Now as you excel in everything — in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in utmost eagerness, and in our love for you — so we want you to excel also in this generous undertaking. — 2 Corinthians 8:7
While in northern Nigeria, I visited a rural community of farmers and overheard a group of women discussing the upcoming planting season.
“We might not get enough produce from the farm this year,” said Jumai Aminu, a mother of five children. Another farmer, Binta Magaji, said, “God will always show us mercy and help.”
The dry season had just ended. Dust from the fields and playgrounds filled the air as people rode on motor bikes. Herds of cattle and flocks scattered dried dusty stalks as chickens scratched the ground in search of food.
The thoughts of impending malnutrition and health concerns on the minds of these farmers are echoed in many other rural communities throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Mennonite Central Committee works to address these concerns.
In Kenya and Mozambique, sand dams provide fresh water, strengthening the capacity for food production. Trainings on innovative conservation farming techniques, and vegetable gardening in rural communities of Mozambique’s Tete Province, can also be extended to other rural communities.
MCC’s work around the world informs our advocacy work in Washington. The U.S. today is the highest donor country in core contributions to multilateral organizations supporting development. But some U.S. policymakers are working to reduce foreign assistance in the current budget discussions, saying there are not enough “results” from our investment.
This way of thinking reflects a cloistered approach that too narrowly defines “success.” Accountability and transparency are important indicators of good financial management, and it is important that U.S. assistance be carried out efficiently and well. We must also recognize the intangible results that come from poverty-focused assistance. Our responsibility to render healthy assistance that leads to greater well-being of the needy should not restricted by targeted results (Deut. 30:11).
As Christians, we can model the practice of giving unconditionally (2 Cor. 9:4-15). This practice transforms the institutional character or collective act into a personalized humbling experience of love that is found while assisting others.
When integrity, diligence and resilience are exhibited in continued giving, it signifies the presence of God. As Prov. 21:26 says, “The righteous give and do not hold back.”
Generous giving to MCC allows us to help alleviate the suffering of those afflicted by poverty, hunger or protracted conflict in Nigeria, Kenya, Mozambique and elsewhere.
But as a community of believers, let us not forget to also continually advocate for increased funding for international poverty-focused development and humanitarian assistance.
In the words of Pope Francis, “We are called to confront the poverty of our brothers and sisters, to touch it, to make it our own and to take practical steps to alleviate it.”
Charles Kwuelum is Legislative Associate for international affairs in the MCC U.S. Washington Office. Reprinted with permission from Mennonite World Review. Originally published on May 11, 2015.