The business of restoration
By Emily Montesano
Looking over his dusty field, Wolde remembered a time when his family’s 30-acre farm was lush and vibrant. But inheriting land split between his siblings meant that his farm was both limited and overworked. Six months a year were marked with hunger, with only one meal per day to sustain him and his family.
But this is not God’s heart. In John 10:10, Jesus tells us, “I have come so that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
We know that God is good, and is for His people. He created us in perfect relationship with Him, to enjoy His good gifts and abundant blessings. God is working to redeem the whole of creation. He is in the business of restoration. Fifty years ago, Wolde’s family farm in Ethiopia was vast and full of life, filled with trees and abundant harvests. But as the family grew, the land was split into smaller plots, and more land was needed. Trees were cut down to make space. The soil became overworked and sandy, and heavy rain washed a lot of it away.
Wolde inherited poor soil. With no other options, he was forced to try to make ends meet with what he had. But no matter how hard he tried, he could never grow enough to provide enough food for him and his family. For half of the year, they only ate one meal a day. His children became weak.
But then he heard that the local church was teaching farmers a new type of farming – called conservation agriculture – one that could increase his crop yields by 3 to 4 times! He couldn’t believe it was true, but had little to lose. While he was there, the trainers taught Wolde how to replenish the land with compost, mulch and minimum tilling. He also learned about God’s heart for restoration.
Wolde got to work. He replenished his dusty fields into healthy soil and began reaping higher yields! He soon had a harvest large enough not only to feed his family but to sell as well. The amount of time required to maintain his crop reduced, he experienced new community and received a new heart for God’s creation. “The soil is now improving, and it’s growing better yields. We are seeing the difference within months,” Wolde exclaimed joyfully.
Catching a glimpse of God’s heart for restoration in his own family and community, he decided he couldn’t wait to tell others and became an ambassador of this mission in Ethiopia. He shared, “The basic principle of conservation agriculture starts with our relationship with God, our neighbours, and the resources God has given us. In Ethiopia, we have destroyed the environment as the population has grown. This has affected the land, our communities, and our churches. We are now involved in a restoration movement.”
Poverty is a result of broken relationships; relationships with God and people, within ourselves, with each other, and with creation. Any attempts to address poverty must focus holistically, not only on the economic aspect of poverty – but the social, emotional, and spiritual aspects as well.
Thanks to God, Wolde’s field is now thriving and providing him and his family with what they need to live life to the fullest. He eagerly tithes to his church and builds relationships with his neighbours. He is always smiling.
The teaching Wolde received was part of the ministry work of Tearfund. Honouring God’s mission of restoration and inviting others into seeing His earth restored. Acting as Jesus’ hands and feet, giving people the resources they need to lift themselves out of economic, social, emotional and spiritual poverty.
Learn more at www.tearfund.ca.