Ministry uplifts impoverished families by supporting fathers

International (MNN) — Father’s Day is just around the corner, and several families are preparing to celebrate the dads and father-figures in their own lives. Food for the Hungry, a ministry seeking to end all forms of human poverty, honors the important part fathers play in a family and recognizes that one of the best ways to uplift a struggling community is by supporting dads.

(Photo courtesy of Food for the Hungry)

Mike Meyers, Chief Development Officer with Food for the Hungry, says, for example, they’ll work with fathers to find vocational opportunities, improve farming practices, and increase livelihood to provide for their kids. It’s all done in the context of the Gospel, and families are holistically changed.

“I visualize, as I’m saying this, dads I’ve seen along the way who couldn’t provide for their family, didn’t know what to do, and Food for the Hungry came on and walked with them down a journey on how to get to a spot where they can provide for their families. The smiles on their faces and the appreciation for the help along the way are great. So being able to see parents and fathers empowered like that is one of my favorite things about working with Food for the Hungry.”

Often, families and communities find themselves trapped in a cycle of poverty because of what FH describes as broken relationships — with God, with others, with self, or even with creation.

“People may have landed in that spot because a disaster happened in their country or in their city. They could be in that spot because they’ve just always lived poor and never knew anything different,” explains Meyers.

“So we just come alongside them and build hope. Then out of that, [we] get practical into things like how do you better work with the soil, and how do you do things that would provide a place for people to grow food, and how can they grow more food, and how can they have access to markets where they’re able to get better prices for whatever they’re creating.”

(Photo courtesy of Food for the Hungry via Facebook)

He has witnessed firsthand how FH’s sustainable practices to eradicate poverty have encouraged individual fathers and families.

For example, Meyers traveled to Bolivia and visited a struggling community where the children were so hungry, they were willing to eat dirt to quiet their grumbling stomachs. The Bolivian community and FH both brought ideas and resources to the table and began to work together in livelihood and agriculture training to improve the local economy.

He shares, “I went and met this papaya farmer who had increased his income by ten times. I’ll never forget this guy because he had such an awesome smile. He was showing us around his farm and how he even had a truck now to drive his papayas to market, and we were able to really help that family. It’s one of my great memories.”

Another story comes from Meyers’ time visiting Syrian refugees in Lebanon. “I met with a family there and sat down with them inside their tent and heard about their story…. This dad had to leave his family because of the conflict that was happening in Syria and go find a place for them to stay, and some work, and some way that they could make it once they got to Lebanon. [He] then got the notice to his wife that it was okay to come now. So she came across with four kids and had to come walking across the top of the mountains in January where there’s snow.”

Meyers reflects, “As this dad and mom were telling us this story, we just were telling them, ‘We’re so excited to work alongside you and really try to get you to a spot where life is better.’” The Syrian father’s joy and gratitude for the ability to provide for his family were very tangible, and served as another touching example of the impact that holistic service in the name of Christ brings.

So how can you support ministry to fathers through Food for the Hungry? First of all, as Christians who fully believe in God’s sovereignty, the biggest thing you can do is pray.

Specifically, says Meyers, “I think the refugee crisis is a big one to be praying for. I think also [pray] just for our U.S. government because the U.S. is a big part of funding some great things that are happening around the world. So just pray for wisdom for our leadership in the U.S., and then I think specifically people can pray for a country that’s on their heart.”

You can also give to Food for the Hungry’s outreach and help them be the hands and feet of Christ addressing “the physical, relational, and spiritual needs of vulnerable people”. Just click here to give!