MOVING WITH THE MOVENTS – II
In this update I would like to share the major activities that I had being doing, through God’s grace, in the past six months (October 2014 – March 2015).
FARMING GOD’S WAY
Farming God’s Way (FGW) is a farming approach that is motivated by biblical truths. It uses a technology similar to conservation/organic farming. The technical aspects of FGW are:
- Use mulch (called God’s Blanket in FGW, which can be from leaves, grass, stock of crops, or even weeds)
- No ploughing
- Practicing rotations
- Use organic inputs (compost, manure, anthill soil)
The biblical component of FGW that challenges farmers to follow God’s word in all aspects of their life, the above mentioned and other technical components as well as a simple but effective management system make FGW to be a proven tool to help the poor to make a sustainable profit in order to come out of poverty.
The FGW website states that, “Farming God’s Way is a resource given to the wider body of Christ, to equip the poor and break the yoke of poverty.”
FGW has a proven track record of success since 1984, when Brian Oldreive first pioneered these practices on Hinton estate in Zimbabwe on a large-scale commercial farm. Since then, Farming God’s Way has spread into many countries, being used by churches, missionaries and NGO’s across the African continent.
I was introduced to this farming approach two years ago, and had blogged about my early experience with it, through an update titled What a book can do….
From the very beginning I was so excited about this farming approach. Hence, I had been trying to learn it, practice it and also teach it to others.
The FGW manual (downloadable from the FGW website) as well as the FGW training I attended at Care of Creation in Kijabe, Kenya on the same subject were wonderful; and the demonstration gardens there were so convincing as well, that I wanted to try similar in South Sudan – even before attending the training.
The demonstration gardens clearly show that FGW is better than the conventional approach of farming. In South Sudan it is even difficult to talk about what can be called conventional farming. We better talk of traditional farming.
In the past six months along with colleagues and friends we were able to conduct three FGW trainings. Andrea was one of our trainees from Tonj, South Sudan. He made a comparison between FGW and traditional farming by putting a demonstration garden at the In Deed and Truth Ministries compound. He only used God’s blanket, but didn’t use any input and didn’t follow the recommended spacing of crops. But interestingly the plots, which had God’s blanket, were doing much better.
One of the three trainings I mentioned was conducted in October 2014. I did this training with my friend Nicola in Abinajok, where she runs a clinic for the Episcopal Church of South Sudan (ECSS) of the Diocese of Rumbek. The farming approach was new to all the trainees, but was welcomed by many of them. I look forward to see how they are going to implement it.
In the training we had a man who was, in the beginning, asking us to provide them with a well, water pump and a water tank so that they can make vegetable gardens using irrigation. But later as we were coming towards the end of the training he said, “I was asking you to bring us water pump and water tank. But I have understood that we can start with what we have. Thank you for encouraging us in that way. You also taught us the word of God, and that convinced me to change my wrong ways.” This man actually went ahead confessing some of his wrongdoings in the class.
We also had the area chief attending the training who said, “From what we have learned we have understood that we need to repent and turn to God.”
Apart from FGW trainings in the past six months I was also able to do Community Health Evangelism trainings along with other colleagues and friends (CHE TOT4 in Tonj; CHE TOT3 and TOT4 in East Rumbek County (ERC)).
CHE had been a great instrument in the process of transformation of the communities spiritually and physically. Let me share one example here.
We have a CHE team of five members from a community called Akot, some 20 kilometres from where I live. When they finished TOT 3 early in December last year they planned to mobilize other church people and pastors to evangelize in their community. As a result they formed four groups of evangelism. God gave them great favour and they were able to lead 302 people to Jesus. All of these are now baptized. Out of these 4 were chiefs, and 10 were cattle keepers who are policing the community. Encouraged by this the team has the ambition to take the gospel to everybody in their area.
In addition, along with my friend Nicola and two South Sudanese pastors we conducted a HIV/AIDS and Christian Family workshop in Rumbek, the capital for Lakes State. The participants were pastors and other church leaders from the ECSS church, Diocese of Rumbek.
Pastors Peter and Josph are South Sudanese pastors from the ECSS church, the diocese of Akot, where I am ministering. They have gone through CHE, STS (Simply The Story – an oral bible study approach), and FGW trainings. I had been spending a lot of time with them – helping them to develop as trainers in CHE, STS, and FGW. They are doing very well!
