WHOLE OF LIFE ] 1. KIM BROWN, Food for the Hungry country director in Nicaragua, shows off a steel door with designs that are symbolic of the collaborative nature of the Nehemiah Center. 2. the new nehemiah center has lodging facilities for visiting missionaries and ministry partners. 3. volunteers and construction men work many hours to finish the new building. 4. eager students walk in single file to their classroom. 5. pastor edwin guzman (shown with his wife and children) is a living example that God can transform lives and restore anything that is broken.
4 Since then, Ruiz adds, his church has grown exponentially. diarrhea. But one Sunday, he and some members of his church did something different. With shovels and wheel barrows, Even the people’s faithfulness in giving also has increased they went out on the streets and got rid of all the dirt, animal significantly. “It was incredible for me. I discovered that the church can give. The waste and breeding places problem was I had a for mosquitoes. Since then, negative attitude. I kept he says, diarrhea became saying that the people a thing of the past in the were poor.” community. Ruiz says the CHE “God sees things holistically,” he points program that the Nehemiah out. “Through the CHE Center introduced is like program, we began to give an open door that leads ourselves to service. If we his church to change. He serve people, it will be easy adds that God used the to lead them to Christ, Nehemiah Center as “a to make friends, to build midwife so we can give – Kim Brown, FH Country Director in Nicaragua relationships.” birth and bring light.” After understanding Today, Faro de Luz holistic ministry, Ruiz says God also impressed on his heart Full Gospel Church has planted two more churches. It also has to lead his church to ask for forgiveness. “We apologized to expanded to include an elementary school, a computer center the community for judging them and for not being good and a vocational training school. representatives of Christ,” Ruiz says. “I feel that we’re only beginning,” Ruiz says. “God is
“We want people to see their own leaders first, and not see us gringos as the savior who came to fix what is wrong.”
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[ THE WHOLE OF LIFE ]
producing change. He is waiting for what we’re willing to do.”
Getting the Work Done
Even in communities where poverty is rampant, there is no question about what some women are willing to do to transform their communities. In El Limonal, a community formed when people displaced by Hurricane Mitch resettled there, a 27year-old housewife is rallying a group of women to make a difference. Fatima Medina is the Community Health Evangelism leader of El Limonal. In front of her house is a sign that reads “casa base” or “home base” in English. Medina regularly meets with a group of women in the community to learn preventive health care and to build up one another in their faith in Christ. They also work with Food for the Hungry missionaries Mike and Maria Saeli to grow vegetable gardens – an additional source of food and livelihood. Medina is a voice of hope and courage in the community of El Limonal. Recently, the community was without water for three months. The water company cut the water service after some residents failed to pay their bills. “Very few people were paying their water bill,” Medina says, “but we also found out that the water company was charging even those who were no longer living here.” So Medina and ten other women went from house to house to collect money to pay the water bill. Then they walked to the municipal government and negotiated for the return of their water supply. Additionally, they demanded that the community debt be reduced and that the water company only cut the water supply of those who don’t pay. The municipal government wouldn’t
accept their demands at first, but the women were determined to not leave the building until they got what they wanted. Finally, their perseverance paid off and water returned to El Limonal. Medina’s leadership brings a balm of fresh hope to this dusty community, where more than 1,500 people live sandwiched between the city’s dump,
are named, numbered and kept clean. Houses have gardens, latrines and a steady supply of water. Families participate in Bible studies and Christian discipleship. “Soon, this community will no longer rely on the dumpsite to find things to eat or sell,” Medina says. In some ways, El Limonal represents many communities in Nicaragua. The
“Soon this community will no longer rely on the dumpsite to find things to eat or sell.”
