From the beginning of creation, we see how food is not only a source of substance, but also a connection to our relationship with God.
“Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed.” Genesis 2:8
With disobedience, came consequences.
“To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow, you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are
and to dust you will return.” Genesis 3:17-19
Anyone who has every planted a vegetable garden fully understands the “painful toil”, along with the “thorns and thistles”. Every gardener has wiped sweat from their brow. Gardening is demanding work, but the rewards are plentiful. Watching the tiny seed grow into a tall plant with plenty of fruit truly demonstrates God’s provision. There is nothing as tasty as a tomato, warmed by the sun and plucked straight off the vine.
Unfortunately, food scarcity exists in many areas of the world. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations gives the following report in regard to food scarcity.
“After remaining virtually unchanged for five years, the prevalence of undernourishment increased from 8.4 percent in 2019 to around 9.9 percent in 2020, meaning that between 720 and 811 million people in the world faced hunger in 2020 – as many as 161 million more people than in 2019. Beyond hunger, the outlook is also discouraging. For the global prevalence of moderate or severe food insecurity, the estimated increase in 2020 was equal to that of the previous five years combined. Thus, nearly one in three people in the world (2.37 billion) did not have access to adequate food in 2020 – an increase of almost 320 million people in just one year. In the last ten years, the frequency and intensity of conflict, climate variability and extremes, and economic slowdowns and downturns have increased significantly. The increased occurrence of these major drivers, often exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, has led to a rise in hunger and has undermined progress in reducing all forms of malnutrition, particularly in low- and middle-income countries.”1
Psalms 104:14 tells us that God has made a provision, but persistence is needed to actualize it. “He makes grass to grow for the cattle, and plants for people to cultivate-bringing forth food from the earth.”
Medical Ambassadors International (MAI) has been using Community Health Evangelism (CHE) to counter food insecurity.
A recent story from Uganda demonstrates the result of CHE to a community facing food scarcity. A few years ago, MAI trainer, Samuel Ariho, attended the CHE internship in Nairobi. He then took what he learned into Northern Uganda to teach the people how to achieve food security in their area. Samuel shared that even though COVID-19 restrictions slowed down many activities in Uganda, the CHE trainings were not affected. While Samuel was limited in travel for training and follow up, the CHE groups worked hard and had much success. An agronomist visited, training the groups on top dressing and fertilizer application. The groups worked together to plant cabbage, onion, and tomato nurseries, which they later transplanted to a larger field.
Despite the low rainfall, the group members persisted in watering their gardens and this yielded impressive results. They sold some of the tomatoes they have harvested, using the money to re-invest back in the farm. Most of the group members are now growing these crops on their own farms while still participating in the group farming. Some community members, having seen the success of the group farming, have been challenged to start their own gardens as well.
In another example, July 2021, thousands of Caribbean community members took to the streets on to protest a lack of food and medicine as the country experienced a grave economic crisis aggravated by the Covid-19 pandemic and other restrictions. The island faced its worst food scarcity since the 1990s. Finding ingredients was never easy in a place which imports around 70% of its food, but at this time, it was nearly impossible.
During times such as this, the people can feel very alone. One CHE community took the initiative to bring neighbors together by organizing a local board of directors to help them: an agronomist, an administrator, an organizer, and an economist with experience in cooperative work. This had to be done by word of mouth because this country does not allow communities to legalize these initiatives or make decisions.
This group of neighbors with portions of land included eleven brothers, the MAI CHE Coordinator and other CHE Facilitators. When everyone came together, there was a total of thirty hectares (74.13 acres) of land available to be farmed. Pulling resources together, the people were able to harvest peanuts, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, beans, bananas, and yucca.
As the harvest is collected, a portion of it is contributed to the work of God-supporting the sick and most needy. People support each other and the farmers are happy. One of them testified, “I no longer feel isolated trying to survive.”
According to the UN, the global population will be close to ten billion people by 2050. 2 As the population continues to grow, it is necessary that food production and food accessibility grow to match it.
MAI is looking ahead into the future with hopes to counter food insecurity around the world through CHE. We invite you to join us in our endeavor. Learn more about CHE here.