This is been an incredible month of caring for hungry and hurting people. More than 4370 families received food through the food distributions. Thank you so much to our amazing COH family, you gave generously and quickly to meet this need!
We had the opportunity to interview Pastor Ernest Phiri, COH Malawi Director, about the distribution and some of his thoughts on what happened there at the Grace Center.
Pastor, tell us about the situation in Malawi? Last year during the harvest, I realized that people had not harvested much corn. I could see how empty their corn cribs were. I began telling Karen that it would be a difficult year in February and March. We were able to purchase about 300 bags of corn that we stored for distribution during the hunger time. But I had no idea how many people would come looking for food.
What happened the first few days as people began running out of food. At first, just a few people came to get food. We gave out corn to 10 or 15 people the first few days. Some were coming from long distances and would faint as they arrived at the gates to the Grace Center. About 1 week into the distribution of corn, we had 30 people show up one day. That night I had a dream and in the dream there were hundreds of people looking for food. The next day we distributed corn to more than 500 families. By the end of the day, all the food we had saved for the two months was gone and we were at the beginning of the second week of the hungry season!
This day in late February, when 500 families came to get corn was the beginning of what we can only describe as miraculous. In total we purchased about 1000 bags of corn. By God's grace and blessing, more than 1800 bags of corn were distributed to more than 4370 families. I will let you do the math!
Were you surprised how many people received corn? Karen and I had prayed and asked Jesus to feed his people. We prayed for the money to purchase corn, we prayed to find corn. We prayed with expectation. I am in awe of God's provision. He has done a marvelous thing and I am so thankful. But I am not surprised. We asked him to provide and he did. This reminds me of the story of Jesus feeding the 5000. He says to his disciples, "You feed them." He knew what he was going to do, but he told his disciples to do their part, too. That's just what we did. We used our money to buy corn, Jesus multiplied it so that every one was fed.
What happened the last day of food distribution? On the last day, we had about 100 bags of corn left. As soon as I saw the crowd, my heart became very hot. I knew that there was not enough corn. I saw people who were so weak they couldn't walk, others were nearly fainting at our feet. We divided the corn into bags (20 kg each). We made a huge pile of bags and as people would come by, they would drop off their empty bags. One group would take those bags and refill them while others were calling names and distributing the full bags. People just kept coming and coming! We had a long list of names from all the people who had come on previous days, but each day we had run out of corn before everyone was fed. All day, we kept calling names and people kept coming to get corn. We just kept filling bags with more and more corn. At the end of the day, we called the last person's name. They came and took their bag of corn. There was no one left standing at the gate. Everyone was fed. I told the men to gather the remaining bags. There were 10 partially filled bags left over! Just like in the bible!
What was your motivation for feeding people, Pastor? My motivation comes from the book of James, 'Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food...and you say, 'Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well'-- but then you don't give that person any food...what good does that do?" Jesus said, "You feed them." And so we did!
This picture gallery of people receiving bags of corn gives you just a little hint of the crowds that came every day through the month of March. A few people still come every day and are still being assisted.
The Faces of the One
Many times we become overwhelmed by the many. How can we ever care for so many people? Why are so many people living in hunger and poverty? We always want to keep in mind that it is the one who is important. One grandma fed. One baby satisfied. One father able to feed his family. One mother smiling in relief. Thank you for helping one family! Together, we helped many!