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– Fatima Medina, Community Leader sewer, and cemetery. This place is often referred to as the “triangle of death.” But Medina has always believed that, even in the most desperate of communities, transformation can take place. Nine years ago, El Limonal was a forlorn cotton field, and the dust, according to the residents, was “up to the knees.” But thanks to the various programs initiated by the Nehemiah Center, today, the streets of El Limonal
poor struggle to survive, and the “dust of life” is often up to their knees. But change has come, and physical and spiritual transformation has begun to take up roots at the community level. The international and local organizations working in Nicaragua believe that this nation’s broken walls will be restored. Yes, it can be done. “Just don’t let the dust overtake you,” advises one local businessman. 9
Fatima Medina meets regularly with several women in the community to learn preventive health care and to build up one another in their faith in Christ.
SUMMER 2007 2007 25 25 SUMMER
Santa Maria is a rural community in Nicaragua where those displaced by the 1998 Casita Volcano mudslide (a result of Hurricane Mitch) have resettled to rebuild their lives. With hardly any job opportunities, life in this hot, dusty community is rough and bumpy. But the people of Santa Maria do not walk alone. Food for the Hungry has been helping some 40 families earn a livable income while teaching them biblical principles for victorious living. Shannon Ahern, a Food for the Hungry staff, runs a small business called NicaMade, using the creativity and ingenuity of the local women. With a strong background in education and business, Ahern went to Nicaragua in October 2004 as a long-term field staff (also called Hunger Corps) with Food for the Hungry. Immediately, he felt that God wanted him to build a business to help the communities develop economically. “I wanted it to be Nicaraguan,” he says. “I wanted it to be sustainable, and not based on charity but on people’s ability to make quality products.” Ahern’s idea of starting a business could not have come at a better time. One year prior to his arrival, another Food for the Hungry Hunger Corps, Anne Thompson, arrived in the community and began getting to know the people and teaching the children English. As Thompson developed relationships with families, she felt increasingly desperate to do something for them. “People were not eating,” she recalls. “You would go to the houses at lunchtime, and nothing was cooking in the kitchen.” So around Christmas time, Thompson, who is skilled in sewing and embroidery, decided to start a livelihood project. With some “help” from a few eager women, Thompson began designing Christmas ornaments. “I drew the designs on the fabric because if they did it, it would be practically ‘unembroiderable,’ so now it was ruined even before they started it.” “But it gave them a start,” she points out, adding that eventually, and with Ahern’s help, the project brought some much-needed income to Santa Maria. Indeed, Ahern’s role in NicaMade is pivotal, although he insists he only plays a small part. Aside from financing and marketing the embroidered handbags, aprons, book covers and coffee bags made by Santa Maria residents, Ahern also invests in the production and sale of items made in nearby communities. These items include coffee, pottery and metal art, which Ahern sells to mission teams and retail outlets in the United States.
Describing his vision for NicaMade, Shannon Ahern says, “I wanted it to be sustainable, and not based on charity …”
26 SUMMER 2007
Through sheer determination and patience, many women in the rural community of Santa Maria learned to produce quality embroidery work.
Casting the Vision
From the get-go, Ahern made his vision for NicaMade clear to everybody. First, it is a business, not a charity. And as a business, it needs to partner with local entrepreneurs and cooperatives, as well as with churches and Christian-based groups like the Nehemiah Center, which can provide resources, technical training and spiritual guidance to families involved in the business. “The idea is not ‘Poor you, I’m going to help you,’ because these people are really intelligent and hardworking, and they have skills,” Ahern says. “But in some cases, we can actually hurt them by giving them stuff all the time.” Second, the products must be of good quality so NicaMade can sell them to tourists, teams and retailers. Third, workers need to participate in a savings program. (Participant save at least 10 percent of their earnings.)
[ THE WHOLE OF LIFE ]
to assume ownership of the business someday. “I don’t want the business to be a Shannon thing. I know I have to fight that,” Ahern says. “It has to be a God thing. It has to become the community’s baby.” Ahern found a dream partner in Peter Traña, who came highly recommended by many people in Managua. The 23-year-old marketing student at the Universidad de Ciencias Comerciales (University of Commercial Science) in Managua grew up in a Christian home and has a heart for the poor. Initially, Traña’s job was to translate for Ahern, who speaks little Spanish. However, Ahern’s business smarts and visionary leadership more than make up for his mediocre language skill. Soon, he had Traña sold on NicaMade’s holistic approach to missionary work. “I have always wanted to be a missionary, to bring God’s truth to communities and give them practical help as well,” Traña says. “So now, I’m really being both a missionary and a businessman. It’s been pretty fun.”
