A farming technique changing lives in Africa
Africa (MNN) — Over the many years mankind has been farming, we’ve developed a number of technologies and practices to improve crop yield. We’ve even stepped into genetic engineering to get bigger, fuller, disease-resistant plants. But one ministry is finding that despite all these efforts, modified farming techniques can’t hold a candle to the way God designed the growth of plants in our world.
John Muehleisen is a missionary with World Gospel Mission, a ministry serving in a variety of Great Commission capacities all over the world. Muehleisen himself works with multiple ministries in the area of transformational training. He’s stationed in Uganda.
He says, “We work with churches and Christian groups and try to help them have more effective ministries in their communities. ‘Farming God’s Way’ is one of the tools we have adopted and it’s a lot of fun and quite effective.”
‘Farming God’s Way’ began in Zimbabwe with a farmer named Brian. His crop was failing and finally, he cried out to God for help. Muehleisen says Brian felt like God had been waiting to share something with him for quite some time. God asked Brian to consider farming His way.
“[Brian] started studying forest ecology a bit and started seeing the way the forests were doing well even when his farm was doing very poorly.”
So, Brian combined what he observed with another farming technique called ‘no-till farming.’ After some trial and error, he began seeing an increased harvest. But it wasn’t long before Brian felt God calling him to teach others in the villages. Since that time, the training has spread to South Africa, Uganda, Zambia, and beyond. It continues to grow through workshops today.
This practice involves 12 principles — six of which are biblical, three which refer to agricultural technology, and three that have to do with agricultural management.
The results of Farming God’s Way are anything but subtle.
Muehleisen says, “The guys that I work with, the African pastors and farmers, are just really astounded at the increased yield that it’s bringing with them, as well as the help that it’s giving them in their own walks with the Lord.”
However, it can sometimes take quite a bit of convincing to get farmers to try this new, but really very old, method of farming.
“When we teach this, we hold a workshop in the village and get a bunch of farmers together. We’ve already chosen one farmer to work with and train him so he has a demonstration garden.”
This demonstration garden is where two fields of the same crop are planted side by side. One field uses the traditional methods of the village, and the other field uses Farming God’s Way techniques.
“Farmers are imminently practical people, no matter where they are in the world, and they want you to show them that something will work,” Muehleisen explains.
A difference of “Farming God’s Way”
When World Gospel Mission first got involved with Farming God’s Way, Muehleisen asked some of his farmer friends to attend the training workshop. One farmer named Simon was intrigued and wanted to test it out. However, is wife was very skeptical. Why should they risk their livelihood on this method when it was nothing like what they were taught?
Eventually, they agreed to test it on their smaller field, only about a quarter acre in size. On their full acre field, they farmed as normal.
“He harvested almost double from the quarter acre than they harvested from the full acre they had done traditionally. Probably about a six to seven fold increase in yield which is just amazing.”
Simon and his wife decided that in the next year, they would grow all of their crops Farming God’s Way. Simon’s wife even suggested that they rent more land and hire workers. Simon’s dad, who had been very critical of the Farming God’s Way technique in the beginning, asked Simon to train him.
The physical results of this technique are incredible, and it helps to strengthen Christian farmer’s faith in God. But this method also transforms communities.
“We always encourage [the farmers], do this at a visible place, along a footpath or along a road, and be ready to answer questions from the community when they’re wondering, ‘Why are you doing these things this way?’ Usually when people see that increased yield, their first inclination, especially if they don’t know the Lord, is somehow you’re using witchcraft to get that kind of yield.”
The Christian farmers have been trained to answer that question by explaining that it’s not ancestral spirits who are helping with the crops, but the Spirit of God.
“Usually, though, it takes a couple of times for people to realize and to see it’s this man’s faith in the Lord and his trust in the Lord and his use of some improved agricultural techniques that make a difference,” Muehleisen says.
Just about a month ago, Simon sent Muehleisen a picture that shows just how effective this method is: “They baptized 26 new people in the Nile, and a lot of these were people who had started going to the church and coming to the church because of the impact of him working with them in their gardens and teaching them to farm God’s way and they wanted to give glory to the Lord with their lives.”
Responding to this agricultural story
You may not be a farmer, but that doesn’t mean this story doesn’t involve you. Your prayer support behind ministries like this is so necessary.
Muehleisen says, “A lot of people and a lot of our farmers are living in bondage and we need the power of God to help open their eyes and break these things that are binding them.”
These binds are made up by fears, like being afraid of offending ancestral spirits by farming differently. But, Muehleisen says, “When they come to the Lord, they discover that greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world.”
So, please pray for these barriers to be broken down. Ask God to embolden the farmers who are teaching this farming approach. Pray for them to have the courage to share not only the technical side of this work, but the biblical principles as well.
“We want to have them use this as an opportunity to give the glory to God and also to see how God can use them as agents of transformation within their communities.”
If you’d like to learn more about Farming God’s Way, head to their website. Here, you’ll find an abundance of resources on farming techniques as well as testimonials. Muehleisen says another resource out of Indiana is Agristewards, a partner of Farming God’s Way. Check them out here.
“As a missionary, I’m not a farmer. I’m trained as a pastor. I work in discipleship, and evangelism, and leadership training. And when we started getting involved with Farming God’s Way, it opened up a whole new realm of ministry in rural communities where we were basically putting boots on the Gospel.
“And when churches and the people in the community see how these local churches, which might just be meeting out under a tree or in a mud hut, when they see that the communities are very, very interested in helping bringing all of God’s blessings to a community so that people can experience all of the abundant life Jesus talked about, it’s a powerful, powerful testimony. And I’m just thrilled to be a part of it and see God get the glory in that way.”
To learn more about World Gospel Mission and to contribute to this ministry financially, click here.