by Summer Kelley
“While wandering a deserted beach at dawn, stagnant in my work, I saw a man in the distance bending and throwing as he walked the endless stretch toward me. As he came near, I could see that he was throwing starfish, abandoned on the sand by the tide, back into the sea.
When he was close enough I asked him why he was working so hard at this strange task. He said that the sun would dry the starfish and they would die. I said to him that I thought he was foolish. There were thousands of starfish on miles and miles of beach. One man alone could never make a difference.
He smiled as he picked up the next starfish. Hurling it far into the sea he said, "It makes a difference for this one."
I abandoned my writing and spent the morning throwing starfish.” - Loren Eiseley
In the same vein, Andy Stanley is credited with saying, "Do for one what you wish you could do for many."
The Many: Extreme Poverty
Amid extreme poverty and political unrest, there are many needs in the West African country of Cote d'Ivoire.
A 2006 CIA estimate had 42% of the population living below poverty line.
Politics hasn't helped. A 2002 civil war divided this coastal area just larger than New Mexico in two, with rebels controlling the North and the government maintaining power in the South. (Cote d'Ivoire.)
In 2010, President Laurent Gbagbo’s refusal to concede defeat to Alassane Ouattaraa in a Presidential Poll triggered a violent outbreak in which 3000 people were killed. Eventually, rebels backing Ouattara captured Gbagbo, who is now awaiting trial before the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity.
Ouattara's ensuing presidency has overseen a rapid economic revival.
Ouattara is hoping for re-election in a Presidential Poll set for this Tuesday, October 25. ("Ivory Coast: Date Is Set for Election")
Let's uphold this fragile situation in prayer, asking for peace and protection for the people of Cote d'Ivoire.
Economically, Ivory Coast is mostly dependent on agricultural or related activities. It is the world's leading cocoa producer. Cote d'Iviore is also a leading exporter of coffee and palm oil. Sadly, 35% of children age 5-12 are involved with child labor. (Cote d'Ivoire.)
Empowering the Poorest of the Poor in Jesus' Name
Bread of Life's Ivory Coast chapter has been creating opportunities for Ivorians to love and serve the poorest of the poor among them. Bread of Life's staff and volunteers may be financially limited, but they are willing to share and give what they have to those in need.
Robert and his family of 8 had the blessing of attracting the attention of the BOL workers. Robert's family is affected by what Bread of Life calls "generational poverty."
Robert struggles to provide for his family, including paying for the school fees of his 6 children.
Robert with his family. Daniel (2 years), Grace (4 years), Odette (7 years), Emmanuel (10 years) and Prisca (12 years). Robert's wife and Daniel's twin, Daniella (2 years) not pictured.
"Our focus has been to empower the father (spiritually and materially) to take care of his family," one staff member said.
Daniel, the national director of Bread of Life, Ivory Coast, visits Robert regularly. They discuss the gospel and "being a disciple of Jesus in relationship with Him, biblical principles such trusting God and being faithful in the little things."
They are encouraged that the entire family prays together.
Bread of Life Ivory Coast worker Daniel, with Robert in front of Robert's store.
Robert working inside his store.
In an effort to empower Robert to provide for his family rather than teach them to live on hand-outs, Bread of Life helped Robert open a micro-business repairing and selling second-hand electronics. Once the business was restarted, Robert was able to bring home a meager monthly income.
But when Robert's youngest daughter, Daniella, became very sick in July, that meager income was used to pay for her health care, leaving the family in need of basic necessities again.
They were able to make a start at getting back on their feet by September, when the children's school resumed again. Robert was even able to pay for three of his children's school fees. Bread of Life Ivory Coast provided funds for the remaining three to start school last month.
If possible, Bread of Life Ivory Coast would like to help Robert clean up the front of his store, possibly do some renovations and make the store more attractive to encourage clientele to visit.
Bread of Life Ivory Coast would like to help Robert clean up and repair his store front next.
Bread of Life Ivory Coast reports,
Bread of Life-IC is careful not to fall into the trap of 'give a man a fish and you feed him for a day.' We are teaching slowly Robert’s family to fish, which will feed them for life. Bread of Life-IC aims not only to perform a given service but to teach individual positive attitudes and godly values which will benefit them for their lifetime and empower them to rescue others in the Ivorian society.
Poverty of Education
Bread of Life, Ivory Coast's founder, Charles Dibbie believes one of the root problems in Ivory Coast is "poverty of education," meaning lack of Biblical worldview: knowing God and knowing His creation. Seeking to rectify part of that issue, Bread of Life Ivory Coast places value on children's education.
In addition to helping Robert's children attend school this semester, one of Bread of Life Ivory Coast's bigger projects is supporting a preschool for the children of cocoa farm workers. Cocoa farm workers work very long hours, and while they work, their children are left to the streets.
Some locals started a preschool as an alternative for these children. Bread of Live Ivory Coast discovered this and got involved, too.
Bread of Life Ivory Coast so blessed the little school with the provision of a swing-set, some sports equipment and other support, that the school told Bread of Life Founder, Richard Nungesser on his last visit to Ivory Coast that they wanted to give Bread of Life the school and rename it after the organization.
What They Wish They Could Do for All
Bread of Life, Ivory Coast is a group of sincere national workers. They truly want to alleviate suffering and poverty around them. But they don't have much in the way of finances.
They did have enough to help one family, though. Thanks to their steadfastness and commitment, they are doing for one what they hope to eventually do for many.
Bread of Life Ivory Coast needs our help with these projects. They are doing what they can, but we can take them beyond what just they can do and into the realm of what God can do when His people are faithful and generous!
Would you like to support the projects that these national workers have sacrificed to start? You can do that here.
Cote d'Iviore. (2015, October 6). Retrieved October 22, 2015, from https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/iv.html
Ivory Coast: Date Is Set for Election. (2015, August 5). Retrieved October 22, 2015, from http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/06/world/africa/ivory-coast-date-is-set-for-election.html?ref=topics&_r=0
Ivory Coast profile - BBC News. (2015, May 5). Retrieved October 22, 2015, from http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-13287216
Summer Kelley is a writer living in Phoenix, Arizona with her husband and three kids. She’s had the honor and privilege of telling ITMI’s stories since 2006. She’s a homeschooling mom and a T-shirt and jeans aficionado who likes all things simple. When she’s not writing or homeschooling, you can find her honing her skills as what some might call a "suburban survivalist" as she learns to thrive in the suburbs with 3 kids. As a productivity and organizing enthusiast, she may or may not spend hours attempting to use technology to "save time.” Summer loves reading, the outdoors and Coca-Cola Classic from the fountain.