Developing Future Leaders
Fourth, workers participate in community meetings and trainings about physical and spiritual development. “When you provide work, you may solve the problem of not having money for school or food, but a lot of times, having money can be a problem,” says Ahern. “So we are intentional about sharing the love of Christ. We want to see them grow spiritually and be transformed just as we are all being transformed by the Holy Spirit.”
Building a Partnership
Ahern admits that running NicaMade is not all peaches and cream. People don’t want to save their money, he complains, and some families compete and get into ugly fights. To resolve these problems, Ahern sought the help of Food for the Hungry and the Nehemiah Center to conduct workshops focusing on conflict resolution. Ahern also prayed that he would find a Nicaraguan business partner who has what it takes
Traña has fully embraced God’s vision for the poor. His involvement in NicaMade has no doubt deepened his commitment to help those in need rise above poverty and become agents of transformation. He believes that NicaMade provides just the right environment for change to happen. “Because of NicaMade, people’s minds are being opened to many possibilities, and they are starting to find and develop the skills that they have inside of them,” he says. Many of them are already thinking like entrepreneurs, Traña points out. With all these positive developments, no one could be happier than Ahern, whose dream is for the community members to eventually take ownership of NicaMade. “I’m not sure how it will work just yet,” Ahern says, “but I know they have the potential to develop into sophisticated business people and leaders who can bring about physical and spiritual transformation to their communities.” – Rez Gopez-Sindac Peter Traña enjoys the best of both worlds – as a missionary to his fellow Nicaraguans and a businessman, helping others become good stewards of God’s gifts and resources.
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SCOTT AND KATY KRIPPAYNEâ€™S trip to Uganda with Food for the Hungry president Ben Homan was a pivotal time that God used to fuel their passion and commitment to advocate for the poor.
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By Greg Forney
In 1993, singer-songwriter Scott Krippayne, a
self-proclaimed introvert, was walking the bustling hallways of the Renaissance Hotel during the annual GMA (Gospel Music Association) conference in Nashville, Tenn. Less than one year removed from being a college student at the University of Washington, Krippayne was surrounded by well-known Christian artists and music industry professionals and thought to himself, “I’m not cool.” That whisper of insecurity, the feeling of not belonging, served as the inspiration for Krippayne’s breakthrough hit several years later titled, “I’m Not Cool,” which led to two Dove Award nominations and launched his Christian music career to new heights. “I remember feeling like I didn’t fit in. It’s really what I felt like in junior high and high school,” says Krippayne. “I wanted to write a song that captured the awkwardness of those years.” The playful song connected with teenagers who could relate to the message. I’m not cool, but that’s OK My God loves me anyway I’m not cool, but that’s alright I’m still precious in His sight…
Krippayne remembers one e-mail in particular from a mom telling him, “You made my son smile again.” The message of the song – that our identity is in Christ and not in pleasing others – also struck a chord with adults. “I was really surprised that it connected with a lot of adults who identified with not fitting in,” says Krippayne. “Being a Christian is not the coolest thing to be in the world’s eyes, but ‘I’m Not Cool’ was a reminder that we are defined by Christ and not the world.” As he discusses the impact of his music, Krippayne points out that it is God who uses his songs to bring encouragement, hope and truth to others. He calls his role in that as a writer and artist a “tiny part.” For his so-called tiny part, over the past 12 years, Krippayne has released eight solo albums; he has been nominated for three Dove Awards, written hundreds of songs and played his music in front of thousands of people, all with the hope that his music would connect with others and bring them to a deeper understanding of God and their faith.
