"The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion--to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified." - Isaiah 61:1-3
The year was 1980. Reports of a severe famine that had struck many regions in Africa were starting to surface in news outlets around the world. The ghastly images of poor, starving families were shocking to the public eye to say the least.
Missionaries Dick and Jane (pictured above) were faithfully serving to the best of their abilities at their mission base in Kenya, when folks started to arrive on-foot from neighboring regions and countries. Skeletal-framed and desperately hungry, the people were mere ghosts of what they ought to be.
Under the intense July sun, a man of skin-and-bones carrying a frighteningly thin little boy (pictured right) came meagerly walking into their mission site. "Take my son and make him live," the man pleaded.
As the frail man recounted their journey, the sad story of the two became clear. The father and his son, Lou, had walked out of Uganda in search for food. Lou's mother died from cholera caused by contaminated drinking water, and his sister starved to death along the way. The father carried Lou the rest of the distance because he was too weak to even walk on his own, with no muscle tissue left in his little body.
By God's grace, Dick and Jane had preemptively applied for emergency assistance from IDES in order to provide nutritious food to anyone and everyone whom came to their mission in Kenya. Thanks to IDES' faithful donors, and most importantly to God, Dick and Jane were able to start Lou and his father on a feeding program to help them each regain strength.
Dick and Jane ministered to their needs and explained to them that it was Jesus-followers who had donated the money through IDES to provide food for them to live. The compassionate love of God was lavished on them as they heard about the gift of Jesus Christ for the first time.
Just when you think the story couldn't possibly get any better, it does. Lou eventually came to know Jesus as Lord and Savior, grew up healthfully to be 6'4" tall, and went on to earn a college degree in Communications. He has since been working as an executive for the Kenya Postal Department, but is planning on retiring from the position so that he can take on full-time ministry at the very mission that saved his life. Lou's story also inspired the start of the SonFish Bank program at IDES, which raises thousands of dollars each year for hunger relief projects around the world.
IDES recently undertook a large-scale Hunger Relief project in November of 2015 to provide food for those who have suffered from the current drought in Kenya. The drought has caused many farmers' crops to fail for the year, so the focus is to subsidize the supply of maize (corn), particularly to the most vulnerable people in the population. Part of the project was completed by Lou himself.
Lou wrote to IDES after the distribution about some of the recipients:
"We also gave 8 bags from general allocation to the elderly, widowed, persons living with disability and orphaned/vulnerable children in Kiwawa Area. We had a special case in Paghiat area in which an entire family is disabled. We gave them 2 bags of Maize. The Father is blind and paralysed in both legs, the Mother and Son's legs are also paralysed, which seems as a very rare case" (pictured below).
Another partner missionary in Kenya also reported after distribution:
"Many non-believers have turned their lives to the Lord due to the distribution and compassion shown by IDES to the Pokot people...The school numbers are increasing due to the availability of the famine food. The always grimy faces of the children and the old are now shinning bright and their muscles are getting stronger each day. The old are now able to walk around and go fetch firewood unlike before. We are now seeing children playing their normal games with lots of joy, thanks to the help from IDES."
Now that's a story worth sharing. Praise God for His abundant goodness! He alone is the living God who takes the poor and the hungry and lifts them up to become "oaks of righteousness" (Isa. 61). And He will continue to do so as the earth keeps spinning.
There are still thousands upon thousands of precious souls that are suffering from hunger around the world at this very moment. Thanks to our Lord Jesus Christ and doors He has opened for His children to serve, you can make an incredible difference. Your support of IDES' hunger relief efforts helps write more stories of victory each day.
If you would like to make a donation to the IDES Hunger Relief fund, follow this link: Donate
If you would like to "purchase" a hunger relief item from the Annual Gift Catalog, follow this link: Gift Catalog
If you are interested in more information on SonFish Banks, follow this link: SonFish