Migration is viewed as a courageous expression of the human will to overcome distress and seek a better life. North and East Africa have seen movement in human masses who intend to settle at new and promising locations. Since 2010, our missionaries have ridden the tops of transport trucks, pedaled bicycles, and even hitch a ride on mule carts to move about, as do many migrants. Refugee settlements have grown over the ten years of Mercy Partner's existence, as we watched the growth spread over what was once barren land. Unfortunately, refugee settlements struggle to maintain basic provisions, and many lack access to medical aid or protection from oppressors.
Many Internally Displaced Persons camps (IDP camps) within a country become "death camps" when resources run out, and diseases incubate. Whereas refugee settlements across country borders at least offer the hope of change. Our current focus in West Nile is a settlement with over 270,000 South Sudanese refugees fleeing the ongoing civil war. Bidi Bidi recently held the title as the largest refugee settlement in the world.
Inability to feed children, care for their health and education is a struggle and impossibility for North and East African families. Breaking the cycle of poverty means not just providing for the day but working with folks that already have an idea about how they can be pulled up in a state of equality when tapping into key resources. For people to sustain themselves, they must get beyond survival. Therefore, necessities need to be obtained and achieved and not necessarily handed out. Of course, the pendulum swing to this issue is that we tend to go directly from pouring aid into countries to total removal of all assistance - such swings in approach could be counterproductive to relief efforts.
Remember when you were on your own? You may have discovered that the smallest resources can make a difference. Mercy Partners is attentive to our host nations' lack of essentials. Unlike many organizations that provide topical treatments for deep deprivation, we have found a way to provide sustaining resources that provide a hand-up so others may strive, not merely survive.
As Mercy Partners, we recognize that our resources are provided by God so that we can meet the gospel opportunity of fellow Christians. We "sow" good works indiscriminately, so Christ receives the glory. Christians should be willing to foster healing in communities divided by conflict and strained by poverty (regardless of its source). We are identifying opportunities to bridge the gap for God's glory. Mercy is only merciful when it is applied in the proper light and understanding. We believe that extending dignity is worth more than intercultural exchange. We believe that partnership is at the root of mercy, and growth stems from mercy. We are no longer traveling in a vision of our own but in a revelation. The same effectiveness that Paul and Barnabas experienced, we have experienced. Where the North American missionary brings change, the native evangelist brings authenticity. The people in conflict zones have suffered greatly, and those whom our Lord has pulled from the heap of humanity have spoken of the marvelous mercies of Christ.
"By establishing a school amid conflict, all tribes have access, and we operate as a wholistic ministry rather than cherry-picking the best and brightest. This brings mercy in the life-giving name of Jesus." - Evg. Peter L.
Using this bridging cultures' method has helped migrants and internally displaced survive, strive, and thrive.
Those that fall under the level of human existence need immediate care to Survive.
Those that exceed the level of survival require sustainable resources that will help them Strive.
Those that strive need instruction and education to help others in their community. When we help others, we all can Thrive.
Those that thrive in conflict need encouragement to remain located in-country rather than seek outward mobility to western culture.
After sustaining self, the next significant step in the human experience is to help others go from surviving to striving. Our training, coupled with our publicized teachings, help accomplish this goal.
For Mary and Joyce, an economical solution for their families manifested only in their imaginations. If they had a small building to house bulk supplies, then they could portion out and sell smaller quantities for a profit. The profit could be reinvested, and soon things would take a turn. When they shared their business plan, it was clear that a microloan would not be a solution but another obstacle. Working together with the families took additional time; however, it crystallized ideas that would prevent pitfalls that the project would encounter if it were not tailor-made.
The plan developed that Mary would no longer pay shelter rent to Joyce, and Joyce would own the store. Mary would use the store to sell water she sanitized by boiling it, and she could use the proceeds to support her children rather than pay rent. Joyce would sell items and replenish the supplies using the profit to care for her family. Once the plan was solid, Mercy Partners provided funding for a local welder to create a kiosk and enough funds to outfit the supply. Since "Jack's Store" opened, it has paid for school fees, medicine, and bread and juice for Sunday's Lord Supper celebration with the church family. Since the store is a daily touchstone for those who pass by, the families have used it as an evangelism tool. There have been scores baptized and two church families that grown from this work in East Africa.
#InternationalMigrantsDay - December 18th
The United States Government recognizes MERCY PARTNERS as a Charitable Non-Profit,
under Q30 - International Development, Relief Services - National Security.