a reluctant partner Early in his Christian music career, Krippayne was leery in partnering with another ministry. “It seemed like every artist was doing it, so I resisted at first,”
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explains Krippayne, “but then I saw the work of Food for the Hungry and connected with the vision, and it was a perfect fit.” Since 1999, Krippayne has been a Food for the Hungry artist, advocating for the poor to Christian music concert attendees across the United States. Specifically, he challenges his fans to consider sponsoring a child in an impoverished community overseas, something he and his wife, Katy, along with their two children, daughter Tobey, 8, and son Tyler, 6, are personally committed to. In addition to raising sponsors at concert events, Krippayne also lends his talents to Food for the Hungry to appear in videos and to create audio segments used in radio promotions. As his relationship with Food for the Hungry has developed, Krippayne has also made himself available to speak into the artist community and represent Food for the Hungry to the broader entertainment industry.
a trusted name Nearly 10 years after thinking to himself, “I’m not cool,” Krippayne’s peers attested otherwise. Food for the Hungry president Ben Homan explains how Krippayne, already an FH artist representative, was asked to join Food for the Hungry’s board of directors. “In 2003, as we were expanding our board, I began asking Singer-songwriter Scott Krippayne gives God the glory for using his songs to bring encouragement and hope to others.
Christian music leaders who among them they trusted for soundness in biblical communication and for mature spiritual counsel,” explains Homan. “Over and over again, Scott Krippayne’s name surfaced.” It was shortly thereafter, in 2004, that Krippayne joined the Food for the Hungry board of directors. Surrounded by accomplished men and women with tremendous talents and gifts, many of those same feelings of insecurity surfaced. Krippayne reminded himself that God had placed him there for a reason. Indeed, Krippayne’s humble attitude, his desire to listen and learn, and his courage to offer his perspective have been invaluable to a board that Krippayne says was put together by God. “Scott brings to our board an informed and mature heart, a spirit of tenderness and a heart of mercy,” says Homan. “You can hear it in his music too. He expresses a deep passion and love for Christ while keeping it practical and real. Scott is a rare gem, a brother in the Lord that I dearly love.”
a courageous move Shortly after joining the board and more than 10 years into a successful Christian music career, Krippayne and his family made a courageous choice to move back to Tacoma, Wash., in order to raise their family and deepen their roots in a place they loved and missed. As Krippayne contemplated the move, he heard the warnings of colleagues telling him that moving out of Nashville – a hotbed for songwriters and musicians – was a “foolish thing to do.” After months of prayer and reflection, they made the courageous move anyway. While Krippayne knew he would miss opportunities by leaving Nashville, he also believed it would bring freshness to his creativity and would foster growth in his songwriting. Instead of playing it safe, as Krippayne alludes to in his award winning song “This is My Now” – which was recently featured on the finals of American Idol – he has shown a penchant in his life and ministry to “take that step of faith.” While he adamantly claims he is still not cool, his actions speak volumes of a life dedicated to pleasing and following God and not man. 9
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[ VISION PARTNERS ]
Going to the Hard Places In 2006, Scott Krippayne sang vocals and appeared in the video for “Hard Places,” a song used in the Children Under the Trees radio promotion on K-LOVE radio (to see the “Hard Places” video, go to www.fh.org/thehardplaces). As a result of his help and the collaboration of other artists such as Phillips, Craig & Dean, more than $270,000 was raised to build 33 classrooms for children in Rwanda.
