More than 13,000 impoverished Christians in a South-East Asian country have been sustained with rice from a Barnabas-funded rice milling machine.
The machine represents an exciting new dimension in Barnabas Aid’s food.gives project, and is – in the words of our project partner – “providing a crucial lifeline” to hungry Christians.
Thanks to your generous donations, rice has been provided for 10,454 adults and older children along with 2,813 young children – a total of 13,267 Christians – in 120 locations (as of August 2023).
The number helped in this way has more than doubled since we first wrote about the rice milling machine for the July/August edition of our Barnabas Aid magazine.
A rice milling system serves to remove the husk and the bran layers, and produce an edible white rice kernel that is free of impurities. Unmilled rice can be stored for more than 12 months and once milled it can retain its quality for around 4-6 weeks in the open air.
Free rice is distributed to Christians who cannot afford to pay anything. Discounted rice is sold to pastors and other full-time Christian workers.
The project that keeps on giving
Rice bran, the outer layer of the rice kernel high in fat content, is also made available to Christian farmers to feed their animals. In turn, the animal manure can be used as an organic fertiliser that, God willing, will increase crop yields for rural Christians.
The rice milling machine has also provided employment for four Christian men. Two other Christian men are working for a small business start-up, a logistics company that oversees the distribution of the rice and aims to expand and provide logistical services to others.
Around 90 rural Christian women have been given opportunity through the rice mill to learn skills and gain experience in in logistics and office management.
Additionally, widow “Halia” – the impoverished Christian basket-weaver featured in Barnabas Aid magazine – now has a regular source of income from providing her baskets for use in the transportation of rice to churches.
Barnabas Aid funded the purchase of 260 tonnes of unmilled rice at the beginning of the project. It is hoped that a small proportion of the next rice purchase in year two will be self-funded.
“I thank God for this rice blessing”
The rice aid is crucial in a country that is one of the highest per capita consumers of rice in the world. Food inflation, running at more than 50% in early 2023, has left many of the country’s inhabitants, including large numbers of Christians, struggling to feed themselves.
Mrs “Sawan” is a farmer and young mother. Her husband pastors the impoverished rural church where she serves as a Sunday school teacher.
Sawan explained that in the local culture it is normal to share food with others in the community, even when there is not a great deal to go around. In that spirit it was decided to use the rice to make a soup that could be used to feed all the members of the church.
Sawan has a particular heart for the Sunday school children in her spiritual care. “How can they listen about Jesus when they are so hungry?” she asks. “I thank God for this rice blessing.”
Pastor “Kapano” leads another rural church. Each month he undertakes a 45-mile round trip along dirt tracks by motorbike to collect the Barnabas-funded rice aid for the members of his church. He explains that with food prices soaring and harvest another three or four months away this aid is urgently needed.
In July Pastor Kapano and the other church leaders decided to use the rice for a fellowship meal so that everyone could gather together to share God’s blessing and give thanks to Him.
Pray that the Lord will continue to prosper the rice milling project, and that He will use it to provide many more South-East Asian believers with rice that will sustain them in their time of great need.
Project reference: PR1555 (food.gives)