Drought in SW Madagascar

Some areas of the USA are experiencing drought in 2021 and yet we still have adequate resources in terms of food and other goods.  Our government even helps with assistance and local churches have food banks to help feed those who are hungry.

David Lerseth

Now consider another continent and country, Madagascar.  It is the fourth largest island in the world and is located off the southeast coast of Africa. Parts of the country are lush with rain and have exotic plants and animals. However, as one moves down to the tip of this beautiful island you come upon a dry, arid region where they have gone four years without rain.

The UN reports that this drought is affecting 1.5 million people. The drought is the worst in four decades and has devastated isolated farming communities in the south of the country leaving families to scavenge for food to survive.  They have killed their livestock, eaten the seeds intended to plant a new crop, and are now eating grasshoppers and cactus to survive. Some even believe there is a type of mud that is safe to eat; that is how hungry they are.

What can you do to help these people?  We are working to bring them the Gospel message of Jesus Christ, but one cannot proclaim the Gospel when stomachs are growling loudly. We want them to hear the Word of God!  We know that we cannot solve this problem single handedly.  It is a problem for the government, wealthy nations, and large corporations to help solve.  And what about the large Christian agencies that claim to have compassion for hungry people?  Friends of Madagascar Mission (FOMM) has approached Lutheran World Relief numerous times; we have asked Feed My Hungry Children, and the answer has been they cannot help.

So FOMM, with our limited resources and lack of “corporate power,” have begun a Drip Irrigation Program to teach people how to possibly raise enough quality food during the drought to feed their families.  It is not going to solve the problem in southwest Madagascar, but it shows we care about them.  We provide food at a Lutheran Hospital called Ejeda so those coming for medical care may be fed while healing.  Currently we are applying for a large grant to help drill deep water wells, hundreds of them, that will be used to provide water for drinking and the drip irrigation programs.  We are going to work with other non-profits to manage and run this program.  We hope our efforts will bring the government of Madagascar into a conversation with us and to work with us in setting goals that will benefit the people of the southwest.

We invite you to pray with us, support us with gifts, and even your own knowledge about how to help starving people who are hungry for food, and yes, even for the food of God’s love and care for them. Mail checks to: Friends of Madagascar Mission, PO Box 46381, Eden Prairie, MN 55344. You may also donate online using PayPal www.madagascarmission.com/donate. While you are there, check out “Projects” under “Get Involved” and learn more about our Drip Irrigation Project.

Pray with me, Father, in your mercy open the heavens and send rain on the fields of Madagascar and end this drought, and until then, open the hearts and purses of the developed world and feed the starving children. Make us your hands and feet to bring resources to those most in need. In your Son’s dear name, we pray. Amen.

Devotion for Monday, December 4, 2017

“They return at evening, they howl like a dog, and go around the city.  They wander about for food and growl if they are not satisfied.”  (Psalm 59:14-15)

Many live for the physical pleasures this life can give: wandering in the night and satisfying the lusts of the body like unthinking animals.  But you have been awakened to the truth of the Lord who lives forever.  Will you continue wandering like an animal or come into the presence of the One who created you?  This is the offer of salvation, that you would know the Lord who knows you.

Lord, I do spend my days wandering trying to figure things out while simply seeking to satisfy the longings of the physical realm.  Take my mind and awaken it to the reality of eternity that I would pursue what is good and right.  Lead me in the way I should go and then help me move in that direction.  Lift me up out of the pit and set my feet upon the path of righteousness.

Lord Jesus You have come to save as many as would be saved through Your grace.  Bring my mind, body and soul into the salvation You offer and help me walk in the ways You have established.  Keep me close to You now and always that I may walk in the salvation of the righteous.  Keep me from living like a mere animal and seeking the better portion.  Amen.

Weekly Devotional for November 22, 2017

“Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.” (Luke 12:13)

It’s as though the United States Congress just put its entire military at your command, and you respond by saying, “Could they mow my lawn maybe?”  There our Lord Jesus sat, preaching the kingdom of God in all its cruciform power, and this young man wants him to settle a property dispute.  Our Lord’s response was surely just: “Who made me arbitrator over you?”  He’s no arbitrator; he’s the Son of Man and Prince of Peace!