KRIPPAYNE AND HIS WIFE, Katy, in
Krippayne and other Christian artists collaborated to raise funds for the construction of classrooms in Rwanda, allowing many children to have access to quality education.
children under the tr Krippayne and his wife, Katy, went with Food for the Hungry president Ben Homan to Uganda in 2003 and they were forever changed. “During that trip, I found that God was so much bigger than I thought He was, and I realized I couldn’t go back to the way I thought before,” says Krippayne. Homan describes the transformation that took place in Krippayne and his wife, “Together, we walked and prayed our way through communities in Uganda wracked with HIV/AIDS. I saw Scott’s and Katy’s hearts break over the tragedy faced by orphans – and I knew that Scott was willing to serve those in need and wrestle in prayer.”
es Hungry provid e th r fo d o Fo Ministry of en and The Advocate portunities for ordinary m ision. p a myriad of o a part of an extraordinary v Euler By Mary women to be
It is not unusual to feel overwhelmed
by the magnitude of suffering in our world. To try to comprehend, for example, the more than one billion people lacking access to safe water can send one’s mind spinning with questions of how, why, and, how can I possibly do anything about it. The average American business professional, construction worker or homemaker may feel like he or she is irrelevant to the fight against global poverty. From the recognition of this reality was born the Advocate Ministry at Food for the Hungry. “We realize that it’s important to equip the body of Christ for service,” says Alisa Schmitz, senior director of the Advocate and Teams Ministry. “Increasingly,” she says, “we are living in a culture that wants to get involved. So this is a way that we can teach, train and allow them to be part of the solution.” For those who want to do more than give financially, but are unable to serve in person overseas, Alisa Sc hm opportunities abound right here at home. and Che itz, left, senio PHOTO r ryl John : ELGIN son, sys director of FH MCMILLAN Advocates of Food for the Hungry combat tems ad A d v o c a ministra te and T tor. eams M physical and spiritual hunger by bringing the inistry, voices of suffering people to a largely privileged nation. They proclaim justice and God’s love for the poor in churches and rotary clubs, on school campuses, and inside organizations and the government. This can be done through large-scale events with hundreds of attendees or through one-on-one talks over a cup of coffee. Currently, Food for the Hungry mobilizes more than 130 advocates nationwide. That number is divided nearly equally between men and women, and their ages span from 16 to 78. – Alisa schmitz Regional managers in California,Wisconsin and Virginia provide training, encouragement and support to the advocates, talking and praying with them monthly.
“...this is a wcahy, n tea that we cad train an aalrltow them to be p ioof the solut n”
32 SUMMER 2007
PHOTO: ELGIN MC
Infiltrating the American Church
The goal of this ministry goes beyond education on global issues and the involvement of Americans in the work of Food for the Hungry. It also seeks to rejuvenate the American church through long-lasting relationships with churches and communities in developing countries. The Adopt-a-Community program, launched in 1997, does just that. American churches and impoverished communities worldwide are brought together in relationships that foster cross-cultural understanding and support of one another. American churches are urged to sponsor children and pray often for their “adopted” communities while supporting development projects that promote self-sustainability. The “adopting” church is trained in the biblical approach to poverty and is equipped to send missionaries and teams to the partnering community, deepening the relationship and allowing the sending church to see first-hand the work being done. Jordanne Bonfield advocates for the poor in Kansas City, Mo. Her church, Heartland Community Church, has adopted a community in Zeway, Ethiopia. “Our partnership matters in Zeway,” says Bonfield. “Our sponsorship of kids matters. Because of FH’s work there, we are breaking the cycle of poverty and HIV in Zeway.”
ADVOCATE Ministry Reg ional Directors: Anne Mc and Gary Reynolds. Cain, Wendy McMahan
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The church also has adopted a community in Nias, Indonesia. More than 30 churches in America have entered into relationships with more than 30 communities worldwide.
A Sunday Devoted to Raising Voices
Another way advocates engage their churches is with the annual “6:8 Sunday.” This day gives Christians an opportunity to focus on the needs of the poor around the world. Advocates and church members help their congregations wrestle with what it means to follow the mandate of Micah 6:8: “He has shown you, O Man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?”
