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News Around the World
Published on 06 March, 2012

Central Asian winter a harsh reality

Central Asia (BGR/MNN) — In the mountains of Central Asia, winter
temperatures drop well below freezing. For refugee families, the night time cold
can be lethal.

Without
help, many of the poor won't outlive the season. Yet, in one small city, 100 of the most
at-risk families are surviving, thanks in part to food aid provided by Southern
Baptists
and the World Hunger Fund.

"This
food comes at a very critical time for many needy people," said the project
director. "The weather now is extremely harsh — it was minus 12 degrees this
morning by my rooftop thermometer. I have seen dead animals in our own
neighborhood. The hospital is overflowing with patients with respiratory
diseases. We know of two babies in families of some of our local friends here
that have died this winter. The government officer in charge of the refugees
has been repeatedly asking us if we have heard if we can supply some food this
year. So this food aid is very timely. It is really a great answer to prayer."

The
refugee families fled to this city because of drought, famine, and fighting in
their hometowns, said Francis Horton, who with his wife, Angie, directs work
in Central and South Asia for Baptist Global Response. International aid groups haven't been
getting help into the most isolated rural areas, leaving many families with
little choice but to move somewhere where they could get help.

Some
non-food relief items like heating fuel, cook kits, and blankets are making it
in, but no other group was supplying food, Horton said.  This project is providing rice, flour, and
cooking oil to help. The supplies, purchased from donations to the World Hunger
Fund, will keep refugees going through the harshest months of winter for a cost
of about $50 each, notes Horton.

Whatever
jobs the refugees may be able to get during the warmer months — day labor
construction jobs and farming — are gone during severe winter weather, Horton
added. Heavy snowfall blocks highway access to their town, cutting off their
access to vital food aid. Food prices almost double because supplies are so
scarce.

"Salt
and light" projects like this offer an opportunity to demonstrate the compassion
of Christ and make a profound difference in the lives of people in desperate
need, he added.

"When
people are suffering so badly, we cannot stand idly by, claiming to be
followers of Jesus but ignoring requests for help," Horton said. "Because Southern
Baptists are a people who care about people in need, we not only have the
opportunity to respond to needs like this, but we also see the door opened for
long-term relationships and other projects that help people experience the kind
of lives God created them to enjoy."

Pray that each bag of food distributed would bless the families
that receive it. Pray that the partners in this project would be obedient and
faithful to live out the love of Christ among the people. Pray that the Lord
would heal the land and that the drought would end. Pray that fighting between
tribes, villages, and families would cease. Pray that the Lord will reveal Himself to these refugees, and that many would discover the abundant life He
offers.

 

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