Church outreach aids Bolivia drought victims

Michaela, Ryan, Jeff and Tina Schuler of Arizona Community Church with their sponsored child, Margarita, and her Bolivian family. Photos courtesy Arizona Community Church

By Wrangler News Staff

To those who have tracked the growth of Arizona Community Church since it broke ground in South Tempe nearly 30 years ago, word that the church has partnered with non-profit Food for the Hungry should come as no surprise.

What may be an eye-opener, though, is how far the congregation’s outreach—measured for the past two years in both travel miles and seemingly boundless generosity—has helped change the lives of 125,000 families in Bolivia.

In recent years, the impoverished nation has been in a state of emergency due to severe drought conditions, a crisis that ACC members say gave them the motivation to join forces with Phoenix-based FH to provide food, clean water, education and medical treatment to Bolivian children in need.

Since the partnership began, child sponsorships in Belén, Bolivia have doubled, says Tina Schuler, liaison manager at the Tempe church.

Through the outreach program, says Schuler, ACC members have become aware of the change and the hope they’ve brought, not only to the sponsored children but to the entire community.

“The partnership between Food for the Hungry and Arizona Community Church was an easy decision, as both organizations have the desire to walk hand-inhand with these nations, not as foreigners, but rather as brothers and sisters in Christ fighting for the same cause,” said Schuler.

Jeff Hensley with a young Bolivian woman receiving her clean water tank

Over the last two years, ACC members have traveled to Bolivia to meet their sponsored children and spend time with FH staff on the ground.

In 2018, ACC families filled multiple suitcases with packages to several children, and FH Bolivia staff hand-delivered each package.

“Food for the Hungry has been working with the world’s most vulnerable people for over four decades, and we’ve learned that child sponsorship is one of the most successful ways for children, families and entire communities to rise up out of poverty,” says Juan Pablo Belmonte, field liaison manager at FH Bolivia.

“While the resources we continue to provide alongside Arizona Community Church are lifechanging, the relationship of love and trust we have both established in Belén is even more fulfilling.”

FH, a humanitarian organization aimed at helping communities extract themselves from extreme poverty in over 20 countries worldwide, focuses on transformational development by investing in children and building local leaders through programs like livelihood training and bringing clean water, according to Belmonte.

These efforts, say church officials, align with what ACC describes as its mission: To “Connect, Grow and Serve” by sending teams out to provide vital resources to areas in need.

For information about sponsoring a child in a similar context, visit fh.org/give/sponsor-a-child.

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