In Belarus, a needy Gypsy family planted a field of potatoes with the help of local believers. Their children waited eagerly, anticipating a bountiful harvest. But with the summer’s unusually hot temperatures and little rainfall, the plants withered and died.
Sorely disappointed, the children earnestly prayed that God would send potatoes for the coming winter. And God answered! Through caring believers, the family received several large bags of potatoes.
Like this family, people across Eastern Europe and Central Asia depend heavily on potatoes, especially in the winter months. A Ukrainian contact explains the important role potatoes play in his culture. “Our country is poor,” he says, “and . . . my father constantly had to travel elsewhere for work. The majority of our food, including provisions for the winter months, came from our garden. We never had the choice of ‘fish or beef’ because we understood that the only readily available and nourishing food was potatoes . . .
“There were times when we would run out of potatoes in the middle of winter. Then our mother would say, ‘Children, we have no more food!’ . . . If there were no potatoes, there was no food! That is [still] the understanding in Ukraine and the former Soviet Union.”
Providing potatoes for the poor
Contributions from our supporters make it possible to provide potatoes in Belarus, Ukraine, Romania, Kazakhstan, and other countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Many people in these countries are finding it increasingly difficult to afford food staples and other items. In many countries, this struggle is rooted in crippled economies, spiking food prices, drought, or limited job opportunities. The war in Ukraine has certainly deepened the struggle.
Potatoes provide a unique way to connect with local bodies of believers. In many cases, our contacts work through pastors to purchase and distribute potatoes in their churches and communities. The potatoes can be an encouragement and reminder to an impoverished Christian family that God and their brothers and sisters across the world care about their needs. Other times, a gift of potatoes speaks of Jesus to an unbelieving recipient.
The Donetsk region of Ukraine has faced brewing conflict and ongoing struggles for years. A contact in the region says, “In our churches, it is a momentous occasion when we are able to buy potatoes. All the children, youth, and fathers gather to help load and distribute the . . . potatoes. Many times, this is accompanied by tears of joy and gratitude. The morale is immediately lifted and so much happiness is seen on everyone’s faces.”
He continues, “These churches experience bouts of fear and anxiety due to the constant shelling that continues in their regions . . . The purchase of potatoes provides an incredible uplifting of spirits throughout the church!. . After these events, our churches are filled with joy and prayers of gratitude and praise.”
Please pray for families, elderly people, and others in Eastern Europe and Central Asia who find it increasingly difficult to put food on the table. Pray also for the staff members and pastors who distribute the gift of potatoes in Jesus’ name. Thank you and God bless you!
To help support the Potatoes For The Poor program, please click the link to give a one-time gift.