In the remote village of Busoka, Tanzania, rainfall is scarce and unpredictable. Families are quite poor, struggling constantly to secure food and the basics of survival. Many do not own land and have not had training in farming techniques on any scale. The spiritual landscape is equally dry. The prevalence of black magic and other traditional beliefs makes for very hard and rocky spiritual soil. The physical and spiritual landscape of the whole region is known much more for hardship than hope.
But one local church has been determined to sow the seeds of the gospel there. Seeing so many children who were clearly undernourished moved their hearts with compassion. The church founded Path Of Hope specifically as a children’s ministry, and began gathering children once a week. They did fun activities with them, taught Bible stories, and gained a better understanding of their most pressing needs. Path Of Hope soon became a ministry partner with Lahash so that sponsorship and holistic care could improve the kids’ lives. Because hunger was the most prevalent issue, Path Of Hope was a logical place for Lahash to direct funds that were raised through Rice and Beans Month.
Every year during March (or the Lenten season), Lahash invites its global community to participate in Rice & Beans Month by simplifying their meals on behalf of the hungry. Whether it’s one meal a week or three meals a day, the savings add up significantly and are donated to help feed hungry kids. Path Of Hope began by using the funds to serve cups of nutritious porridge to the kids at their gatherings. Then they organized a kitchen garden project in a village called Mwamalili. When a field came up for sale in Busoka, that too seemed like a perfect fit for Rice & Beans Month funds. Except for one problem.
There were no more Rice & Beans funds available for that year. They had all been earmarked or distributed. It was disappointing to send that news to Path Of Hope, and even more disappointing when they didn’t respond. They took the news hard, but they immediately began praying. “We just thought that there’s nothing we can do,” said Saggiah Wright, who was the Project Coordinator at the time. “But we keep the hope going, we don’t give up about this, because we knew that what we were thinking about was good… and so we decided just to pray about it. We did not respond to the Lahash email. We never wanted to say we are losing hope or something like that.”
As they were praying, an interesting donation arrived at Lahash. It contained a note from a new donor who sensed God prompting them to give specifically toward Rice & Beans Month. And the amount would perfectly cover the price of a certain field in Busoka.
“To us, it was just a miracle, and we saw God’s hands through that,” Saggiah said. Seeing this miracle increased the faith of the ministry leaders at Path Of Hope, but they weren’t the only ones whose faith was growing.
The kids in Busoka continued attending Sponsorship Program activities and many also began coming to church on Sundays. They learned songs and scripture verses, and absorbed the Bible teachings. Many of them also had the opportunity to attend the unforgettable adventure of Bible Camp. Most importantly, the Path Of Hope staff visited them at home in addition to being available at church. The kids began to grasp what the love of God meant in their lives because of the staff’s consistent powerful living example.
In the spring, Lahash received the exciting news from Path Of Hope that 22 of the kids in Busoka wanted to publicly express their love for God! They held a special baptism service in May where each child professed their commitment to following the ways of Jesus. It was a joyful celebration of these children finding their own “path of hope” through new life in Christ and connection to a community of faith.
Dedication and persistence also made a difference at the Busoka field. There was a lot to learn about how to cultivate, plant, and harvest. They started with just one acre, and are now cultivating rice on two acres. The most recent harvest was better than the previous one, and about 200 kg of rice was distributed to the families most in need of nutritional support. At the start of the next rainy season, they plan to cultivate 4 acres. Looking ahead, funds from Rice & Beans Month will help add a well and irrigation system on the land, so that crops can thrive regardless of the rains. They will expand until all ten acres are used to feed hungry families and even generate income through selling surplus rice.
Path Of Hope beautifully exemplifies the power of maintaining a long-term perspective. They have deepened relationships with the children and their families over time. They are developing farming projects at the field over time. They are already seeing the harvest of this faithfulness and cumulative effort, which increases hope for the possibilities ahead. “The step taken by the kids to be baptized is a significant milestone for the church at Busoka,” commented Eliza Chacha, the Assistant Director. “Out of this group, future church leaders will emerge, church evangelists will be born, and membership will grow. Their baptism is a sign of an expanded church in the future.”
Whether those who have participated in Rice & Beans Month realized it or not, every one of them played a part in the baptism of 22 kids in Busoka. The children and families in that village, most of whom have very little exposure to Christianity, needed to see that the church cared about the biggest problem they faced every day. As Path Of Hope worked to address physical hunger and intentionally build relationships, the kids were able to receive the message of the gospel. This global community of faith will continue to support the kids along their path of hope – hope that began with a simple meal.
Lahash partners with African churches to holistically care for vulnerable children. Across East Africa, voiceless and vulnerable people are struggling to find hope. Lahash is the Hebrew word for whispered prayer – a reminder that God is answering the prayers of many lonely and forgotten children through the compassionate care of our global community.
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