At the crossroads
Presbyterians are in a position to work for a fairer and more just world and to empower people who are vulnerable.
Cameroonian farmer Pierre Youpa rented some land to plant papayas, but a transnational fruit company acquired a lease for the property and forced him from those fields in 1992. So he moved to another plot of land. The same company forced him off in 1997. The same thing happened in 2007. Pierre’s daughter was sent home from school because he couldn’t afford the school fees. He was ready to give up hope.
Today, however, Pierre has a successful farm and a steady income. His 14-year-old daughter is back in school and wants to be a journalist. He plants his crops in a rural village far away from where that transnational company operates, and commutes to his farm on a motorcycle.
What turned things around for Pierre and his family? Pierre, and others like him, have benefited from a fair trade dried fruit project called “Fair Fruit,” begun by the Cameroonian Joining Hands network. Joining Hands is a ministry of the Presbyterian Hunger Program that creates networks to focus on the root causes of hunger. It links churches, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and community groups overseas with Presbyterians in the United States. The network gives farmers consistent, reasonable prices for their fruit and markets it to consumers overseas, including many U.S. Presbyterians.
Christi Boyd, a Presbyterian mission co-worker who also serves as the Joining Hands companionship facilitator in Cameroon, says Fair Fruit isn’t the only way Joining Hands helps farmers. It stands by them as they pursue their rights in court, and provides loans for start-up costs as well as for medical and educational needs of their families. Pierre’s daughter was one of about 600 students Joining Hands helped.
This is just one example of how World Mission is addressing the root causes of global poverty. Presbyterians are in a position to work for a fairer and more just world and to empower people who are vulnerable. Modest funding and simple training can transform the lives of families like Pierre’s. World Mission is also committed to transforming the lives of U.S. Christians by encouraging them to lead simpler lives, which has an effect on global poverty.
Around the world, mission personnel like Christi Boyd are working with our partners on solutions to poverty that move people like Pierre and his family from dependency to dignity. “Through the words of Jesus and the prophets, God consistently defends the cause of the poor, vulnerable, and oppressed,” Christi says. “The Scriptures call us to follow in their footsteps.”
Together, we seek to make a difference that will endure, but in order to keep mission co-workers like Christi Boyd in Cameroon working alongside our partners and helping transform the lives of people like Pierre, Presbyterian World Mission must invite individuals and congregations to answer God’s call to make a difference in the world through engagement, including prayer and financial gifts. Funding sources have changed dramatically in the past 40 years, and without your designated support, we will be unable to send and support mission co-workers. We are only able to send as many mission co-workers as the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) will support. To give specifically to the work that World Mission is doing to address the root causes of poverty, visit www.pcusa.org/give and direct your offering to E200101. Or call (800) 728-7228, x5611.
Grace and peace,
Director, Presbyterian World Mission