Click on the PDF in red below to read a summary of Barbara Bennett’s and Sheilagh Byler’s recent visit to Bihar, India.
BIHAR, INDIA PROJECT – Teaching Sustainable Farming
“Those who are generous are blessed, for they share their bread with the poor.” Proverbs 22:9
It is hard to express how humbled I am by the amazing generosity of this congregation. Over and over again you have given freely to so many people in so many ways and God continues to take what you give and bless it. Soon after the devastating earthquake in Nepal last year, our Vacation Bible School plans were underway and our VBS leaders decided to link the VBS theme of water, the earthquake in Nepal, and the VBS offering. They partnered with Lutheran World Relief to use the offering to buy water filtration kits for the people of Nepal. Our goal was to raise enough money to buy one kit, $180.00. But this congregation “blew that goal out of the water”! We raised $4,500! And over $500 of that came from the VBS children.
Our water filtration project got the attention of Lutheran World Relief. They wondered, “If this congregation could do this in one week, what might they be able to accomplish with a larger goal?” At the same time I was marveling at what God does through your generosity and wondering, “What would happen if we took on a big project and worked on it for several years? Imagine what God will be able to accomplish through us if we set out to do an international development project of this magnitude?”
And so LWR and I started looking at projects. In January they came to me with a pilot project they were hoping to do in Bihar, India. As I looked at this project, I became convinced that this project is one we need to consider. Over the next several months I want us to look at this project and prayerfully ask if this is where God is calling TLC.
Here is a brief sketch of what we are calling “Bihar”.
Bihar, India is one of the poorest places in the world. Over 50% of the people live in abject poverty and many families can only grow enough food for 3-5 months of the year. LWR has been successfully working in India for over 30 years teaching sustainable farming, empowering women to be agents of change, encouraging micro-loans, and keeping families together. LWR knows how to do this work!
LWR is partnering with seven large ELCA churches to pilot this project in Bihar. TLC has been invited to be one of the seven. The seven churches work cooperatively to design the project. Each congregation commits to raising $100,000 over four years. This sounds like a lot, and it is! But if each family that currently gives to TLC gave $50 more a year, (less than $1 per week), we will raise that money. This will stretch us, but we are up to it.
A core team is working on this project (see below)and they will be happy to talk with you about the potential of this project. Please prayerfully consider if this is where you think God is leading TLC.
With gratitude and hope, Pastor Elizabeth
TLC Team Bihar:
Sheilagh Byler, Mike Etzell, Dwight Smith, John & Missy Villapudua