Flood Update: Delivering Hope - January 26, 2008
Report by David Morrison
In Bangula the rain pounded down again on our roof throughout the whole night. We slept restlessly, awakening often, concerned for those whose grass shelters would not withstand these conditions. We know that this Malawi rain will eventually flow downstream into the devastated flood region of Mutarara, Mozambique, challenging relief efforts even more. We pray and hope that in the midst of this, the thousands displaced find some comfort in Jesus, who we know is near.
It is absolutely amazing how in such a short time God provided seventeen metric tons of food for us to share. God blessed us with a short dry spell as we drove our convoy down the rough, dirt highway in central Mozambique, lined with numerous refugee camps. Border officials on both sides gave us their full support, sympathizing with the multitudes who are suffering. We fed 500 families in three refugee camps, providing them with enough food for two weeks. Satisfying starving people is such an incredible experience. The powerful arm of God has reached down and performed a great miracle. Again, the story of Jesus feeding the thousands with a little bread and fish becomes so much more meaningful.
As we entered the camps, people ran to us singing and dancing and soon all were gathered under the largest shady tree. Smiles replaced frowns. Joy kicked away gloom. Praise filled the air. Encouraged by the news that many from around the world are concerned lifted them up out of despair. Like they have been awakened with the truth that they are people of value, and in the midst of having lost so much, they gain life in Jesus which can never be washed away. Many respond and thankfully welcome Jesus in their lives. The Bread from heaven has satisfied their hunger for life.
While our Malawi team distributes food and supplies, I move around the crowd and throughout the grass-tent-camp gleaning photos and testimonies. I find a group of women with their children taking relief from the hot sun under the shade of a tree. They are alive! They have found hope. Excitedly they tell me that their prayers are different today – they are thanking God for hearing their cry.
Food is quickly carried back to their grass tents and in a short time the camp is filled with smoke from all the little fires. They are hungry. No time is wasted. They need to eat.
As I continue to walk around I see that the mood of the people is up - they dance, praise God, reach out to shake my hand. For a short time there is relief from the daily pressures of camp survival. There is time for celebration – something that they have not had any reason for doing during the last couple of months.
My eye is distracted by an unfinished grass hut and so I move closer for a better look. The hut is small, well lived in, and contains a few household items carried from the floods. Concerned for their living conditions, I ask the woman why she hasn’t finished her hut. This widow with three young children complains that she doesn’t have the strength to do any more. She has no money and is very weak. Nobody has offered to help her without demanding something in return. She has nothing to give. I see men with their families in neighboring huts and call them over. I plead with them to help and our discussion concludes with their promise to assist. When you are fighting to survive it is hard to recognize the needs of others who are so close.
I see an elderly woman under the shade of a tree, aloof and wearing very little. I took her some clothing - she dressed and then with new dignity joined the rest of the crowd. Isaiah prophesied that Jesus would do just that: “Throughout the world God will remove the indignities from his people.” Is. 25:8
Another older woman brought to me an abandoned baby saying that she was too old to produce milk and the child was starving. I’m told this child’s mother was mentally challenged and deserted the baby. I discretely gave this foster mother some money so that she could buy cows milk from local villagers.
Disaster relief work is very difficult, especially among those desperately struggling to survive. There are always those who try and cheat by stealing, or jump into cue again after registering a second time with a false name. It is risky and demands wisdom in controlling the crowds as fights can easily ignite resulting in things getting out of hand. We witnessed a few minor disturbances but overall the distribution went smoothly. Thank you for your prayers and generous donations – please don’t stop.
This is a girl in one of the refugee camps, wearing an expression reflecting the pain of her living conditions.
Our team is now preparing for the next journey. It will take us a few days to organize food and supplies but then we will be heading out again to feed another refugee camp. We press on with our eyes fixed on Jesus, our Bread of Life.
Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” - John 6:35-40 (NIV)