Fertile soil

Andrew and Margaret work among the Islamic Nyamwezi people. They discuss how conservation agriculture has helped make inroads into the community. 

In 2015, the Lord led us to a farm among one of the poorer and more marginalised Nyamwezi villages on the outskirts of Tabora, Tanzania. The area’s open deciduous woodland boasts the only beekeeping college in East Africa. Local skills have passed on from one generation to the next as men spend months out in the forests during the dry season collecting valuable honey. It was our joy and privilege to serve these subsistence farmers who welcomed us among them. The village leaders shared their felt needs at our first meeting: improve farming, year-round water, and better education. They were enthusiastic about us introducing conservation farming as we explained it increases crop production, conserves water, and trains people how to mulch and make compost from local resources. 

Starting out 

Our very first training seminar opened the doors to relationships with over twenty households of people of influence in the village. We taught villagers conservation agriculture principles. The results were varied. The Nyamwezi have so many resources and natural medicines right in their fields, including mango, papaya and moringa. At the mention of moringa, one old man piped up, “I use moringa regularly, too…we should pay attention to these ideas you have shared and put them into practice…”  

Several tried making homemade compost and practiced no-till farming on a portion of their gardens. One industrious Sukuma farmer was so enamoured that he organised teaching for others. He then started a church across the road from his farm, to return to God the blessings which he had been given. 

God’s heart for restoration 

The training sessions provided opportunities for important and life-changing spiritual conversations with farmers. Biblical farming principles reveal God’s heart to restore not only the land but our relationship with him. We share about sin, but that Jesus opens the way to be saved! In the training sessions, the earth becomes great teaching soil, literally watching it go from being depleted (dead), to being replenished with nutrients and a new nutrient profile. It’s the same as we follow Christ. We need good input and fertile soil.  

The agricultural seminars led to the village trusting us and the trainees invited us to their homes to show us their fields. Even if they weren’t following the principles we taught, they still wanted us to come and meet their neighbours, which gave us more opportunity to share about God’s promises. The village chairman gave us permission to show the Jesus film in several places and times. We also received regular invitations to share with the villagers on harvest days at the local mosque, even an invitation to speak to all at the mosque, sharing the gospel clearly with all. 

Last year, the Lord led us to Tabora where we are working with the church to begin the Tabora Bible School. From this central location, students receive theological education and are equipped to spread the gospel throughout the region. Conservation agriculture is a great method for local evangelists to be able to self-support their families as well as to help them to come alongside their neighbours. Farming becomes a natural part of conversations in teaching biblical principles.

Andrew and Margaret

Andrew and Margaret

Andrew and Margaret have served for 30 years as disciple makers and church planters in Tanzania. They have worked among the Nyamwezi since 2015.

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