In the 4th quarter of last year I received a phone call from a pastor from a neighboring community. He met one of the pastors who were trained with us in bible storytelling – STS style. He wanted to learn that way, and the pastor from our area gave him my phone number. The story is long. Any way finally I went with my friend Joseph and spent with them four days and conducted two days’ training on bible storytelling. We had 17 pastors in attendance on the first day, and 14 on the second day. This was a rival community which often clashes with the community I live with. It was great experience! I look forward for more training with these pastors.
The following are words from the trainees after we finished the training:
- As a person needs to sharpen his spear continuously what you were teaching us in these two days was like sharpening our spiritual spear, please continue coming to us and help us sharpen our spiritual spears.
- The way you taught us has began to transform us and we are sure it is going to transform our families and churches.
- Our preaching will change beginning this Sunday, which is tomorrow.
- I have never tasted the sweetness of God’s word like this in my life.
- We are ready to teach the stories as we keep them in our hearts.
- I am a widow, and I was weak when I came to this training. But when I learned about the widow who came to Elisha for assistance I am really touched and received power. I am now very happy.
- Sometimes as pastors we become uncomfortable since the people take it personal and think negatively towards us whenever we address some issues. But now we will be free from this. Because if we use the way you had been teaching us they will discover the truth themselves. It will be not us but the bible stories talking to them.
- This method will help people to understand God’s word easily.
- Today I feel as if my spiritual spear is sharpened.
- In this area we have 70 pastors. With time we want all of them be involved in such training.
- Since the rainy season ended it had not rained and when we finished our training today you have seen how God blessed us with rain. That confirms to us that you were sent by God.
Still on STS … during this time I also did two Bible Storytelling trainings with my friend Joseph, each one-day long. This approach of sharing the word of God is growing fast in our area. Apart from the one-day trainings we also did a training of 2 days for 11 pastors at my place. We will do more training with this smaller group while continuing with the one-day trainings that we had been doing every month. Joseph and Peter had been doing the one-day trainings even in my absence.
In January 2012 my boss, Joy Phillips, sent me to a training in Nairobi. That training happened to be the Kairos Course, though our plan was for a different training. The Kairos Course is a condensed course on Christian missions. It was my very first formal training on missions. After finding the course I took several months to read and digest the written content as well as study other materials on Christian missions.
During the training I saw the need for the Eritrean Churches embrace a missions movement. So far I had opportunities to do two trainings on missions with an Eritrean bible school, and another training with the Eritrean Church in Juba. I have a goal to get the Kairos Course translated into Tigrigna language. In the mean time I am working on an excerpt of the Kairos Reader that I hope to make available for readers before the end of this year.
The Leadership Movement
I thought my bowl had enough of movements. Yet there was this new movement coming in – The Leadership Movement.
In the past I had been requested by four different churches in Sudan and South Sudan to train their leaders on leadership. But I thought I was not equipped enough to do that. Nevertheless these requests raised, in me, interested on leadership literature and trainings for myself. As a result I had engaged myself in reading on leadership in the past more than one year. Beyond that God worked through my boss Joy Phillips, Rev. John Kearns and Christ Harbor United Methodist Chucrh congregation to equip me further and make me ready to undertake such ministry opportunities that can accelerate the spread of the gospel. This was to be done by attending a national conference on leadership by International Leadership Institute (ILI). There was a lot of resistance from the devil to stop me from attending this conference, but God who highly values the prayers of his children made it possible for me to come to Nairobi and attend the conference. This conference presented great material on leadership. I am embracing this leadership movement too.
During this period I also had a great time with my family in Nairobi.
Praise God for all these and other ministry opportunities that God enabled us to do as Mango Ministries! I am grateful for all of you who are involved in our ministry through your prayers, financial gifts, word’s of encouragement, etc.
In May and June we have two STS trainings planned. I also will be visiting our CHE teams in the different villages and encourage them as they apply what they had been learning. The rains are coming soon. So I will also be coaching the teams as they practice FGW. Besides, I will keep telling God’s stories in the communities.
Your prayers are highly appreciated!