Yosef Desta and Mario Aguilar, Ministry Director of Africa and Ministry Director of Latin America, visited Zambia and Zimbabwe to train pastors on how to do mercy ministry with a Food Pak, a 20-pound box of food. The training is Rethink Mercy Equipping and is part of Children’s Hunger Fund “Equip” program of F.A.C.E. – Feed, Aid, Connect, Equip. This account is from one of the families they visited in John Laing, a community outside of Lusaka, the capital of Zambia.
Yosef and Mario sat on chairs in the crowded cinder block home while their host, Seveline, sat on the dirt floor holding one of her nine children. As she began to tell them about her life, Yosef felt tears fill his eyes.
“I was so broken. I was trying to address them, and I cried,” Yosef said.
Since her husband left three years ago, Seveline has done anything she can to provide for her family. She sells charcoal, doughnuts, and other goods at an outdoor market. But it’s never enough to keep her kids fed and healthy.
She tells us with a mixture of pride and sorrow about her oldest, Samuel. He graduated from high school at the top of his class and was offered a scholarship that covered 75% of the cost of college. But that last 25% was still an insurmountable cost to her family. Seveline’s dream of sending her son to college evaporated.
Imagine how many days she sent him to school hungry. Imagine Samuel focusing on anything other than food when he didn’t eat breakfast.
“That’s unthinkable,” Yosef said, as he considered the grip of poverty on their lives.
What truly brought Yosef to tears was meeting Grace, Seveline’s nine-year-old daughter. He learned that Grace doesn’t go to school at all because her mom cannot afford it. He pictured his own daughter who is only a few years younger and already reading.
This is just one side of poverty. It’s not simply that there are too many mouths to feed and not enough money to go around. Poverty affects how you see yourself, your family, and your dreams for the future.
The pastor of a local church, Pastor German, and other volunteers visit Seveline and her family twice a month—once to bring food, and another time to talk and pray with family. They speak about God in a deeper way, as a loving Father who protects and provides.
The gift of a Food Pak means the children will not go to bed hungry but it does not alleviate all of the pain. Their broken hearts, unfulfilled dreams, and daily suffering remain. Pastor German and the others continue to walk alongside and disciple this sister in Christ.
As Yosef said, “Giving food is a good thing, making disciples of Jesus Christ is the best thing.”