As I see report after report of the destruction caused by hurricanes, earthquakes, and flooding, my thoughts turn to the crisis in South Sudan.
The images are chillingly similar. A woman stands amid the wreckage of her home in Houston, knee deep in water. A child in South Sudan stands beside a tarp upheld by a few sticks, wading in muddy water.
In a dimly lit church building on a mountainside in rural Haiti, Pastor Samuel bows his head and prays. He prays for the mother whose child is sick again, for the father who cannot provide his family with enough food to eat, for the grandmother whose sickness is only getting worse and for the fate of his wavering community.
With cracked and calloused hands resting heavy on his knees, Pastor Samuel whispers an amen and lifts his head again. As if he weren’t busy enough preparing for sermons, counseling villagers and praying earnestly on behalf of the sick and the needy in his village, sixty-something-year-old Pastor Samuel has just returned from his daily 6-mile round-trip trek back up the mountain from the local market. Continue reading A Pillar of Hope, A Pastor to the Hopeless
One year ago, World Concern staff were evacuated from Wau, South Sudan, when armed conflict broke out in the area where we’re working. Although our team was able to resume work within a few weeks, for tens of thousands of people, life is far from returning to normal. More than 40,000 are still homeless and living in squalid camps around Wau. Continue reading Homeless – but not without hope – in South Sudan
Psalm 116:15 says, “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his faithful servants.”
Many of you have heard the sad news of the death of a World Concern staff member in South Sudan. Akol Akol was playing soccer and sustained an injury, was rushed to the local hospital where he died 30 minutes later. He was a much beloved staff member who knew the Lord, and worked as a peace maker in his community.
Peter Macharia, our Africa Area Director, wrote this word of tribute:
“I’ll miss Akol Akol. He started soccer teams in Magai and Mayen and the young team loved it a lot. Through soccer he would share the love of Christ and engage young men on how to better their lives and stay away from crime. When I last visited South Sudan he asked me for more soccer balls. He also brought me his new wife to say ‘hi.’ They were expecting a baby.
He was deeply loved by all those that met him. He was also deeply passionate about his work, loved World Concern, was always eager to learn, and full of laughter. When he joined World Concern in 2012, he couldn’t speak a word of English, but within a very short time, he would engage in an English conversation as if it was his mother tongue. He longed to see Magai and Mayen transformed. We will definitely miss him. We are praying for his dear wife.”
Our team in South Sudan thanks you for your prayers. They spent today with Akol Akol’s family. We are praying for God’s comfort and the peace that passes all understanding to stand guard over their hearts. Through it all, we trust in the goodness and mercy of our Lord, knowing that this is not the end. We take comfort in that blessed hope of life everlasting with our Lord.
We are so grateful for the opportunity to have known and served with such a kind and good heart. We pray now for his family and our precious team in South Sudan as they grieve this great loss.
“First they lied to me; they told me it was a good workplace with a high salary…I believed them…”
When it comes to human trafficking, there’s no rules or road maps on how the $150 billion industry operates and there’s certainly no discrimination when it comes to victims of trafficking.
We often talk about girls and women who are sold into sex trafficking, but the truth is, this deceptive and heinous crime lures and threatens the lives of boys, girls, men and women alike. And those living in Southeast Asia are at an even greater risk.
It wasn’t until recently that Lao-native, Kanoa (not his real name), realized he had been the victim of human trafficking. Only 15 years old at the time, Kanoa found himself working as a modern day slave before risking his life and escaping the horrifying situation. After attending a few workshops at his village’s local youth trafficking awareness center, Kanoa finally worked up the courage to tell his story, for the very first time. Here’s what he said:
“My parents separated when I was young because of alcohol problems and domestic violence. My father drank a lot of alcohol and gambled. After they separated, my father disappeared in the war. Everyone assumes he died, but no one really knows.
My mother went to Thailand many years ago. She never came to visit. Later, she came back for 20 days, and then she died.
When my parent died, I was just five years old. I moved around to wherever I could find a job. Sometimes I would pick coffee beans…or work on a construction site. Other times I would fix motorbikes. Whatever would help me to survive.
One day a family asked me to stay with them. They were so kind to me, so I called them mother and father. I lived with them until I was 11 years old. Then I chose to go work in Thailand illegally. Again, I did everything, whatever an employer asked me to do – like shrimp farming, animal raising, cleaning and construction.
I worked with them about four or five years, and then they sold me to the fishing ship. First they lied to me; they told me it was a good workplace with a high salary. I believed them.
While I was on the fishing ship; people forced me to work without salary and they treated me and other co-workers like animals. They forced us to work very hard and they hurt us like non-living things.
Whenever people couldn’t work for them anymore, including people who tried to run away, they just killed them and threw them into the sea. When people tried to run away and hide, the ship owners would track them down and kill them. Sometimes people ran to the police for help. But the police just sold them back to the cargo ship, again.
