Churches know the needs of their communities better than anyone else. They have a God-given mandate to love their neighbours – to give them both practical and spiritual help. Through our work with churches around the world we see them doing this all the time. Here’s one inspiring example from Brazil.
Carlos* and his wife Francisca have four children. They used to live in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. But then Carlos got sick. Money became tight and the family were forced to leave the city.
The family lived in a canvas tent and were reluctant to seek help. ‘I did not want to take land from others,’ says Carlos.
Thankfully, Carlos was persuaded by his family to approach the government for support. They were moved out of the cramped tent and into rented accommodation before a house was built for them.
However, Carlos and Francisca still couldn’t find any work, leaving them unable to provide for their family. And a drought made everything worse.
It began with a well
The dam close to them had dried up. To get water, the family were forced to travel over four kilometres. Water was limited – one small water source had to be shared between 20 families. Cooking, drinking, washing – all necessary things that this limited resource was desperately needed for.
Carlos then met two people who helped turn his family's lives around.
Mr Tarcisio and Pastor John were part of the leadership of two nearby churches, supported by our local partner, Evangelical Action Brazil (ACEV). Mr Tarcisio was an Elder at one, and Pastor John was a pastor at the other. They saw the needs of these communities, and wanted to help out.
Through our local partner, Tearfund has been equipping them to help them address the needs in their local community, so that people can overcome poverty. It’s a model that works because it empowers local people to be the solution for change.
After talking with these communities to find the best location, Tearfund was able to help the churches to build a well. This gave them the water they needed to flourish. And after tackling the issue of providing clean water, other problems could be addressed too – such as how Carlos and Francisca could feed their family.
Life and life to the full
Our work through our church partners is designed to care for the individual as a whole. We believe every human being is created in the image of God – having inherent value. And we want to help each person be able to flourish and achieve their God-given potential. That means breaking the barriers that poverty traps people behind.
‘I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.’
Carlos and Francisca were given food by our church partner so that the family didn’t go hungry. But our church partner's wanted to empower the couple for the long-term.
They were invited to take part in an ACEV and Tearfund initiative called the Plantation Project, which enables families to grow gardens and orchards. It teaches them skills to cultivate plants and vegetables – providing them with both food and an income.
Francisca shares that she now feels motivated and wants to develop her skills further. ‘No one goes hungry anymore… I've never seen such a good project for us,’ she says.
Carlos’s faith has been strengthened and encouraged during this time. He regularly met with Mr Tarcisio, asking questions and wanting to learn more. Now he meets with fifteen others in his community to worship God and pray.
‘All my dreams have been realised,’ says Carlos. ‘Today I feel rich, I want to continue planting.’
This is why partnering with churches is at the heart of what Tearfund does globally. By working together, we can help people lift themselves out of poverty. And stay there.
- Praise God for how Carlos and Francisca’s lives have been turned around, and for the love and care shown to them by their local churches.
- Thank God for the churches Tearfund partners around the world and how they adapt continually to serve their communities – even in the midst of crises. Pray for wisdom, energy and health for their leaders.
- Pray for even more opportunities and resources for Tearfund to come alongside churches around the world to help equip them to be the solution to ending poverty.
*Names changed to protect identity
This article references events that took place before the coronavirus crisis.