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02/09/2022 Nigeria (International Christian Concern) – For the past three years, ICC has brought a wellspring of hope to families in a land that’s harbored great suffering. Near a river bend of the Gongola River in Nigeria, ICC launched three 20-acre irrigation farms of rice that sustain 225 families, or more than 1,500 men, women, and children.

Many local Christians bear emotional and physical scars from Fulani militant attacks. Most have lost some semblance of life.  Breadwinners of families were struck down, leaving widows with mouths to feed and few means to do so. Survivors hobbled with injuries. They are the most vulnerable, yet they are warriors who don’t run from tragedy. Whenever the Fulani swept through their communities in multiple attacks since 2016, they rose to rebuild.

Traditional farming on the opulent, sun-kissed soil of the Gongola River area has carried its risks. The river would often flood during the rainy season and sweep away the rewards of the back-breaking harvest. Or the Fulani would destroy the fragile crops just before the yield, attracted to the same fertile ground to nourish their oxen. The floods and Fulani attackers were never welcome guests.

While instability has punctuated much of the landscape, calm waters flow under the surface. With ICC’s help, locals tapped the ample groundwater supply to bathe the rice fields with a steady stream of goodness. With the Fulani frequenting higher ground during the rainy season, the farms could draw a consistent and unhindered bounty no matter the weather or threat.

“It’s a huge support that has rebuilt the human dignity of the farmers; rather than handing out food packets which should be temporary, the farms have provided a sustainable livelihood and have made a huge difference in the communities,” said one local ICC staffer. While ICC provided the resources and means, the locals live on and work the farms, which is a great boost to morale. “The farms have helped stabilize and restore the sense of human worth of the families.”

It’s hard for Westerners to understand the depth and breadth of Nigerian suffering and their life-altering sacrifices borne in tragedy. Or appreciate the resilience and gratitude of the people who are so thankful for the support and this hallowed rice-strewn ground.

“When this intervention came, people were so excited,” said the ICC staffer who oversees the irrigation farms. “There was one woman who was so excited. She wanted to give ICC something because ICC brought life to us. People came all the way from the U.S. to help because of God. So, this God who planted the people in this area will always provide for them. They are always so excited about the whole project.”

ICC will continue to look at ways to assist the farmers and expand the fields. If the militants continue to ravage the land, there will be the wounded who need long-term care.

“I’m glad to serve my people and do God’s work,” said the ICC staffer. “I enjoy what I’m doing because I’m making an impact on my people. God has a way of doing things. He brought me here to help.”

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