Feast or Famine (Matthew 25:34-45)

Deforestation, Erosion, Desertification. These seem like such foreign terms to those of us who live in the eastern United States. Sure we have clear-cutting, which we all complain about until a logger waves a few bucks under our noses. However, the forests always seem to grow back. We know that it’s only a remnant of it’s former glory, but at least it’s there. This is the case because we have been blessed with what Leopold called a “resilient ecosystem”. That simply means that the natural ecosystem in which we live is able to absorb a tremendous amount of abuse before it collapses. The effects that we have are so gradual as to hardly be seen.

In Ethiopia these terms are all too real. The forests have been cleared and are unable to regrow. The topsoil has been washed away and with it the fertility of the land. The land is no longer able to retain the water that falls only during certain brief periods during the year. During the rains the water runs off in mighty torrents that carry what little fertility is left and any crops that might be standing. As soon as the rains pass the land quickly becomes parched until the next flood arrives. They are in a “catch 22”. Should they pray for rain or pray for sun? It seems that in their current state either one results in famine. In fact, in their most productive year on record (1996) as many as 2 million people still starved. This proud and ancient civilization that has sustained itself for thousands of years is now unable to feed itself.

We bumped into James and Sarah at church the first Sunday that we were here. James and Sarah are friends that Jon and Joe met in January; they work for Samaritan’s purse here in Ethiopia. James was telling us how busy they are right now trying to get food aid to the people here. Ethiopia is in another food crisis. Last year flooding washed away the crops that were in the fields. This year drought has scorched the crops. To make matters worse international food aid from the west has been cut, especially from the US. So they are trying to stave off starvation on a massive scale with limited resources.

In the US we rarely stop to think of how fragile our food system is. However, we aren’t so far removed from situations similar to what Ethiopia faces. Though only the oldest among us can remember the time, we’ve all heard of the “Dust Bowl”. The prairie states of the mid-west contain one of the most fragile ecosystems. In ages past, the prairie held this ecosystem in a tentative state of stability. As soon as the plow touched it and the wheat and corn spouted it was a downward spiral until it collapsed. In fact, the only thing keeping the “bread bowl” from being called a dessert is the extensive irrigation systems that are draining aquifers at an alarming rate. Certainly our whole food system is built upon massive irrigation systems. The next time you are buying produce at the grocery store check the sticker to see where it was grown. About 75% of the time it will say California. This is made possible only by dry, sunny southern California swiping water from it’s rain soaked sisters to the north. The only thing keeping the US from experiencing famine and environmental collapse is that we have the luxury of being able to afford the technology to moderate the effects of our abuses. There are few luxuries here in Ethiopia.

So we’ve been blessed. Should we feel guilt with every bite we take? Certainly not, but we should feel something. We should feel a great since of thanks for what we have been given, and how better to show our thanks than through our action (1 John 3:17-18). There needn’t be a choice between feast (for us) or Famine (for them). We have the means to feed the world. Why aren’t we doing it?

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4 comments

  1. Wow, Jon and Jess! This is one of the reasons I am so excited about you guys being there. You not only see the problem but you bring something God has given you to address the problem. I know that you don’t see yourselves as the only solution to this and I’m greatly appreciative of the way you’ve been networking with other food producers. God is going to use you in an amazing way to be part of the solution for the famine and poverty.

    Joe and Karyn are dealing with the affects of it, you guys are dealing with some of the causes. It’s just like God to take a nation where it is and bring both kinds of ministry to it. I’m thrilled that He has you there.

  2. Hey Cousins, I just want to tell you both how proud and thankful I am to be related to both of you. I know that it is tough being so far from home, but know that you are building an even greater home for yourselves in heaven.

    God is aware of the horrible circumstances that you and the people of Ethopia are struggling with.

    As I was reading your blog, Isaiah 55:6-13 was brought to my mind. This is my prayer for you, the people of Ethopia and the land! Seek the Lord while He may be found….His ways are Higher than our ways…Just as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return without watering the earth and making it bear and sprout, and furnishing seed to the grower and bread to the eater….For you will go out with joy… the mountains and hills will break forth into shouts of joy….instead of the thorn bush the cypress will come up…. and it will be a memorial to the Lord.

    The Lord also says, “If MY people will praise me, and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear them from heaven and HEAL their land.” We serve a faithful God! Who is true to his word!

    Be encouraged my dear cousins… the investments you are making are not in vain! I love you both.

  3. I just wanted to send you this article that was sent to me. I hope that it will encourage you. God is powerful and the laws of science do not apply to him!!!!! Expect Big and YOU WILL SEE GREAT THINGS!!!! (Eph 3:20) love you, patience

    As reported from Larry Chkorreff ISOB/inJesus Global Missions

    Manna from Heaven:
    Kingspride Hammond, native born in Ghana, but an American citizen, is now a full time missionary to Northern Sub-Sahara Ghana. He has a large mission compound consisting of a vocational school, a medical and dental clinic, a fish farm and a land farm. The area was experiencing a drought. This is a serious issue in the dessert land, as farms were withering and animals and even humans were dying due to the lack of rain. King noticed in Genesis Chapter 26 that God told Isaac not to go to Egypt during the famine, but to rather sow in spite of the famine.

    King took this as a rhema and a Word directly from the Lord. He obeyed and sowed the 13 acre farm with corn seed. He told the Lord, “Lord, I don’t know if it will rain or now, but I am not looking to the rain, or to my own efforts, I am looking to You.” All the other farms in the area were withering with no rain in sight. Animals were dying. However the mission farm corn crop grew without rain, and yielded even 10% more than the years when the did have rain. The implications went far beyond the corn. The Muslims came and wanted to know about this God that caused the corn to grow. The Ju-Ju priests came and told King that they had sacrificed to their god, they had done many incantations, yet their god did not produce like his God.

    The answer? King had a single eye. He went through the asking, seeking and knocking. The storm of drought came, but as a doer of the Word his house stood on the Rock and others flocked to the house that stood. Read: Matthew 6-7

    Where are you planting?

    Refuse to accept what the world says, for you are a child of God and His “promises” are true.
    We are experiencing a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit throughout the land. As I prepare for my next journey to Africa in just a few short weeks, it is exciting to be apart of what God is doing in the world. This truly is the “Great Adventure.”

    Dave Moore

  4. “So we’ve been blessed. Should we feel guilt with every bite we take? Certainly not, but we should feel something. We should feel a great since of thanks for what we have been given, and how better to show our thanks than through our action (1 John 3:17-18). There needn’t be a choice between feast (for us) or Famine (for them). We have the means to feed the world. Why aren’t we doing it?”

    Good question. I found these verses today: James 2:14-26

    Let us help those in need, and give them the only thing that will make an eternal difference: The Gospel of Jesus Christ!

    Thank you for your encouragement!

    Forever in His Service,
    Ben Peacock (TFCF Website Designer)

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