Harvest for the Hungry – Suffer the little children to come unto me (Matthew 19:14)

Welcome to my harvest blog. This week I want to tell you why I love the season of harvest. Whilst I’m passionate about fruit and vegetables, I’m also concerned about the plight of the hungry in Eastern Europe. I’m so encouraged by the life-changing difference being made by Christians. This week’s five daily harvest blogs will be brief and hopefully offer you some fresh insights from this special time of the year.

Bob Northey, Communications Officer, TEN

DAY ONE: THE STORY OF THE HUMBLE SPUD

When 17th-century Spanish explorers from Peru introduced potatoes into Europe, they were met with a lot of resistance. Many people feared that the oddly shaped tubers were poisonous  and some devout Puritans refused to eat them because ‘potatoes’ weren’t mentioned anywhere in the Bible!

Potatoes proved to be easily grown and have since provided nutritious food for the masses – a harvest for the hungry. However, tragedy struck in 1845 when the potato crops in Ireland were hit for seven consecutive years with a fungal blight. The Irish Potato Famine led to starvation and disease that claimed around a million lives. This catastrophe also resulted in the mass migration of Irish people to the United States and changed the course of history.

Potatoes are now successfully grown across the world and found in many Eastern European recipes.

Bulgarian Patatnik 

A traditional Bulgarian potato-based dish characteristic of the Rhodope Mountains. It is prepared with grated potatoes and onions, as well as spearmint. It was originally cooked over a fire or stove but is nowadays also baked in an oven.

Recipe: www.196flavors.com/bulgaria-patatnik/

DAY TWO: THE PRICE OF BLACKBERRIES

In 1963, Dr Beeching recommended the closure of hundreds of UK railway lines. The sound of steam locomotives and trails of sooty smoke along many branch lines were mostly gone for good. The abandoned tracks soon became popular walking routes, havens for wildlife and corridors of bird song.

One hot summer’s day, I walked along one such track. I was twelve years of age and wearing my tee-shirt and shorts. I stepped happily along the dormant wooden sleepers supporting the heavy, weed-laden tracks. It was then I spotted a delicious sight in the hedgerow – clusters of bright, juicy blackberries!

I stepped across and reached out towards my prize, but the branches were guarded by thorns making the simple task a bit of a challenge. I was determined to accept nature’s generous offering and attempted my slowly planned assault. Choosing the ripest fruit and reaching up high into the branches I plucked each blackberry and ate it with joy. One by one, I consumed my feast and felt wonderful.

After several minutes at one particularly rewarding spot, I began to feel a strange sensation upon my shins. As I reached for yet another tasty blackberry, it became hard to ignore. I glanced down and was horrified! My trainers, socks and lower legs were covered by hundreds of brown ants running amok. A closer look revealed that I was standing on the top of a very large ant nest! I jumped back towards the track, shook my legs violently, as if in a strange ritual dance, and began to brush off the invaders with the back of my hands. It took several minutes to complete my escape and regain my composure.

By focussing totally on the fruit, I had unknowingly trampled on the colonial home and it seemed as if the whole army of ants became intent on letting me know my trespass. The price had been paid!

HARVEST PODCAST 

James Vaughton and Meg Reeves talk with Leonora Maloku (Fellowship of the Lord’s People) in Kosovo Kosovo

DAY THREE: POLYTUNNEL PEPPERS

Four years ago, Daniel Chiriac, who leads Agape Church in Sinoe, Romania, bought 4,000 square metres of land and set up an irrigation system to grow crops as a community venture. He used his own wages to do this, having got the idea after working in a greenhouse in Spain for a year.

To develop this project even further, Daniel needed to build a fully recyclable, plastic polytunnel. The polytunnel protects the crops and allows them to be harvested out of season, if necessary. This allows the crops to be sold when the market is less saturated. Daniel is currently having great success growing peppers.

Daniel’s plan is to reinvest the income generated to provide jobs for church members. Having worked abroad, Daniel understands what a blessing it is to not leave your family in order to financially support them. Daniel hopes that this initiative will inspire other similar projects in the area, creating even more job opportunities.

TEN was delighted to provide Daniel with a special Sustainability Grant needed to grow his vision. The first polytunnel has been erected, complete with an irrigation system and Daniel hopes to build more in the future. Funds generated from this project will not only provide income but anything that remains can be reinvested into the project and the church’s ministry. Daniel has been tithing the harvest too, by giving away ten percent of the land’s produce to families in need. As Daniel works to bless others, we’re confident God will make the harvest grow.

If you wish to get involved in supporting sustainable futures, check out Essential Gifts below or contact James.Vaughton@ten-uk.org

DAY FOUR: SMALL CAN BE BEAUTIFUL

Welcome to my penultimate blog, and thanks for opening my harvest emails this week. Most of us  are very aware of the ‘big-name’ charities that provide humanitarian aid to many thousands of needy people across the world. Millions of pounds are raised each year to support the huge efforts being made globally.

Supporters of TEN appreciate that by providing a personalised approach to tackling hunger and deprivation, small charities can be beautiful. I want to explain to you why we have been able to assist our national partners over so many years. One of the great things about smaller charities, like TEN, is that we value close relationships with our partners on the front line. We personally know the men and women who distribute food parcels and help to prepare hot meals for the poorest of families. We have worked alongside some of our trusted partners for years and have visited many of their projects and local churches. With our own eyes, we have seen the difference being made.

Today, vast numbers of hungry people long for their next meal. Harvest for the Hungry cannot feed them all, but we WILL feed some.

With your help, a small one-off donation of  £15 will feed two more families in Eastern Europe for a week. These  families will thank God that somebody cared. Small can be beautiful. Do you agree?

A small donation of £15 will feed one more family for a week in Eastern Europe.
YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE

DAY FIVE: HARVEST THANKSGIVING

“While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.” Genesis 8:22

Many of our long-standing supporters will remember the traditional harvest thanksgiving services of the past. Children would bring decorated baskets filled with fruit and vegetables and add them to the church display before distribution to needy people in the community. My favourite memory is the harvest supper in the church hall when we sat in rows of trestle tables dressed in white tablecloths. Such festive suppers are hard to find these days!

Harvest hymns were also sung as we reflected on those “bringing in the sheaves”. One of the most popular harvest hymns was ‘Come ye thankful people come.’

A small donation of £15 will feed one more family for a week in Eastern Europe.
YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE

LISTEN TO THE CHOIR

Harvest hymn lyrics by Henry Alford, 1844

Come, ye thankful people, come, raise the song of harvest home;
all is safely gathered in, ere the winter storms begin.
God our Maker doth provide for our wants to be supplied;
come to God’s own temple, come, raise the song of harvest home. 

All the world is God’s own field, fruit as praise to God we yield;
wheat and tares together sown are to joy or sorrow grown;
first the blade and then the ear, then the full corn shall appear;
Lord of harvest, grant that we wholesome grain and pure may be. 

For the Lord our God shall come, and shall take the harvest home;
from the field shall in that day all offences purge away,
giving angels charge at last in the fire the tares to cast;
but the fruitful ears to store in the garner evermore. 

Even so, Lord, quickly come, bring thy final harvest home;
gather thou thy people in, free from sorrow, free from sin,
there, forever purified, in thy presence to abide;
come, with all thine angels, come, raise the glorious harvest home.

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