Missionaries reinstate an emergency fund to aid West Africa’s famine.

By June 23, 2005

West Africa (MNN)–The food crisis in West Africa tops our news. Farmers and herders lost their livelihood to last year’s drought and locust infestation.

That puts millions at risk of starvation, mirroring the famine of Ethiopia. Evangelical Baptist Mission’s Chris Marine says they’re working to prevent further deterioration. “Back in the last drought, EBM established a West African relief fund that we have as a mission. It is used specifically to meet this kind of a need for people who are starving in West Africa.”

Farmers need seeds immediately to ensure an October 2005 harvest. Herders depend on animal feed distributions and veterinary services to keep their weakened animals alive.

Add to that an increase in food prices, and there is the formation of a devastating food crisis, especially in Mali, Benin, Mauritania and Niger.

EBM missionaries first started reporting a trickle of requests from people who would come to their compounds begging for food or money. Then, as the situation worsened, that trickle became a daily stream, threatening to become a flood.

That, Marine says, is when the leadership team took action. “We’ve not had to use that in recent years as much as back in the early 80’s. But we have instituted that relief fund again.”

Marine explains how the aid will help their work. “Our priority there is to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the community. But, many times, in an Islamic culture, you have to meet their needs first.”

In other words, if the stomach is rumbling too loudly, the words can’t be heard. So in cases like this, actions have to speak. Marine says, “You have to become a friend to them, and that takes years to do. So, as we open up and are available to meet the needs of the families, then, much of the time, they will then sit and listen to what we have to say about the Gospel.”

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