Monday, October 5, 2009

An Empty Harvest

Last night I chatted on Skype with my closest friend from Vietnam. She only had a few minutes because she was busy overseeing relief efforts for those affected by typhoon Ketsana. The typhoon hit central Vietnam late last week destroying homes, flooding towns and fields, and ravaging the rice crop that most of Vietnam's people depend upon for their livelihood. Harvest time is quickly approaching, but Vietnam's rural poor will have nothing to reap from their flooded fields.

My friend wrote in a recent e-mail, "Over 44 communities where we have been working have been impacted by this storm. Most of these communities are totally dependent upon agriculture – they don’t have stores or markets – everyone has farms and they eat what they produce. However, they have lost all of their crops in what they describe as the worst storms they have ever experienced."

She adds later in the e-mail, "The areas are completely isolated as all of the bridges have collapsed. There is no transportation and no electricity. The little food that is left in the area is being sold for astronomical prices. While the situation is terrible now, it is catastrophic in the long term... With all of the crops gone they will face long term food shortages. Most will be forced to borrow at crippling interest rates (10% per month) in order not to starve."

My friend and her husband have worked with Food for the Hungry in Vietnam for more than a decade. They partner closely with local churches and church leaders. They train the churches to serve and support their communities and encourage them to undertake development projects with the resources they have available. These poor, rural churches have built homes, dug latrines, and even laid roads that connect villages to major highways and allow them to market their crops more effectively.

Now, these churches are trying to reach out to their communities with nothing to give. My friend writes, "The churches are doing all that they can to help. No one else that has been able to get there yet. As much as possible we would like to help the churches as they seek to serve. We would really appreciate your prayers- that God would provide for them and that He would use this storm to further His work in these areas."

I have never used this site to solicit help for Vietnam, but I am compelled to do so now. My friend and her husband are using their own savings to help churches provide immediate relief for their communities. They have a network of people in place who can reach those worst hit by the storm. Now they need to get rice and other staples into their hands. If you would like to help, please visit Food for the Hungry's donation page for Vietnam (click here).

Also, please pray for these churches and church leaders. Pray that they will demonstrate the love of Christ in their communities and that they will know how to offer hope to people who have lost everything.

*The Food for the Hungry donation page says that donations are for "Friends helping with Special Southeast Asia Relief." Any donations made on this site will go directly to our friends in Vietnam.