MSI Long-termer served in Zhaojue during 2009-2018
Agriculture includes planting (agronomy, horticulture), breeding (livestock, aquaculture), fishery and forestry. It is the first profession that ever appeared on the face of the earth. Although fewer and fewer people in developed countries are engaging in agricultural activities, as long as there is mankind, agriculture as a profession will never disappear because its first and foremost purpose is to provide the food needed to sustain life. In remote areas where commercial and industrial development is difficult, agriculture is often the only viable economic activity.
Since MSI’s work is focused inland, we engage in most types of agriculture other than in fishery. Our services characteristically relate to grassroots farmers, who are simple and content, but often uneducated and living in poverty. Profits achieved through farming are limited. This is understandable because if farmers (who are the baseline in the economic chain) grasped high profits, and each succeeding level in turn grabbed their share, how exceedingly high the price of a commodity would become when it reached the end-users. The product farmers are producing is food, which is indispensable; if it were exceedingly high priced, it would cause many societal problems. As a result, most countries try to keep the profits achieved at a low level. Our objective is to serve and help the farmers reap a more favorable harvest.
You reap what you sow. That seems to be a matter of course but, in fact, your melons may get flooded and your beans eaten by birds and insects resulting in a hard year with nothing to show for it. The value of agricultural expertise is to help turn hard work into a better harvest. Moreover, agriculture provides the best opportunity for one to learn humility before God the Creator, because even with our best attempts to control the environment, there will still be unexpected occurrences (individual divergence, natural disasters, etc.). At our remote location, how can we not turn our eyes to God daily and pray, not just for agreeable weather, but also for His merciful hand?
While short-term agricultural instructions can be of a great help to better educated farmers – this is not the case for farmers from minority groups who can barely write their own names, let alone deal with scientific theories. To them, sitting down to listen to intensive training is a waste of time. Technical training for these farmers requires creativity and innovative teaching methods, and also physically spending time with them, sharing in their challenges, some of which even their teachers have not encountered.
Here, I want to encourage more agricultural experts to come. If you would like to participate in short-term service, come a few times during the different seasons; see the climate changes; understand the local rural culture; understand how the local people face environmental changes; gather information to make an informed assessment. When you meet with farmers who have encountered failures, if you have not had the opportunity to be accompanied by one of our long-term workers, it would be possible to conclude that a particular project is not suitable for this area.In fact, I also want to encourage upcoming young brothers and sisters that choosing a profession in agriculture can be a good choice for being used by our Father in serving the poor. If you have already completed your training, note that in remote places like ours we do not have sophisticated and expensive equipment or advanced techniques. What is needed is your ability to creatively put simple techniques to practical use, to help find alternatives to resources that are needed but lacking there.
If you are already an agricultural expert and ready to make a sacrifice in cross-cultural ministry, we sincerely welcome you! We need agricultural experts of different fields in our teams to help evaluate, research and identify the most effective means for development to help the local farming community. Through the witness of unified teamwork, the local people will see our merciful God has not abandoned them, our loving Father has not forsaken them, and that salvation from our Lord Jesus is just as available to them as it is to these foreign experts.