Over the past 15 years conservation agriculture, with its principles of minimum soil disturbance, permanent soil cover and crop rotation, has gone from being a fringe farming method, often laughed at by sceptical farmers, to being a viable alternative to conventional agriculture. Barry Mann, serving with his wife Heather at Growing Nations in Lesotho, tells us why.
Conservation agriculture is now deemed to be ‘climate smart agriculture’ with many benefits including counteracting the impact of climate change by retaining soil moisture during dry periods, preventing localised flooding, reducing carbon released into the atmosphere, improving soil quality and reducing reliance on chemicals and fertilisers. All whilst improving food security and nutrition through increased yields.
Climate change and caring for the environment are currently front and centre of people’s minds and government agendas across the world, but what can we do to help care for God’s creation whilst also building his kingdom here on earth?
As Christians the important questions to ask are, ‘Why should Christians care about farming methods and the environment?’ and, ‘What does this have to do with AIM and reaching the unreached with the gospel?’
Why should Christians care?
Firstly, God created a world in which all he had made was good (Genesis 1:31) and subsequently, in Genesis 2:15, God took Adam and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. That was our purpose from the beginning, to care for the beautiful and good world that God had created. Our responsibility to care for creation is not something new. Using farming methods that protect our environment rather than destroying it is therefore important.
The principals of Farming God’s Way, taught by Growing Nations in Lesotho, include so much more than practical ‘climate smart agriculture’ methods. Training incorporates transformational development, care for creation, leadership development and kingdom business skills. The gospel is central to and weaved into these messages and provides an opportunity for the team to share God’s love with all who come to learn. People can not only change their lives and restore the land around them physically, but grow spiritually too.
Reaching the unreached
Training farmers across Lesotho is only one part of Growing Nations’ ministry. They also actively equip and mobilise mission workers including the new AIM Southern Region initiative, LEAP Lesotho (Learn, Engage, Apply, Practice) preparing new and potential future missionaries for the mission field. In addition to this, AIM and Growing Nations run Farming Quest, a three week training course to help equip mission workers from AIM and like-minded organisations around the world, giving them tools to help them take the gospel to the unreached.
There are many amazing testimonies to tell of students at Growing Nations whose lives have been transformed spiritually, including three who have gone on to serve God in long term mission work, sharing the gospel through agriculture to the unreached in Mozambique, Malawi and Cambodia.
As Christians we are all called to care for creation and what better way to do it than through demonstrating God’s love to others resulting in both physical and spiritual change? Now is the time, not to sit back and listen to leaders talking. That is a start, but Christians need to take action. Please join us in praying for change; for more workers; and for the resources for them to be equipped and go.