“The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light.” Isaiah 9:2
Africa is facing its worst famine in recent history as drought and conflict rage across more than a dozen countries. Many people have died already, and more than 20 million are at risk of starvation.
“Families have exhausted every means they have to survive,” said a United Nations representative. Food prices have tripled and even quadrupled in some places, making it almost impossible for families to buy more than one meal a day.
In South Sudan, where more than a million children are malnourished, a three-year, ongoing civil war has taken its toll. Crop production is down drastically, and at times, it is too dangerous for farmers to work in the fields. Dawa, a young mother of a toddler, said soldiers tied her husband to a tree and shot him in the chest. She hid in her home for an entire year, too scared to go out and work in her garden.
To escape the violence and hunger, nearly 1.5 million South Sudanese have fled across the border into Uganda. Thousands more are expected to arrive in the following months. The influx of refugees has put a strain on Uganda’s already limited resources. Aid agencies are pulling out of refugee camps in southern Uganda to help with the greater needs in the north, leaving widows and the elderly to fall through the cracks.
CAM staff members Glenn Zimmerman and Marcus Troyer visited Uganda in June and reported many serious needs. At one camp with nearly 53,000 refugees, there was only one place where people could get free water. To conserve the water, overseers turn on the water tap only at certain times. The team found other camps also in desperate need of clean water and other assistance. “There’s always a bottleneck at the water distribution centers,” said Marcus. “Water is a big problem.”
To assist in this difficult time, CAM plans to help with aid projects in Uganda, Nigeria, Kenya, and likely other famine-stricken countries. Through our contacts and staff on the ground, we plan to provide drinking water – including wells – and some food aid for widows, the elderly, and orphans. We also plan to supply seeds and fertilizer to help refugees in Uganda grow food.
The Most Severe Famine of All
In addition to the physical famine, a great spiritual famine spreads across the continent of Africa. In South Sudan, tribal people are gripped by violence, animistic worship, and a form of Christianity mixed with superstition. Many others have never heard of Jesus.
CAM has a tremendous opportunity to provide large quantities of Bibles and Bible story books in this dark part of the world. Our contacts are distributing the literature and teaching the Bible stories in very remote villages. In one village, a team member asked an older woman if anyone in the village knew about God. “No,” she replied, “We have no one to tell us about Him.”
Another team came upon the funeral of someone who had been murdered. The men from the village were gathering their spears to take revenge on the murderer, but the team persuaded them to listen to the story of the prodigal son. Later the villagers said hearing the story had prevented a great evil from happening. They now wanted to forgive instead of taking revenge.
Lack of a knowledge of God has contributed to the ongoing poverty in Africa, and many of its problems could be solved by practicing the teachings of the Bible. “Only the light of Truth will truly change South Sudan’s problems,” commented a CAM staff member who has been working in this region.