Food for the Future — Malawi Harvest Service

6.5 million people in Malawi are going hungry as the country faces its worst drought in a decade. Christian Aid Scotland urgently needs your help to reach people struggling to find food today and to help protect their winter harvest. Please use your Harvest service to raise funds and awareness about the devastating situation faced in Malawi.

Please act with us to safeguard their future!

This harvest resource bank includes lots of ideas for your church service. You will find an all-age talk, children’s talk and prayers. Please also consider committing your offering to the Malawi Food Crisis Appeal as part of this service.

Call to Worship

Preparation
Have a basket of food to share. Oranges, bunches of grapes or several packets of sweets work well. Choose Fairtrade where you can.

Give an orange (or another shareable snack) to pre-selected volunteers in the congregation. They should give a section to their neighbours. Share out the snack until everyone has got something.

Voice 1: Late in the day, the Twelve approached and said to Him, “Send the crowd away, so they can go into the surrounding villages and countryside to find food and lodging, because we are in a deserted place here.”

“You give them something to eat,” He told them.

Voice 2: Funny thing about sharing. The more you practice, the more natural it gets. The more natural it gets, the more possibilities you see. Until, bit by bit, a little at a time, before you know it — everybody has what they need.

Voice 3: So let’s share — our time right now, the hopes and dreams we have for the future and the forgiveness we need to move on. Let’s share all the gifts we’ve been given by God. They were never meant for hoarding, but for helping out and handing on. Let us worship God on this Harvest Sunday.

Prayer

What if …
What if the whole world saw food as a community asset 
 instead of a commodity?

What if our economy redistributed wealth in the same way as a healthy body uses fuel: 
 to ensure every part of it flourishes?
 
 What if the church took on the challenge to be Christ’s body on earth 
 with Olympic commitment?

What if the barriers fell down, 
 the blinkers came off, 
 the tectonic plates holding the ‘me and mine’ mentality shifted 
 until there was only Us?
 
 What if the words ‘You give them something to eat’ became common sense

because what else do you do with hunger,

but share it away?

God, 
 who pours good things into and over and through this world and its people, 
 when our wants turn the flow of your gifts to a trickle, 
 take our hearts by the hand and lead us back to your path. 
 
 Teach us to walk lightly, sharing all we have. 
 
 Today, as we gather to celebrate that harvest has come here, 
 we are mindful that there are other places on our planet home 
 where hunger came instead. 
 
 May mindful grow into helpful. 
 
 Help us see our yield as your gift to the world

and welcome others to share our table. 
 
 We pray especially for our brothers and sisters in Malawi,

where struggle and starvation stalk, 
 where the most vulnerable suffer first and fiercest. 
 6.5 million people go hungry — each one loved by you and family to us. 
 
 God, in your mercy, set us in solidarity. 
 As they wait and hope and pray for the harvest, 
 rain generosity and justice onto our fields.

Grace Mchenga is 36 years old and married with five children. She is a farmer in the Nsanje District.

Short reflection

Food for Thought
They were always fed — the 5,000 on the hill, the 12 in the upper room, his friends on the beach. Fed to bursting and there were leftovers besides. No skimping anywhere to be seen.

And he was always sitting at table with people he claimed as his own — the tax collectors and sinners, Mary and Martha, wee Zacchaeus and his friends on the Emmaus road. Wherever he was, people were fed. Wherever you found him, he was sharing bread. What a model for us today.

When we share together, all sorts of feeding takes place: minds open, hearts and spirits sit down together, the present is sated and the future is nourished.

When we share like family at God’s table, we meet and remember who Jesus was and who he calls us to be. Communion, eating together; sharing with unconstrained generosity and justice: that is the harvest that feeds the divine vision.

Children’s Talk

Growing hope 
Plant some seeds in church (or provide them for children to do it at home) in three different conditions to show how much there is to think about when you are trying to grow something. Give one pot of seeds soil and water but no sunlight, another sunlight and soil but no water and the third give the best conditions –sunlight, water and soil. Watch what happens over the next few weeks and use it to illustrate what a challenge farming is and how important it is to help other communities by creating the right conditions to grow their food.