Hungry for the g Food hes in raisin world. with churc e h t d e n ir hom overty arou ountries advocates c ith the p work w wareness of developing nd clean a in a c n d li re o b ild nd pu , fo s of ch dicine hope a Million ucation, me y need real e d h e t f all need Most o water. ving care. lo God’s
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This year, the event falls on October 14. Participating churches are given a kit with all materials needed to inform the church of global poverty and to present ways to make an impact through Food for the Hungry. Some advocates also arrange lesson plans for small groups and children’s Sunday-school classes. Jennifer Hackelton became an advocate in June 2006. Just a few months later, she conducted 6:8 Sunday at her church in Queen Creek, Ariz., and the congregation responded by praying, sponsoring children and surrounding her with interest and support. “The Lord touched their hearts to give so graciously,” says Hackelton. “I just had to deliver the message.” Indeed, that’s what Food for the Hungry advocates do. Touched by the goodness of God, they go out of their way to bring God’s message of love and hope to others. 9
[ MINISTRY HIGHLIGHTS ]
rich MIkaN hope from hollywood Rich Mikan is a Food for the Hungry advocate by default: he just cannot have it any other way. “I’ve always had this intense sense of social justice, and I never really knew what to do about it,” he says. That problem was solved when Mikan learned about advocacy for the poor through Food for the Hungry. “Anybody who talks to me for more than five minutes will find out about Food for the Hungry,” says Mikan. “No matter what we’re talking about, I can somehow turn it around to be about the needs of the poor in the world.” Mikan is a video editor at Fox Television Network in Hollywood, and he helps edit Food for the Hungry videos on a regular basis.With two Emmy Awards for his work on the Oprah Winfrey Show, Mikan uses his influence in the entertainment industry to speak up for those without a voice. Most of his presentations are done one-onone, allowing him the opportunity to bring the immensity of global poverty down to a graspable level. “I think people know these problems exist,” says Mikan. “But statistics are too overwhelming; it’s hard to wrap your mind around them. But when you’re able to sit down with a person and explain stories, you’re able to personalize it. That’s what changes people.”
A Heart for Uganda
Mikan and his wife, Carol, a nursing student, have focused much of their efforts on supporting the New Life Center in Kitgum, Uganda. For this year, their goal is to raise $14,000. The New Life Center is a place that provides rehabilitation for girls who were abducted at a young age by anti-government soldiers. By their early teens, these girls, often mothering more than one child, may be released. But the chances of these girls successfully re-entering their society are slim. The New Life Center, which opened in February 2007, provides healing and restoration for the battered bodies, minds and spirits of these young women. And while hearts and minds are being renewed in the flatlands of Uganda, God has been reshaping Mikan through his service as an advocate. “Being an advocate has shown me how much God really has a heart for the poor,” says Mikan. “When I see how important social justice is to God, I realize how important it is for me to step up and respond.” Mikan also has started speaking at universities across
rich mikan is an awardwinning video editor by trade and a servant to the poor by heart. He and his wife, Carol, raise funds for the New Life Center in Uganda, where former abductees of antigovernment soldiers receive counseling and love.
the United States to encourage young people to become advocates. “A group of students offers not only a chance to share stories of hunger and poverty,” says Mikan. “I also have the opportunity to show them the real change they can effect in the world.” For Mikan, being a voice for the voiceless goes hand-inhand with being a follower of Christ. “I work in the entertainment industry to feed my family, but I’m part of the Advocate ministry to feed my soul,” he says. – Mary Euler
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krisTa WesT vocal and bold Krista West is living proof that one need not hold a doctorate degree or be
an overseas missionary to be a warrior for the kingdom of God. A loan processor at a mortgage company, West may be just another member of corporate America to most people who enter her office. But for those suffering and feeling forgotten by the rest of the world, West offers a voice and a chance at a better life. God gripped West’s heart nearly four years ago as she listened to a presentation about Food for the Hungry’s work in Africa. “I cried throughout the whole presentation,” she recalls. “I was so overwhelmed.” Attracted by FH’s holistic vision of ministering to physical and spiritual needs, West sought involvement with the organization and found the Advocate Ministry to be a perfect fit. It would allow her to speak up for the poor without leaving her home in Phoenix and while continuing her career in mortgage financing. Passionate about those who were ravaged by the war in Northern Uganda, West organizes events in her church and local community to increase awareness of global poverty. She also talks with family and friends about ways they can get involved. She tells them about her trip to Uganda in August 2006: “It was like pouring a gallon of gasoline on my burning heart for Africa, and now it is a huge bon fire.” West visited Piswa, a mountaintop village in Uganda, where Food for the Hungry has planted trees to prevent soil erosion and has built a medical clinic and school. What she experienced there has been soldered onto her heart. And even now, although thousands of miles away and back at home in Phoenix, West still is touching the lives of the people she met that summer. Wanting to see every child in Piswa become a sponsored child,West rejoices that today, more than half of the 423 children available for sponsorship are spoken for. But she is not stopping there.
