African famine relief at risk over security concerns

By October 18, 2011

Kenya (MNN) — Kidnappings five days ago from
the world's largest refugee camp in Kenya threatens relief efforts there.

A cell from
al-Shabaab, Somalia's Islamist jihadists, was immediately suspected of the
attack. As a result, there are growing
concerns that foreign staffers treating Somali famine victims are now prime

top security chiefs will pursue militants into Somalia. The camp in question, Dadaab, is filled with
nearly a half million Somali refugees fleeing war, drought and hunger. However, due to the kidnappings, the border
with Somalia will be closed.

the United Nations suspended some of their operations until things settle
down. The issue is a concern for Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) responding to the food crisis elsewhere in the
Horn of Africa.

Craig Dyer with
Bright Hope International says, "There have been
aid workers that have been killed, just as there have been Christian aid
workers that have been killed and Christians that have been killed."   

When asked if their work would face a slowdown due to the security
breach, Dyer said that was unlikely.  "On
the one hand, yes, there are these threats; on the other, the places that Bright
Hope is specifically engaged are peaceful, but desperately needy."

Bright Hope has developed a partnership with a small church
in Lodwar, Kenya. This church of about 30 people is helping feed over 1,200
people from the hardest-hit areas of Kenya, including Lokitang, Kerio, and
Kalokor. Dyer explains, "These churches themselves sometime
struggle with food needs, and there are members in the congregation that may also
be struggling."

This is where
Bright Hope International plays its greatest strength.They don't need to develop networks, either,
because those are in place. "We
work with the local church and say, 'Who would volunteer from your church to
deliver the necessary needs of the people that are coming to you?''" 

Bright Hope provides the means for the outreach, and the local
church body provides the hands. "They
have every spiritual gift within that church that God has given them. So, just
like our churches have people that are gifted with all different kinds of
abilities, there are people there that have the abilities, but maybe they just
don't have the resources."

In terms of cost-effectiveness, Dyer explains, "For
$20, we can feed a family of four for a week." A recent distribution saw the ingredients for
38,000 meals arranged. There were 400 bundles of cornmeal, 110 boxes of vegetable
fat, 9,600 bags of cornmeal and 2,640 tubs of oil distributed to
about 6000 people.

The distribution
was successful in terms of serving more needy communities and people. Dyer says it starts with "giving the cooking oil, salts, flour, rice, beans and maize; but
then oftentimes, they come and say, 'Why are you helping me?'" From there, says Dyer, "We'll take that as far as we can. If
it's sharing the Gospel and seeing someone come to Christ, that will be done. If
it's just 'Why' and they walk away, hopefully, that's enough to spur them on
to be considering 'Who is this God?'
and then come back and ask some more questions."

Even though Bright Hope teams are fairly well removed from the
greatest security risks, they need
prayer support. Dyer says, "Pray,
first, that God will keep providing the funds so that we can provide
another 38,000 meals next month. Second, pray that the clarity of the Gospel
message would be delivered."

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