Community circulates food and SD cards by hand
By Tianna Haas | West Africa
An SIM couple, Ruth* and Stephen*, helped their West African community become couriers of food and SD cards to more than 100 households going hungry due to COVID-19’s hold on the economy.
Ruth explained: “We knew people were starting to struggle not just with the illness part, though there are many confirmed cases now and the number is rapidly increasing. They were really starting to struggle with food for their families and feeling the economic impact of COVID-19 on their daily work.”
The couple contacted 10 of their friends, some Christian and some of the area’s other major religion, and invited them to choose nine of their own friends to whom they could give resources. Ruth and Stephen saw these 10 initial friends as ‘hands’ who could extend help farther than they could alone.
Acting anonymously themselves but bearing the name of Christ, Stephen and Ruth paired the food with a note that said, ‘This provision is given in the love of Jesus.’ They loaded the SD cards with the ‘God’s Story’ video, the JESUS film, dramatised New Testament segments and helpful public service announcements, all in two local languages.
Ruth said: “We wanted to share the love of Jesus. We wanted to share the good news while we were meeting physical needs.”
"We wanted to share the love of Jesus. We wanted to share the good news while we were meeting physical needs."
Closed state borders prevented them from being able to buy SD cards from their usual supplier, forcing them to find a more local supplier who was open and willing to duplicate the material. “We were saying, ‘Lord, how are we going to do this? How are we going to share the good news?’ … It was so cool how God provided,” said Ruth.
They asked a church member, Isaac*, who is known for his technology skills if he knew of any sellers, and a few days later, he had found one. Fortunately, the supplier was stocked with micro-SD cards, the size compatible with phones and accessible for most recipients. Isaac also offered to duplicate the material and charged little for his assistance.
Deborah*, another friend who runs a grain store, delivered corn, beans, oil, salt and seasoning in large quantities. Ruth said: “The sacks of corn – maize is one of the staple foods here – weighed about 110 pounds. And the sacks of dried beans weighed 120 pounds. So, we’re talking big sacks for each of those households. It was a significant amount of food.”
The group of 10 ‘hands’ met Ruth and Stephen at the local church headquarters to pick up the food and five to 10 SD cards each. They were also each offered a face mask if they didn’t have one.
Ruth said: “We had already asked our friends, ‘Are you comfortable offering these SD cards when you give out the food? No obligation for the recipients to accept them, but could you please offer them?’ Even our friends who aren’t Christians had no problem.”
For some recipients, the food came at an urgent time as they had just cooked their last meal. Others were in tears as they expressed gratitude. One man, who used to work in the fabric- dying industry and was still connected with this community, said he couldn’t just give to nine other households. So, he divided the corn and beans between as many of his former co-workers’ families as he could.
Ruth said, “We had some of the ‘hands’ stop by the house and say, ‘Thank you so much! Could we please have some more SD cards?’ Three out of the four that came by were actually not Christians.”
One of these friends came back and shared his religious celebration with Ruth and Stephen with a gift of food. Ruth said, “It was very special … He said, ‘Those SD cards are so important. People keep asking for them. Could I have more?’ So, we gave him ten more, and he could probably distribute as many as we would give him.”
Soon, Ruth and Stephen plan to revisit the ‘hands’ or find a different group of friends to assess the level of need for another food distribution accompanied by the message of redemption through Christ.
Serve with SIM
Ruth’s regular ministries include teacher training and English classes for women. Her English classes use Bible stories to nurture reading and speaking skills. Some city leaders welcome these classes and invite Ruth and others to teach in new locations.
However, there aren’t enough teachers, especially female teachers, to come alongside her and minister, though the communities are ready. Will you serve with Ruth? Contact SIM today.
• God will use the gift of food and SD card content to draw many to himself.
• Ruth and Stephen will form relationships with their friends and community and continue representing the love of Christ to their neighbours.
• Families will be able to work again soon in safety.
*Names changed for security.