By Jordan Corona
“Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people.” (Acts 2:46, NRSV)
Hands in Service, an Amarillo-based organization, is fighting malnutrition in Mexico and helping Christians there to experience the same things as the early Jerusalem church -- sharing food, praising God, and showing goodwill.
Texas Baptists support Hands in Service through the Texas Baptist Hunger Offering. Led by Director Lee Baggett, the ministry is teaching people how to grow gardens in their backyards and thus give them access to nutritional food, something lacking in both rural communities and urban colonias.
With churches in central and southern Mexico, Hands in Service provides gardening classes to families.
“The family garden course has taught me to work as a family unit and together with my Christian family,” Ophelia Diaz said. “We have gotten to know each other better. We have learned to share seeds and our family tasks. We have learned to plant, to water, and to harvest. We are blessed to have the plants and to be able to work together.”
Texas Baptist Hunger Offering funds help purchase topsoil and seeds for the classes to use in demonstrations and for practice at home, which helps people who are hungry plant their own food. The classes cover ways to grow vegetables that require less space and resource for greater yields. Some residents plant into plastic two-liter soda bottles that are water retaining, lightweight and movable.
“The family gardens have been a lifelong dream that finally came true,” Josefina Silva said. “I have learned different ways to have a garden.”
Dr. Noe Alfaro, a physician and public health professor at the University of Guadalajara, started working with Baggett 20 years ago. His research has been identifying the nutritional needs of people in these communities.
Besides a lack of access to wholesome food in general, Alfaro said families in these communities lack protein in their diets. To meet this need Dr. Alfaro raises quail and rabbits to teach the advanced classes how to increase their protein intake.
For all the educating, Dr. Alfaro and Baggett’s work is strengthening more than the economic and physical health of the communities they serve.
Each class shares the gardening experience, shares food, but in the context of local churches, neighbors and families share something deeper --glad and generous hearts under God from whom all blessings flow.
The Texas Baptist Hunger Offering is a collective effort to alleviate hunger in Texas and around the world. Churches give to the Hunger Offering on 5th Sundays. The next 5th Sunday is April 30 or give anytime here.