Southern Baptists have a reputation for responding generously and faithfully in times of crises around the globe. On Oct. 12, in observance of World Hunger Day, they can continue that support by providing funds for missionaries to use as they handle the challenges of famine and natural disasters.
In addition to receiving support from the Cooperative Program and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, many International Mission Board missionaries use gifts from the Southern Baptist World Hunger Fund to help provide food for people or help them grow it. According to recent studies, one in 12 people worldwide is malnourished, including 60 million children under the age of 5.
Every 3.6 seconds someone in the world dies of hunger.
In places like Ecuador, gifts to the World Hunger Fund are used for agricultural projects that help people find long-term solutions in tough times. Solutions range from animal vaccinations to advising farmers on better ways to grow food.
Helping the Quichua
In the Andes Mountains of Ecuador, missionaries Darrell and Rogene Musick have found ways to help the Quichua people — many of whom barely make enough money to provide for their families. Those who have jobs often work 12-hour shifts for the equivalent of $5. Many have to walk five or six miles to get to their jobs.
"I've only met one Quichua man out of 500,000 who owns a car," said Darrell, who began working among the Quichua with his wife in 2004.
Leaning on the skills they learned while operating a ranch in New Mexico, the Musicks used agricultural training to gain entrance to Quichua communities. The Musicks performed checkups on cows, sheep and pigs and treated them for parasites or diseases. They also trained farmers how to raise their own crops and take better care of their livestock.
"We show them they can make a living with natural resources that God has provided," Darrell said.
Once the Musicks completed training local Quichua, they had them sign an agreement to teach others what they learned.
"We make sure that everything we do is reproducible," Darrell said. "Like the old adage, it is better to teach them to fish than to give them a fish."
The Musicks' work hasn't been easy.
The Quichua often are skeptical of outsiders — especially Christians. Most of the Quichua put their faith in animism — a mix of beliefs in spirits and superstitions. Only 2 percent of the 300,000 Quichua in the province claim to have a relationship with Jesus Christ.
"There are a lot of communities we can't get into because of persecution (of Christians), so we use agriculture to get into those places to show them we care," Darrell said.
The Musicks have found their work among the Quichua not only helps them grow their own food but some have become more accepting of the gospel. Since beginning the project, the Musicks have seen 42 house churches start in northern Ecuador.
"Through these projects we can build trust," Darrell said.
"They ask, 'Why do you care about us?' We use that discussion as the gateway to share … that God cares for them, and as a result, we care for them."
In recent months, the Musicks have left the field for stateside assignment. They plan to begin similar work in Bolivia.
For more information on how you can help support these types of relief projects through giving to the World Hunger Fund, click on the human needs ministry link after going to the "Give" page on imb.org. Read more about the Musicks in this year's upcoming Week of Prayer materials.
(EDITOR'S NOTE — Since the inception of World Hunger Fund in 1974, Southern Baptists have given $230,877,650 through the fund. In 2007, Southern Baptists gave more than $5.5 million; in the first six months of 2008, $2.3 million has been received. )