I was on the fishing ship for one year. I couldn’t sleep well every single night. I was scared. I was worried. I planned to run away.
One day the fishing ship docked to pick up more workers; while the situation was messy as the crew focused on imprisoning the new workers, I took that opportunity to run away. I ran into the forest. They tried to find me and kill me, but they didn’t find me. I spent 3 days in the forest hiding from them without any food and water.
Finally, I decided to go to the police even though I feared that they would sell me back to the fishing ship. But I was lucky. The police helped me and sent me back to Laos.
It was horrible; the hardest time in my life ever. Sometime I was thought that if I couldn’t run away I would commit suicide by jumping into the water.
I never shared this story with anyone before. The first time I shared was with the youth and World Concern team at the Youth Center.
The reason why I never talk about this story is might be caused from no one asking me about my life in Thailand and I didn’t know who should I talk to. When I came to the youth center I felt that I had friends who would listen to me… I feel safe to share.
At first, it hurt me a lot and I just want to forget it all; I don’t want to talk about it again but I feel better after sharing this story with friends and people around me.
Kanoa’s story is only one of millions of others just like it, and sadly, most of them will remain untold. Kanoa was just 5 years old when he was left an orphan, alone and vulnerable to the countless threats around him. It’s children just like this who we are working to protect and keep safe. For just $48, YOU can protect a child just like Kanoa from becoming a victim of child trafficking.
Every parent knows what it’s like to care for a sick child—the uncertainty, the frustration, even the fear.
For me, what always gets me is the moment I realize I can’t comfort my son. Or when he complains about something that I can’t possibly solve on my own. It’s heartbreaking because I want to be his protector, his hero, and make everything right again.
Most parents would gladly trade places with a sick child. And this is Alexi’s lament right now.
“When my son gets sick, it’s like I am sick too,” he says as his little boy sits quietly on his knee.
Lew is Alexi’s youngest (and sickest) son. All his children have been sick at one time or another, and all with the same symptoms—severe diarrhea, constant nausea, horrible stomach pain. This father is very familiar with effects of intestinal worms, some of which come and go, but Lew’s problems are persistent. And the worms are refusing to move.
“He’s really suffering right now,” Alexi tells me. “If it’s not the pain in his tummy, it’s the fevers. It’s one or the other and I don’t know what to do.”
This father of six lives in Haiti, high up in the hills and far removed from anything we would describe as livable. There is no medical clinic in this village, not even running water. There are no faucets. No flushing toilets. No place to bathe.
This is why Lew is so sick. The dirty water and unsanitary conditions are the perfect breeding ground for parasites. These nasty worms are now multiplying in Lew’s belly and sapping all the nutrients from his tiny body. The cure for this horrible condition?
But Alexi can’t afford it, and that was the reason I was visiting him. Thanks to the generosity of donors, World Concern is distributing these life-changing tablets to hundreds of sick Haitian kids.
The 44-Cent-Cure is the most cost-effective solution to poverty’s biggest problem.
Within days of taking the pill the worms are dead, Lew is cured, nutrients are being absorbed back into his body and he’s able to return to school and enjoy life as a happy, healthy child.
Alexi is a farmer, or at least was until Hurricane Matthew destroyed his crops.
Now, Alexi survives day-to-day, working odd jobs to scrape together enough money for the occasional meal and to send his kids to school. He’s planted some corn and some grain, but the plants are not even close to harvest yet.
So this single father does what he can and puts on a brave face. Yet he admits even this is getting harder and harder to do. Especially since Lew has been so sick.
“I am responsible for him and have no time to cry,” he whispers, not wanting his son to hear how difficult things are. “I must work.”
In just a few days, the pill that we gave Lew will have killed all the worms in his belly. His fevers will be gone. The nausea and diarrhea will be gone. And Alexi can return to work.
Alexi and I have something in common. We are both dads and dearly love our kids. We love Jesus. We both work. And we both want our families to be healthy.
After praying together, Alexi and I shook hands. And that’s when his story really hit home for me. Our hands could not have been more different. His are strong; his palms calloused and his fingers tough and weathered. Mine are the exact opposite. We have lived vastly different lives.
The biggest difference though? I am in a position to help.
With all that’s happening across our world, we wanted to take a moment and thank you for all that you’re doing. The work of World Concern happens because of you—your prayers and your faithful support. And it’s through you, that Christ is shared, and lives are changed. This poem, written by a young Bangladeshi girl that was saved from child marriage, illustrates your impact perfectly.
Oh my dear World Concern,
From far away you are praised,
Your wondering works will never fade away.
You lightened up so many lives,
You will stay always in our hearts
Wiped out the darkness from our lives
You gave us a fulfilled life
Oh my dear World Concern.
