2023 Christmas Project: Mary's Story


CPAcross the world, food insecurity is an ongoing struggle that has been exacerbated in recent years by the COVID-19 pandemic, the ongoing war in Ukraine, and large-scale weather events. Between 691 and 783 million people face hunger and food insecurity.

When families don’t have access to food, they are more susceptible to malnutrition and other illnesses that can lead to chronic health issues. Children who experience chronic hunger are less likely to attend school consistently, and adults are less likely to be able to work, which makes access to nutritious food more challenging.  

This year’s NCM Christmas Project supports compassionate initiatives that provide food relief in emergency situations and training and mentoring programs to help farmers find success. Whether in Ukraine, Malawi, Burundi, Armenia, Benin, Zambia, the Middle East, Sri Lanka, or beyond—when you give, you will stand with people who are hungry.


Mary is from the community of Sorgin, Malawi. Five years ago, her husband passed away, leaving Mary a widow. Within the following year, her two daughters also died, entrusting Mary with the care of four young grandchildren.  

Mary worked for a low wage in fields owned by others, doing what she could to feed, clothe, and house their family of five, in addition to trying to earn money for school fees and supplies to send her grandchildren to primary school.

Mary is not alone. Many in Malawi struggle to have enough to eat and afford their basic necessities. In addition to economic challenges, Malawi is prone to volatile weather patterns that impact crop yields, including seasonal droughts, prolonged dry spells, flash floods, and extreme rainfall.

“I felt as if our future was blank,” said Mary.

To help local communities achieve increased food and nutrition resilience, especially when disasters strike, Nazarene Compassionate Ministry Malawi launched a food security initiative in 2021. Local Nazarene churches worked with NCM Malawi to design a multifaceted approach to the problem of hunger, including promoting the production of high-value crops utilizing irrigation, raising livestock such as goats and pigs, facilitating farming associations, teaching alternative livelihoods from agriculture, and establishing savings and loan groups.

Circumstances began to change for Mary and her family when local leaders selected her to be a participant in a goat training program at her local church. Mary and twenty-nine other student farmers learned about goat care through lessons and discussion groups, including topics like housing, breeding, feeding, and disease. They also studied marketing and record keeping, skills which will empower them as they prepare to sell their goats, a step encouraged for participants after their herds begin to multiply.

Two weeks after completing the training, Mary received two goats of her own. Owning and caring for the goats has already made a difference in her life. Mary’s plans for the future are no longer blank.

Mary and her goats

“Before the project came, we were hopeless, and we felt emptiness, but now, our lives are full of joy . . . Now we are able to discuss how life can be for our children in the near future,” shared Mary.

Mary is looking forward to the life she can provide for her family because of this initiative.

“Most people desire a better life, but they don’t know how to acquire it. If goat farming goes according to plan, we want to build a better house, send our children to better schools, and eat well with three meals per day,” she explained. Her hope goes beyond goats, training, and finances.

“I have seen the love of God through these activities.”

Mary and the project managers plan to share this love, hope, and opportunity with others as the project continues. Each participant will share their firstborn baby goats with other new training program graduates so transformation can reproduce and multiply across the community and many more households can experience food security.


When you donate to the Christmas Project, you will support goat farmers like Mary as they work to transform their families and communities. Learn more here: ncm.org/christmas