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Faith and food: a worldwide blessing

November 22, 2011

A farmer carrying crops over his head.

Orange Park farmer. —Photo by Bob Ellis, World Mission

As Christians, food is not just something we put in our mouths. It is a gift from God that unites families and communities. It fuels our bodies and gives us life. It can provide a livelihood in areas of little hope, and it can nurture the spirit as much as the flesh.

This week many of you will come together with your family, friends and neighbors to give thanks for the abundance God has bestowed.  It is a time of celebration and joy. 

Although Thanksgiving is an American holiday, your support of the Presbyterian Hunger Program, a ministry of the General Assembly Mission Council, means other families around the world will also be able to share in that abundance.

In the weeks following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, more than 10,000 families received tools and indigenous seeds purchased in the northern agricultural region of the country using funds given by Presbyterians to GAMC. The seeds and tools allowed families not only to feed themselves but to help the thousands of people who fled into rural areas following the disaster.

Buying locally in Haiti stimulated the economy in a time of great need, and because the seeds were from the region, it meant they could produce harvest after harvest. The effort created an immediate influx of food and long-term opportunities for families. 

“With the seeds, we’re able to do more with our land,” Clemancia Phillipe, a Haitian farmer, said. “So I can feed my family when they’re hungry and also send them to the doctor when they are sick. And we’re able to save seeds in the silo, so when we need extra money, we can sell that seed.”

“I was able to send my kids to a better school,” Ysleine Maxime, who also farms in the Papaye agricultural area, said. “And it’s through the seed program that I could do that.”

Large bags of seeds in a room.

Orange Park seed bank. —Photo by Bob Ellis, World Mission

What’s happening in Haiti with the food program reflects how PHP is trying to create sustainable food systems that address the root causes of hunger around the world, rejecting the industrialization of those systems, which ultimately break down.

Mark Hare is a PC(USA) Mission Co-worker in Haiti for PHP. He works with the farmers’ movement of Papaye, Haiti, better known as MPP. The organization guided the seeds and tools program to ensure those in need received the help PHP sent.

Mark is also working to help reinforce Haitian agricultural efforts by diversifying production, integrating small animal husbandry with the cultivation of vegetables and other crops in the small areas surrounding each family’s home.

“The programs are about providing people options so they can recover themselves,” Hare said. “As Christians, we have the opportunity to see what kind of people Haitians are … and realize how God is working with them and in them in incredible ways.”

Learn more about PHP’s efforts to reconnect us to our food and faith by rethinking how both relate us to others in the world. And, as you sit down with your loved ones this week, be warmed by the knowledge that Christ is using each of us to touch the lives of others in powerful ways.

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