There wasn’t enough food in Ibba, Hillary explains. ‘The community didn’t have enough to eat and the people in the church didn’t have enough to eat. So how could the church help the most vulnerable, when they themselves didn’t have enough food for themselves?’
It wasn’t a rhetorical question. World Relief stepped in with a helping hand and trained the church leaders in farming. Now there are 20 groups with 15 or more farmers in each group. World Relief provides the seeds, tools and training and now, thanks to them, people have enough to eat.
The programmes benefit over 120 families in Ibba by using simple and available resources like refuse water from the kitchen to allow families to plant their own small garden.
Faith in action
Hillary’s humility and passion is evident as he explains what motivates him to serve his countrymen in so many practical ways. ‘This is the mission of Jesus. What we are doing at World Relief is what Jesus has asked us to do.
‘I know God and I love Him. And I love the Church. But when I see them struggling to fix things without external support, it is hard for me. I believe that if we can give them a helping hand, the local church can make a big difference in the lives of those suffering.’
Hillary’s grandfather was an Anglican pastor in South Sudan and says he considers his grandparents his greatest role models. ‘Though my grandparents didn’t go to school, they taught me much. They trained me up in the Lord. My grandmother championed the opening of a church in Yei River State before she passed on. I knew that if my grandparents could do this, then perhaps I could even do more.’
Doing even more
And Hilary is helping to do even more. When the Cassava crop became affected with disease in Ibba, World Relief brought in a new variety, educating the church leaders on how to multiply the crop to share amongst many farmers.
The initiative was so successful the farmers ended up growing so much excess food that they recently sold 12.4 tonnes of grain to the UN to save the lives of other starving South Sudanese. In a country fraught with famine, this is an amazing ministry.
World Relief started small savings groups because receiving a fair loan or saving money is almost impossible for the majority of people in South Sudan without ready access to a bank. Members add money to a shared box, and each week a different person uses the money to open a restaurant or start a small business selling tea or vegetables.
Of course, no programme or community is perfect. Hillary is well aware that the community relies on World Relief’s support. Together with his team, Hillary is encouraging the community to be self-sufficient wherever possible.
World Relief run workshops on community transformation, reconciliation, unity and vision – helping churches to come forward and care for vulnerable people in their communities.
As a result, a number of churches have built new ‘tukels’ (small African-style homes) for widows and the elderly. They are also creating gardens which provide food and clothing for people who are starving, and giving seeds to people to start their own gardens.
With World Relief’s support, villages are enacting grassroots transformation – putting church back at the heart of the community.
And an end to isolation?
Hillary and his team are very grateful for MAF. ‘We couldn’t do anything without MAF. The planes and pilots are instrumental for our project in Ibba. Without MAF, Ibba is like an island that we just can’t reach because the roads are so insecure.’
It is inspiring for MAF to serve and pray for those like Hillary and his colleagues at World Relief as they continue putting the Gospel into action. It makes us wonder if we, like Hillary, can do even more?