There are some amazing young leaders all over Africa who are turning to Farming God’s Way as a tool for holistic transformation because they have seen that short term, one sided perspectives do not result in lasting change.
These leaders tell stories of impotent methods of “development” that smother resilience and create dependency. They have seen handouts and incentives that shackle lives, programs that stifle local initiative, and interventions that leave a wake of harm and despair. Through the pain of these experiences they have searched for a new paradigm of leadership that restores and renews.
Turning to a holistic worldview that incorporates the physical, social, mental/ emotional and spiritual, these leaders stand out as pioneers who model a facilitative and integrated approach to transformation. They have seen the power of resource stewardship of the land intermingling with radical mindset regeneration. Much of their journey is quite solitary as they break ground in bringing change to their communities of influence. They face opposition and persecution in communities burdened by harmful traditions and superstitions yet they persevere bringing a message of hope and restoration.
We had an incredible opportunity to interact with 15 of these leaders who travelled to Eastern Cape, South Africa in May for two weeks of in-depth investment and training in the methods of Farming God’s Way. Delegates attended by invitation and were supported by an incredible network of organizations committed to investing in Africa’s next generation of leaders. EMCC World Partners is one of those organizations. The leaders came from Mali, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Uganda, Zambia and South Africa.
Dan Wiens was invited to co-train with the Farming God’s Team from Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape which is the curriculum development hub for Farming God’s way on the African continent. This incredible team hosted the training and made all the accommodation and meal arrangements for the delegates.
Over the two weeks, classroom teaching was balanced with a variety of practical experiences: compost making, seed and seedling planting, garden and field layouts, and field preparation for planting. We even had a training afternoon on the beach, playing in the sand to practice raised and sunken bed layouts and steep slope management! Each day began with a spiritual component and time for reflection and prayer.
You can imagine that in two weeks a lot of content can be tackled and we were amazed at the hunger for deeper knowledge exhibited by all the participants. The topics covered were:
- The Biblical Keys: Acknowledging God Alone, Considering Your Ways, God’s All-Sufficiency, Sowing and Reaping, Bringing the Full Tithe into the Storehouse, and Staking Your Claim;
- The Management Keys: On Time, To High Standards, Minimal Wastage, with the Fruit of the Holy Spirit;
- The Technology Keys: No Plowing, Mulch Cover, Biodiversity through Crop Rotations and Relay or Cover Cropping, Plant Spacing for Canopy Closure, Feeding Plants from the Top;
- Soil fertility, including soil types, chemistry and biology
- Compost making;
- Pest and disease prevention and control;
- Farm budgeting;
- Seedling nurseries;
- Strategies for effective training;
- Cropping systems for cereals vs mixed vegetables;
- Farming on a slope;
- Raised and sunken beds;
- And a WHOLE LOT MORE!
The practical skills and knowledge gained would have been more than enough reason to invest the funds and time to gather everyone for two weeks. But something very significant happened: the delegates became family to each other. Every day you could see individuals lending a helping hand to others. If someone had a question, another would volunteer an answer. The teamwork was exemplary. Even as people said their goodbyes, a WhatsApp messaging group was formed, and the conversations on there have been incredible! Everyone is posting updates and prayer requests from all over Africa, letting each other know when they are training farmers. Words of encouragement and blessing are copiously given. It is amazing to see. Technical questions get asked and answered, and everyone is supporting each other. It really is an incredible international collaboration!
And if that weren’t enough, our two top trainers in Ethiopia were able to come. One of them, Berhanu Yeshitla was funded through his organization, Open Doors, and the other, Muga Bezabih, we helped raise sponsorship for his flight and accommodation costs through our EMCC network. Twice, we took these men to a local Ethiopian restaurant and talked strategy for how we might see Farming God’s Way extended all over Ethiopia!! Significantly, these two leaders from different organizations and locations became close friends, allies and coworkers for God’s kingdom. How incredible is that!!
But what impacted us the most was the motivations of the delegates: they came with a posture to love and serve God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength and a deep desire to impact their villages, communities and nations with holistic good news. They expressed a combined heart to see God glorified and made famous as Africans turn to Him and His ways. As for ourselves, we went to serve, teach and be an encouragment, but we came back richly served, taught and blessed ourselves. How typical of our loving Heavenly Father!