I think all of us can use a little light this Christmas. Stories of pain, suffering, and despair bombard the news. Heartache is close to many. This present grief reminds me of our partner Juana who knew the feeling of hopelessness all too well.
Juana lives in the remote Oaxacan community of Poblete, Mexico. For many years this community was sinking deeper into poverty and despair. Farming is the main source of income and families are closely tied to the land. A century ago, the hills were covered in forest and the land was fertile, but the trees were gradually cut and not replaced. This left the land less productive, and economic opportunities dried up. Because of this, it is not unusual for people from this region to migrate to other states—or the Untied States—to look for work.
Tension and crime were on the rise in Poblete as lack of opportunity led people to turn to drugs and violence. Darkness seemed to be winning. This darkness turned personal for Juana when her husband was tragically killed. Juana, at 20 years old, was left to raise her three children on her own.
Light came in the form of Abundio and Alejandra Ruiz who pastor a Plant With Purpose partner church. Their church is in the neighboring community of Chepeginio, yet they felt called to minister to Poblete. Pastor Abundio shared, “We see God can work in this place! We believe God has chosen us to serve here.”
These local leaders helped launch Plant With Purpose’s program in Poblete. Juana took the risk and joined the new community-based savings group. Together, Juana and 11 of her neighbors saved their limited income, building a financial safety net to help them through tough times. Juana was no longer on her own.
Having enough food to feed her young children was an overwhelming concern for Juana. A solution came when her savings group formed a Family Garden Cooperative. Plant With Purpose provided instruction and guidance in sustainable agriculture, helping these moms to improve their kitchen gardens. The Family Garden Cooperative renewed Juana’s hope and brought with it the security of knowing where their next meal would come from.
Juana’s smile lights up her face as she shares that her children have enough to eat. In fact, their eating habits have improved: “Now that we grow this lettuce in our garden, my kids love it.”
Plant With Purpose is bringing light to Juana and the families of Poblete by:
- Providing guidance for families to grow a wide variety of vegetables that produce consistent, well-rounded meals.
- Training in sustainable agriculture restores soil fertility, increases crop production, and ultimately saves Juana money as she no longer buys expensive chemical fertilizers. Excess fruits and vegetables are sold at the market for income.
- Engaging groups to actively plant trees to preserve the land for generations to come.
- Offering tools to manage money. With her new income and reduced expenses, Juana has money to save. Her community-based savings group allows Juana to invest in her children’s future.
- Growing hope so families can thrive. Plant With Purpose and Juana’s pastors walk with the community, reminding them how much God cares for His people, even in remote places like Poblete.
For Juana, the darkness has broken. As Plant With Purpose invests in Poblete, hope is increasing. Pastor Alejandra adds, “Plant With Purpose has changed many aspects of our lives. Now we have hope. We will see these trees when they are grown. We are harvesting vegetables. And I hope for many things for my children.”
I am extremely grateful that Plant With Purpose is shining light; that this unique approach to poverty alleviation and environmental degradation offers hope to the hopeless. I’m grateful for the opportunity to walk with pastors like Abundio and Alejandra Ruiz who are actively sharing Christ’s love.
This Christmas–the season of light–will you bring hope to families like Juana’s?
Plant With Purpose’s integrated program is creating lasting solutions to the many challenges of rural poverty. Our desire for 2016 is to equip more than 30,000 families, families like Juana’s, to step out of poverty and into a sustainable future. This can only happen with your help.
Your gift of $25, $50, or $100 will empower parents to feed their children, restore their land, and walk with confidence, centered in God’s love.
You can shine light into darkness today and allow widows like Juana to find hope. Now, more than ever, your support is needed to further the transformational work of Plant With Purpose.
Thank you, and may your Christmas be filled with light.
P.S. Please help us respond to mothers like Juana who are waiting for assistance. Your gift of $25, $50, or $100 given before December 31 will be life changing!