Labor of Love
West has partnered with other Phoenix-area advocates to create and carry out the “Change for Change” campaign, a project aimed at fighting AIDS in Africa. Supporters of the campaign collect spare change – turning empty pill bottles into piggy banks – to be sent back to the Bringing Hope program, Food for the Hungry’s initiative to prevent the spread of AIDS in five African countries. West and other advocates distribute the bottles at organized events, and since its launch in October 2006, the campaign has raised more than $6,000. West also conducts events throughout the year to inform her local community of needs around the world and to suggest ways for people to respond effectively. For church groups, she has collaborated with other advocates to create a time of worship followed by discussion and the opportunity to sponsor a child. For inner-city high school students, she has used unique demonstrations to show the imbalance of wealth in our world and consequent suffering, and she uses “Change for Change” as an appropriate way for young people to be part of the solution. And for the community at large, West has organized screenings of “Invisible Children,” a documentary film 36 SUMMER 2007
[ MINISTRY HIGHLIGHTS ]
about children kidnapped by Ugandan warlords. She talks about her own visit to the country, afterward manning an informational booth and presenting avenues for service. The results of West’s efforts can clearly be seen in the lives of sponsored children and in renewed hope for impoverished communities worldwide. And West has never felt more inspired. “It gives me an extra reason to get up in the morning,” she says. “It’s given me a passion that’s like an adrenaline rush.”
What Matters Most
West also has seen a difference in the way she lives. Having been raised in an affluent, Southern-California home, she expected to make a lot of money and live a comfortable life as an adult. But after going to a hard place like Uganda and realizing how much of the world barely scrapes by, West suddenly lost interest in things that used to take her time and money, such as hair appointments and manicures. “Things that were so important to me before now just seem worthless,” she says. Now, West saves the money she would have spent on other things in a special bank account, sending all the funds back to Uganda. Also, she now has a better appreciation for everyday blessings like a safe home, a hot shower and nourishing food. And spiritually, advocating for the poor has opened West’s eyes to the real heart of God.When she faces opposition from friends or family who question why she tirelessly fights such a colossal beast as global poverty, she remembers that it is worth it. “God loves everyone,” she says. “Every life is so precious. And maybe I can make a difference, even if it’s just one child. That’s going to be huge for that one child.” – Mary Euler Krista west (holding a child) is passionate about speaking up for the poor and encouraging friends and family members to help those in poverty reach their potential in Christ.
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6:8 Sunday Engaging the Church to connect with God’s heart for the poor
On October 14, churches around the U.S. will be educating and challenging their congregations to get involved and make a difference in the lives of the poor around the world. Food for the Hungry Volunteer Advocates will speak in churches, set up displays and provide opportunities for people to learn about God’s heart for the poor. Host a 6:8 Sunday. Food for the Hungry has all the resources you need to host a 6:8 Sunday. To learn more, contact us at 1-800-2-HUNGERS. Visit us on the Web at www. fh.org/68sunday.
“What does the Lord require of you but do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with your God.” –Micah 6:8 38 SUMMER 2007
Food for the Hungry
Meeting physical and spiritual needs worldwide
1224 E. Washington Street Phoenix, AZ 85034
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