As you ponder this precious girl’s thoughtful words, we want to leave with a reminder from Jacinta Tegman, the World Concern president, who shared a few years ago the reason for the season, and why our journey with the poorest people can be so life-changing.
With this in mind, we encourage you to pray about how you can show the love of Christ to a family that’s waiting for hope, and healing this Christmas.
Merry Christmas from everyone at World Concern!
As we celebrate this special time of year, it is a wonderful time to remember that God himself came to earth. What is so extraordinary is that He chose to identify with the poor and marginalized. He gave up all of His splendor, was born in a stable, and laid in a manager.
In 2 Corinthians 8:9 we read, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor.”
The heart of God is close to those who are poor, forgotten, and alone. Of all the classes and peoples on earth, He chose to identify with them. He lived and walked among them. He knew their pain and struggles. He opened His arms to bless and heal them.I am keenly aware that God continues to walk with the poor. He does that through you and me. I see it every day.
This Christmas, amidst all the joy we will experience, let us pause and remember. Join me in prayer for the poor and marginalized—those close to God’s heart.
Campbell Auto Group, a host of family-run car dealerships in the greater Seattle area, has had a unique way of supporting the work of World Concern for the past seven years. And every Christmas, they do something incredible.
In an effort to change lives around the world through their Drive Away Poverty: Buy a Car, Give a Goat campaign, Campbell Auto Group partners with us and the community by donating a goat for every car sold in November and December.
The impact? Changing thousands of lives around the world each Christmas! Over the years, they have given more than 3,000 goats to families in need around the world in places like Bangladesh and Haiti.
“Goats are a very tangible way for us to help people suffering from dire economic circumstances in some of the poorest countries in the world,” explains owner Kurt Campbell. Kurt has had the opportunity to travel with World Concern to some of our projects in Sri Lanka and witness the incredible impact a goat can make in someone’s life.
“Many years ago I had the opportunity to see firsthand the power of a 4-legged bank account,” says Kurt, “The idea of giving a family a goat is so simple it’s brilliant…they are hearty animals that already live in some of the toughest regions in the world…this amazing animal can provide a healthy diet and income that will allow these families a brighter future.”
Kurt and his team look forward to this special season every year and even incorporate live goats into their TV commercials! Posters of children with their goats from around the world can be found decorating their showrooms along with stuffed animal goats.
“We make sure every customer who buys a car from us receives a stuffed goat as a reminder of the difference their purchase makes in the lives of others,” Kurt explains, “Sometimes it seems customers are more excited about their stuffed goats than their new cars which is saying a lot!”
We’re so grateful for businesses like Campbell Auto Group that choose to partner with us in such a profound way during the Christmas season, allowing the community to have an impact in changing lives around the world.
Give a goat, change a life. If you’re anything like me, you may be asking yourself, How does that work? This time of year, we talk a lot about goats and the impact they can have on a person’s life; especially those living in extreme poverty in places like Haiti and Southeast Asia.
Maybe you’ve seen our photos of cute kids from around the world with their goats playfully draped around their necks and maybe you’ve even given the gift of a goat to someone in need, but have you ever wondered if and how a goat can really change a life?
For me, it wasn’t until I heard Khuki’s story that I began to understand…
Khuki is among the poorest of the poor in her low caste community in Bangladesh. For her, every single day is a struggle. Growing up, she barely had enough food to eat or a shelter to sleep under, let alone the opportunity to go to school. Life after childhood only became more difficult for Khuki.
Like many young girls whose parents can’t afford to care for their children anymore, Khuki was married off by the time she just 15 years old. Five years and almost three children later, Khuki’s husband began abusing her and eventually left Khuki for another woman. Unfortunately, this situation is not uncommon for many women like Khuki, who end up alone, rejected and without any hope in a country that does not typically value women.
Pregnant with her third child and fearful that her two daughters would starve, Khuki had no other option but to go door-to-door begging her neighbors for help. Khuki had reached the end of her rope.
Soon after her son was born, she heard about World Concern’s micro-credit program for the poorest women in her community. She learned how something as simple as a goat given to women just like her —widows, the poor, the hungry and the uneducated—can help give them a second chance. This was the opportunity that Khuki needed to get her life back on track.
Before she knew it, Khuki finally had a stable source of income. She was now the proud mother of three children and one kid goat. Khuki began selling the goat’s milk, allowing her to earn a stable income, save money, and eventually purchase more goats. For the first time in her life, Khuki is able to provide for herself and her family. More than that, she now has a sense of worth and dignity that she has never known before.
“I understand the importance of education and sending my children to school,” Khuki explains, “…the support has opened new doors for me and my family.”
In fact, recently, Khuki has been able to build a small home for her and her children to live in, something she never before would have thought possible. And to think, it all started with a goat!
Now through midnight tonight, Tuesday, November 28th, your gift will multiply when you give a goat to someone just like Khuki, changing not one but two lives this Christmas season!