If our message is going to make a decisive impact we need to preach it not only in words but to demonstrate in social action and concerns a compassion kindled at the flame of the charity of Jesus.
In over 20 years of existence, we have moved from programs of betterment (feeding and clothing the poor) to a shift in individual development (teaching how to fish) and, of late, we have taken a more radical approach – moving from community betterment to community development (that is, teaching how to refill the pond or “sustainable” development).
Motivated by both the Great Commission and what we have seen and experienced, Bread For Life launched “Agricultural Evangelism.” Our focus has been teaching farmers and providing them with seeds and tools. Through this unique ministry, thousands of farmers have been exposed to the gospel. Communities that were almost impossible to reach with the good news have opened up to us as a result of this unique approach. We have also seen the standard of living of many elevated. It only goes to show – people don’t care how much we know, until they know how much we care!
From its inception, our agricultural ministry has had a four pronged objective:
- Spiritual: To have spiritual impact through personal contacts/relationships and evangelistic activities
- Nutritional: Improve food supply, increase food variety and ensure balanced diet
- Socio-cultural: Revitalize Agricultural activities by creating opportunities among jobless brethren. Prevent unnecessary rural exodus by bringing modern agricultural techniques to farmers
- Economic: Generate funds for ministry objectives while simultaneously creating employment and ministry opportunities
According to Kofi Annan speaking at the World Economic Forum on Africa, February of 2008, “Africa has 30% of the world’s natural resources and some of the best climate, rainfall soils in the world. Africa has an abundance of arable land. Yet, 35% of the population is chronically undernourished and the whole continent of Africa only contributes 1.3% to the worlds produce – it has the same GDP of a small country like Mexico.” (1)
People die daily from starvation in some parts of Africa. The questions invariably asked is, “why can’t Africa feed itself?” The answers are numerous: Bad government, corruption and mismanagement, illiteracy, drought, civil wars, etc.
Sadly, life, especially in most rural Africa is often characterized by:
- Widespread Poverty
- Subsistence economy &
- Limited opportunity.
Our first experiment with Agricultural Evangelism began in 2000, when Pastor Faustain Mvogo of Living Word Fellowship in Yaoundé moved his family to the remote village of Mbang in the Eastern part of Cameroon. Bread For Life provided him with funds to start an experimental farm and use it as a base to teach Baka Pygmies (a nomadic tribe) the value of ownership. A motorcycle was later provided by BFL to Pastor Faustain Mvogo to ease his travel.
In 2001, Elias Ngome who had just graduated with a Master’s Degree in Agricultural Engineering from the University of Dschang in Cameroon was given his first opportunity to use the training and skills received in the University to serve as Director of Evangelism, Agriculture & Rural Development by the growing ministry of Bread For Life International. “How to be a Successful Farmer” seminars were later launched.
Bread for Life is continue to build a team as well as collaborate with government agricultural workers to teach rural and struggling farmers practical skills on how to conserve their soil, increase harvest and diversify more profitable crops.
Today our Agricultural ministry is led by Lee Cawthon who comes to us with years of training and experience in a variety of skills, both technical and agricultural.
We support this ministry in part with sales of the produce from the farms. This helps the farmers also to know how to market their wares. This is difficult because of poor roads and lack of good vehicles. We continue to need help financially and with equipment. We need:
• A truck to brave our bad roads and to transport agricultural products for sale in the major cities. This truck can also be used to carry evangelistic crusade and outreach equipment to various areas
• Monthly support so more Agricultural Engineers are brought on BFL staff to increase the effectiveness of our rural outreaches
• Revolving loan account of $500 to a $1000. This will go towards small interest-free loans and end up in our revolving account as loans are repaid and reissued.
• Operational budget of $2,000 a month to enable us plan more outreaches and carry out more projects in the rural areas.
• Projectors and laptops for use by Agricultural staff.
_____________ Citations _____________
(1) Kofi Annan (2008), Foundations for Farming, there is a problem. http://www.foundationsforfarming.org/index.php/about-us/our-message