Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Sustain Hope: AG ministry seeks to improve lives of poor and needy

In a world where nearly half the population survives on less than $2 a day and 1 billion people lack access to clean water, causing suffering from easily preventable diseases, it's tempting to believe that God doesn't provide, He's not truly rich and generous, and healing for half the world remains an impossible dream.
But often people simply need to be awakened to solutions that may be close by, according to Carol Young, director of Sustain Hope. This Assemblies of God World Missions ministry is designed to improve lives through community-initiated, sustainable solutions that use local resources in areas of agriculture, alternative fuels, water and sanitation. Of utmost importance to Sustain Hope is the transformation of the individuals they serve through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Networking with AG missionaries, Sustain Hope listens to the needs of the national church and local communities, and, in return, ministers the love of Christ in practical ways that affect everyday lives, says Young. Simple methods, such as providing training in solar water disinfection or improving agricultural techniques, improve quality of life using materials that can be obtained locally.
Sustain Hope -- rocket stove
Sustain Hope worker, Andy Rogers, displays cooking techniques using a rocket stove in Nicaragua.
Launched in 2007 by JoAnn Butrin, director of Assemblies of God World Missions International Ministries, Sustain Hope focuses on the assets that individuals already possess. Together, solutions are formulated that will discourage dependency on outside resources.
Prior to joining Sustain Hope, Young served AGWM HealthCare Ministries in the video and information technology department. She connected with missionaries ministering in places where families often were unable to both feed their children and send them to school. Yet Young knew there must be a way to offer assistance that is both Christ-centered and holistic while not fostering dependency.
Sustain Hope is engaged in sharing such methods. Today, Young and five Sustain Hope missionaries travel worldwide at the invitation of AGWM field missionaries to help people address problems that often have simple solutions.
"We get excited about manure tea and compost," Young says, "because we see how much simple, doable methods such as these can change people's everyday lives."
For example, in areas where most people live on less than $2 a day, cooking fuel often costs more than food itself and can be hard and dangerous to obtain. It causes deforestation, which exacerbates water shortages and health problems.
Sustain Hope provides instruction about technologies such as fuel briquettes made from agricultural waste, fuel-efficient stoves, and solar cooking that can greatly reduce fuel use and expense. Some technologies, such as solar ovens, lend themselves to microenterprise by empowering people to generate income through building and selling these ovens.
Container or rooftop gardening techniques can be used in urban settings where there is little land. Sustain Hope teaches food cultivation methods that can even be employed in apartments.
The moringa tree, the world's most nutrient-dense plant, is found in almost every country where Sustain Hope has ministered - and throughout every malnutrition-plagued area of the globe. All parts of the high-protein moringa are nutritious. Moringa tea even soothes coughs.
"These trees are a gift from God to these people," team member Bob Bachman says. "We just need to educate."
"We use Scripture in our materials and presentations, and we share the salvation message," Young says. "Without Christ, one's heart and life can't be truly transformed. When lives and communities are transformed by Christ, an 'other-centeredness' often occurs, and people begin to care more about their neighbor."


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