By Tom Benzen | Pocahontas, AR
Can the gospel be heard over the sounds of an empty stomach? Shall we feed the soul and close our compassion against hungry humans? God forbid. Jesus preached the Word but did not send the multitude away until He had met their physical needs. (On the other hand, we must not feed the flesh and starve the soul.)
For anyone wanting to practice pure religion (visiting the fatherless and widows in their affliction, James 1:27), missions is a great experience. Joining evangelism with productive agriculture mixes faith with meaningful physical work. As an agricultural missionary in Africa and India, I have experienced the richness of combining these two ministries. Church members in both places have accepted open-pollinated garden seed donations to enhance their food security. Just as open-pollinated seeds reproduce after “its kind” (God’s design, Genesis 1:12), so speaking the pure gospel message produces spiritual fruit for Jesus Christ.
Three years ago, ten vegetable gardens were started in Sierra Leone, and rice was purchased to plant. A few gardens failed, but several succeeded. Rice production increased significantly, and the church grew!