With the help of our advocates across the world, many efforts have been made to respond to the widespread drought crisis across Southern Africa. Individuals from our International countries have come together to pray, advocate, raise awareness and fundraise to help bring relief to the most vulnerable communities. We celebrate the work that God is doing in uniting His church across the world to bring hope to the hopeless.
When long-term partners from New Horizons Church in Australia heard about the effect that the drought was having on many of the countries in Southern Africa, they said they couldn’t do anything else but respond. The Sunday after they received the first news about the drought, the church took up a special mission’s collection during their service which kick-started their fundraising efforts for the drought relief. Additionally, earlier this month, New Horizons Church hosted a variety night/auction at which George Snyman – co-founder of Hands at Work – spoke at. A longtime friend and advocate of Hands at Work, Shane Lepp, said “It just seems so natural that if a part of our family is in need, we do what we can to support them.” Additionally to the financial support, the church is committed to praying regularly for the many communities that are being affected by the drought.
Terri and Rick Tuers, advocates of Hands at Work in Florida, host a bi-weekly prayer meeting in their home where they provide an information update on what is happening in Africa. People come together to pray, sing and read scripture as they lift up the children and families affected by the drought. They distribute a ‘Sphere of Influence’ handout to each person, along with drought business cards and a coloured pebble. The ‘Sphere of Influence’ handout is a chart that demonstrates to those receiving it all the different areas of their lives where they can influence people. The pebble handed out is a reminder that every time the message of the drought crisis is shared with someone new, a pebble has been dropped and has created a positive ripple effect. As a result of these prayer meetings; friends have begun actively supporting Hands at Work and are organising fundraisers and awareness campaigns.
Wellspring Church in San Francisco had a special focus on the drought during their annual Vacation Bible School. Meg Larson and Jennifer Kim, advocates in the US, held activities with the children which included role-playing a child-headed household. The kids wore chitenges – traditional African fabrics, carried dolls on their backs, fetched water and tried to carry buckets on their heads. They shared real stories of children in Africa, watched drought related videos, and made magnets to remember to pray for those affected by the drought.
Sara Waldvogel, advocate in New York, served on the hospitality staff at a Christian camp where a retreat was held for pastors and workers from East Asia and Asian-American churches. The leader of the retreat asked Sara to share on the drought situation in Africa. Sara shared about how Hands at Work is responding to the considerable drought crisis and the desperation many families and children are facing. She challenged the pastors that it is up to God’s people to shine in the midst of this crisis. The leader of the retreat urged those in attendance to give sacrificially, and they did. Sara shares, “I was greatly encouraged as I heard pastors from all over the world cry out to God on behalf of our communities.”
Recently, the Hands at Work Office in Canada encouraged people to participate in a day of fasting and prayer for the drought crisis. On that same day, Louise Buhler, an advocate living in Saskatoon, was deeply impacted by a drought video that was shared. In the video, John, from the local office in Zimbabwe, explains that mothers and fathers are leaving their children because they are unable to bear the burden of their hunger and desperation, leaving them extremely vulnerable. After the day of fasting, Louise shares, “My heart broke for the moms and dads whose pain, hunger, frustration, devastation and shame caused them to run from the people they loved most.” Louise and her family put a call out to their community in Saskatoon and, along with raising funds for the drought crisis, a group of people began gathering together to meet monthly to pray, lifting up those who are being affected by the drought.
You can make an impact wherever you are. Share and challenge your church and community group, family and friends to join Hands at Work and the International church as we strive to relieve the devastating impact of the drought and food crisis affecting the most vulnerable children in Africa.