In Matthew chapter 9, verse 38. Jesus said to his disciples, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.” (NLT)
Wow, was that corn sweet and tender! You didn’t have to bite the kernels off the cob. You could just set your teeth lightly on one end of the cob and then push the cob, like returning the carriage on a typewriter – for those of you old enough to remember what that was like. The corn would empty its tender delicacy into your mouth. The secret was having a brother-in-law growing sweet corn for Green Giant. Compared to the hard corn we considered a treat in the jungles; with each cob only sparsely populated with kernels the bugs hadn’t eaten, Steve Buer’s corn was incredible. Sadly, it can not be grown in the sand we call “soil” here in Central Florida!
Then, just last week Ginny served me corn that reminded me of Steve B’s corn grown for the Giant and picked just hours before the agriculture engineers said the sweetness and tenderness reached its absolute peak. Ginny answered my question. “This is Steve B’s corn.” I almost used my favorite Canadian expression, “no way, eh!” I had seen the garden behind Steve’s house. The soil there struggles to raise the weeds we call “grass” down here. Then Ginny reminded me that Steve had been paying our grandchildren to collect the cow pies Jesse’s cows have distributed around his 6-acre pasture. “No way, eh” came to mind again. How could a plant turn cow manure and sand into delectable corn? I remember being taken to a steakhouse with Mincaye. Mincaye didn’t eat a bite of steak because they had a bottomless supply of sweet corn on the salad bar. The Amazon – got meat but no sweet corn.
My mind wandered back to living in Sub-Saharan West Africa in the 1980’s when hundreds of thousands of people were starving or dying of starvation related diseases. There are famines dotted around our world right now.
I grew up in a “third-world country,” but I had never seen starving people in South America. In West Africa, I learned one thing very quickly. Starving people are not interested in a Gospel presentation any more than someone with a skin ulcer or an abscessing tooth wants to hear a sermon. “People don’t care what you know until they know that you care!”
Not long ago we had a small ITEC team attend a conference in Zimbabwe. When Steve Buer got back from that trip he wasn’t just excited, he was about to explode. He grew up on a farm and farmed his entire life until joining ITEC about 10 years ago. He told me of meeting two Christ-followers in Zimbabwe who owned and managed huge mechanized farms until Robert Mugabe, the President (King) for life, confiscated their farms and broke them up into teeny tiny farmettes. He distributed the tiny plots of land to the general public.
Sadly, Mugabe missed one critical element when acting as an agrarian Robin Hood. The general public didn’t know how to farm. Instead of the two Christ-following farmers fighting to get their farms back saw an opportunity in their misfortune. They started a ministry to teach non-farmers to farm on the very land that had been wrenched from them. Their farming program, Foundations for Farming, uses principles from the Bible to stabilize and orient the people who not only don’t know how to farm but who also don’t know the “Lord of the Harvest.”
I googled, ‘Bible, harvest’ and immediately found 69 verses about harvesting. For example, in Matthew chapter 9, verse 38. Jesus said to his disciples, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.” (NLT) The Bible also talks about soil types, preparing the soil, planting, and weeding. Jesus healed sick people, fed hungry people, repaired crippled limbs for lame people, cast demons out of possessed people, and identified with corrupt tax collectors who were generally despised. He met people’s felt needs. Is it any wonder that they flocked to see him? It is not surprising that they listened to His Message after he met their temporal needs.
In Zimbabwe, two of Jesus’ followers are following Jesus’ example. And now, those two men have offered to allow ITEC to use, copy and modify their program. I-FARM? I-GROW? I don’t know. I am confident God will send some talented additions to the ITEC staff if need be. That will also create some ground floor opportunities for supporting a new training program at ITEC.
P.S. I was asked to tell you that Ginny’s and my grandchildren decided they want to visit Ecuador (4 parents are included). Two of our Grands have just graduated from high school with most of the rest of them close behind. I have really wanted to visit Ecuador one last time. This seemed like the perfect time with plenty of helpers including two nurses and lots of hands, including four that are capable of carrying me. If this body will cooperate, I will be able to point out the snow-capped mountains I climbed. I can introduce these fifth generation members of our family to Ecuadorian cuisine like roasted guinea pig and maybe monkey, wild pig, tapir meat and even live tree grubs (good for bragging rights only).
Ginny and I will be able to point out where she and I met, where Ginny wowed me by jumping over a chain link fence with barbed wire on top while wearing a formal dress. And, there are some very special people I want to introduce to our grandchildren and vice versa. The plans were being made just after I was released from the hospital following some major plumbing work and the installation of a pacemaker. I was feeling great for almost three weeks. Tickets and new passports in hand, I have spent the last month feeling like I have chronic fatigue syndrome.
After assuring hundreds of timid visitors that all would be well as I took them to the jungle where the Waodani showed them a new way of living; now I am the apprehensive and dependent one.
Life is an adventure. Now I am an experienced believer that “Only one life will soon be passed. Only what is done for Christ will last!”