All Age Talk

Christian Aid’s vision is of a world free from poverty and hunger. It’s a daunting challenge: so daunting that it could be tempting to shake your head and sadly say ‘Impossible! That’s too big a mountain to climb.’

But if you start the climb and look back, you can see things are changing — there are tangible signs of progress globally.

· Since 1950, thanks to the actions of millions of people intent on creating change, child mortality has more than halved

· the number of children receiving primary education globally has grown to just under 90 per cent

· life expectancy in developing countries has risen by, on average, 20 years.

· Fair trade has become a real player and it is driven, to a great extent, by our demand.

· Tax justice — ensuring that multinational corporations pay their fair share to developing countries — is now on the political agenda. Huge collaborative efforts in recent years to raise awareness of tax injustice has made that possible.

· Ten years ago, we worked under the banner of making poverty history. Our partners have been telling us that climate change is making poverty permanent. Now we are supporting local organisations in more than 50 countries to adapt to changing weather patterns and implement better ways of dealing with climate change.

So, ideals put into practice can and do bring change. The first Christians weren’t called Christians, but the followers of the Way. Look how far we have come by walking a different path together.

Today, we celebrate harvest together, but right now, 6.5 million people in Malawi are going hungry, more than the total population of Scotland.

In schools, children are finding it hard to concentrate and some have stopped coming to school altogether. They are either unable to cope with the demands of learning or taken out by their parents to help the family find something to eat.

The food shortage has been caused by drought, erratic rainfall and devastating floods, which in early 2015 destroyed homes, farmland, crops and food reserves. Harvests have failed and prices have soared. Around 500,000 people have no access to safe drinking water.

As ever, it is the youngest, oldest and the vulnerable who suffer most. Hundreds of thousands of pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers and young children are at particular risk of malnutrition. And when local water sources run dry, it is often women and girls who have to work even harder while they’re hungry, walking further to fetch water, having less time to go to school, earn money, and tend crops. This is what their today looks like, but it doesn’t have to be their future. We can continue to help break the chain that holds people in hunger.

With the support of the Scottish Government, Christian Aid’s partners have been helping families to become more resilient to the impacts of climate change, so that they can cope with future disasters and crises. Through the Scottish Government’s Climate Justice Fund, they have supported families in Nsanje district — one of Malawi’s poorest regions — to improve their water supplies and food security.

Innovative projects such as solar-powered irrigation schemes will help farmers to reap not just one but two bumper harvests each year — in summer and winter. Before this crisis, communities were being strengthened, children were going to school, lives were improving.

However, the present food shortage is jeopardising all the progress we have made, leaving communities more vulnerable than ever. As we sit here today, these irrigation schemes are flouting the drought and are watering tiny shoots of crops. Families are starving because the last harvests failed, but new crops are growing and will be ready for harvest this winter.

Hope is within their grasp but they are hungry with the waiting.

So how can we help our Malawian neighbours?

Christian Aid has released an initial £70,000 of emergency funds to support 1,000 families in Nsanje.

This interim support will help families pay for meals, water and other essentials needed to cope with the immediate effects of the crisis.

This means that our brothers and sisters in Malawi won’t have to leave their homes to find food, or abandon their recently sown crops or sell their agricultural tools and land. Instead, they can stay in their communities, tend the crops they’ve nurtured and begin to break the chain that climate chaos and the El Niño effect have helped to create. They can act now to safeguard their future.

But much more is needed and without extra funds Christian Aid cannot scale up their efforts.

Hunger today is starving Malawi of its tomorrow.

Unless we act now, the progress of recent years could be reversed.**

Late in the day, the Twelve approached and said to Him, “Send the crowd away, so they can go into the surrounding villages and countryside to find food and lodging, because we are in a deserted place here.”

“You give them something to eat,” He told them.
 
 
Amen

*This summer, in recognition of the strong relationship between our two countries, the Scottish Government will match fund the first £70,000 raised by Christian Aid until 31 October 2016.

**Note to minister: If appropriate at this point in the service, you might wish to suggest that there will be a retiring offering (or similar) in aid of the Malawi Food Crisis Appeal.

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