As you come to our nation’s Day of Thanksgiving, remember this great power of the One whom you thank, and His greater, joyful intention for you.  The moisture of the clouds and the grains of the earth are but a foretaste of the “kingdom come,” already pressing its way into earth through the water of Baptism and the Bread of Heaven.  He would give you more than your father’s cash; He’d give you the Father’s kingdom.

How much reason, then, to give thanks!  As you come before Him over the next several days, give thanks not only for the food on the table, but for the Food that ever lasts, His Son, Jesus Christ, and ask Him to share that Holy Feast abundantly, through you and all His Church.

LET US PRAY: O living Bread, my Lord Jesus Christ: thank You!  For what greater reason do I have to give thanks but You?  Unite my gratitude, as poor as it may be, with Your own ceaseless petitions at the Father’s right hand, and make known to all the world the glory of Your cross.  Amen

Pastor Steven K. Gjerde

Zion, Wausau

Weekly Devotional for October 22, 2017



Devotional for October 22, 2017 based upon Matthew 22: 15-22

A young boy wanted a hundred dollars, so he prayed to God for an entire week, but nothing happened.  Finally he decided to write God a letter, requesting the hundred dollars.  When the Post Office got the letter addressed to God, they forwarded it to the White House.  The President was very impressed and touched, so he instructed an aide to send the boy five dollars.  He figured that five dollars would mean a lot to the boy.  Which it did.  So the young boy sat down and wrote a note, which read, “Dear God, Thank you very much for sending me the money.  However, I noticed that for some reason you sent it through Washington.  As always, they kept most of it.”  

In our Gospel reading for this morning Jesus said, “Give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” (verse 21)  Most of us accept the fact that we do have to give to Caesar.  What Caesar wants, Caesar gets.  And most of us just kind of accept that.

Giving to Caesar is not a problem for most of us.  But for many, giving to God is a huge problem.   So I would like to ask the question, WHY DO WE GIVE?  Many churches hold their annual stewardship campaign during this time of the year.  Why would we want to tell God in writing what we plan to do in providing financial support for and being involved in the ministry of the Church this next year?

First, we give to God the things that belong to God in RESPONSE to all that He has done for us.  Times are tough.  Money is short.  Maybe financially times are tougher for you than they were a few years ago.  But do you still have your health?  Do you have people who love you?  Do you have food to eat and a warm place to sleep?  Do you believe that Jesus died for your sins?  Do you have a home in heaven?  The truth is that we all have much to be thankful for.  And so we give to God the things that belong to God, first of all, in RESPONSE to all that God has done for us.

Second, we give to God the things that belong to God as a REMEDY to the enslaving power of wealth.  There comes a time for all of us when we have to decide what role money is going to play in our lives.  Will we have money, or will money have us?  It’s really interesting – and tellingly significant – that as people’s income grows, the percentage of their income that they give to charities declines.  The more people earn, the less proportionately they give.  You would think it would work the other way around.  The more I earn, the more discretionary income I have, so the more I should be able to give.  But that’s not the way it works.  

A wealthy TV evangelist was dying in his mansion.  He gathered his followers all around him to hear his one last wish.  “Before I die,” he said, “I would like to take one last ride.”  They asked him what he would need for that one last ride before entering into the Kingdom of Heaven.  He replied, “I would like a very small camel and a very large needle.”

It’s happening to people all around us.  No one of us is immune.  People who used to worship God now worship money. And so we give to God the things that belong to God as a REMEDY to the enslaving power of wealth.

And then third, we give to God the things that belong to God as a REMINDER of who is number one in our lives.  According to Deuteronomy 14, the whole purpose of the tithe is to teach us to always put God first.  It’s simply a matter of priorities.  It is simply a matter of doing what Jesus said – “Give back to God the things that belong to God.”  Seek first His Kingdom, and then trust Him to provide and to take care of you.  

This coming week ask yourself, “Am I truly giving back to God the things that belong to God?”

May the Holy Spirit so live in your life that you will find giving back to God easier, more important, and certainly more enjoyable than giving back to Caesar.

Dennis D. Nelson

President of the Board and Director of Lutheran CORE