Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Blessed are the Meek

We had the extreme privelege of hosting Brian and Cath Oldreive the last few days, the founder of Foundations for Farming (previously known as Farming God's Way).  For those of you who don't know, Brian is a pioneer for zero-till (conservation) farming in all of Sub-Saharan Africa.  He is invited to speak all over the world.  In just the last few months, he has spoken with various groups and foreign dignitaries in Australia, India and many other African countries.  So, needless to say, we were extremely honored to have him visit us here in little old Chikankankata.

But, I'm not writing this post to dote on all of his accolades.  I'm writing it to share with you the most impactful part of his visit with us.  Over dinner the other evening, Brian and Cath sat there and shared their story about losing their farm (the 2nd largest commercial farm in Zimbabwe) because of the land reforms instituted by the Zimbabwean government.  Now, let me give you some perspective as to who we were listening to:

Brian and his wife Cath, for many years, ran a 3,500 hectre (approximately 7,000 acre) commercial farm in Zimbabwe, the 2nd largest of its kind.  They, through the Lord's guidance, built this farm from the ground up over may years/decades of hard work.  In addition to this, they used this farm as a training facility for rural subsistence farmers to learn better practices to farming, which improved the lives of many of the poor in their surrounding communities.  Then in 2000, everything changed.  The Zimbabwean government instituted a land reform which would pass control of all white-owned commercial farms in Zimbabwe to the black Zimbabweans.  In the course of about a year, Brian and Cath had lost everything they had worked so hard to achieve.

Now, some of the farmers in the community didn't take to kindly to their farms being siezed.  Many faught it tooth-and-nail and even resorted to violence to keep their farms.  But this was not the Oldreive's reaction.  Cath sat there and shared about how the black Zimbabwean who had taken over the land came and screamed at Brian on different occasions when the farm was first seized, but that Brian never lost his cool and always spoke to him gently.  Then just at planting season began, when the gentleman was planting his first maize crop, Brian went to him and asked him if he needed any help.

As I sat there contemplating just how angry I would be and how I would react, I was blown away by this man's gentleness.  Here he was losing everything.  He still lived on the farm, but couldn't farm the land anymore.  He had to watch as another person destroyed his life work and instead of being hateful and trying to find ways to hurt this guy, he was asking if he could help him.  Then Brian reminded us of the verse from the Sermon on the Mount found in the 5th chapter of Matthew, "Blessed are the meek for they will inherit the earth."  It's one thing to read a scripture and conceptually understand it, but to see it lived out through the life of another in such extreme situations is a whole different story.  Needless to say, we all were blown away and greatly encouraged by the humility shown in the life of a very Godly and well respected couple.  Brian left us with one challenge, which I hope will also be a challenge to you as you walk away from reading this post.  "All of Christ's life and ministry were grounded in humility and meekness.  Shouldn't ours be the same?"

To learn more of his story and what God has taught him over several decades of farming and life, go here:

1 comment:

Christy said...

That is an amazing story. Wow.