Well, I wish I could go into detail on this blog about our training, but I can't. However, I do want to explain and share a little.
We are doing BAM (Business as Missions) here at The Location. (I think I'm going to start calling it "The Location" instead of "here at our location" all the time. Sounds more interesting; more mysterious.) And I will say that it is related to agriculture. That's all I'm going to reveal on this blog.
So what was this training? Well, we do agricultural promotion. That means we have a particular crop that we promote for people here to plant and harvest. It is a crop that many don't know a lot about, but it is suitable and can bring them a good income, too. It is also good for the environment in many ways. So, our agricultural promotion program is a win-win situation for us, for them and for the environment. If that is all we did it would be a good thing for The Location and The People here. (I guess we have to start calling them "The People" rather than just "the people we're working with here at our location.")
But our agricultural program also allows us the opportunity to build relationships with these unreached people in these unreached villages. We get to know them through this work and they get to know us. The local government is completely behind our activities, too, because it will help them have an income, help the environment and help the economy. So whenever we go visit these villages there is no suspicion on behalf of the government--"Are they CIA spies? Are they spreading foreign religion?" No, we've answered that question in their minds already--"Oh, they're there promoting The Crop." (I see a trend here: The Location. The People. The Crop.) So as time goes on and we build relationships it will be only natural to share our beliefs with The People. It won't be as problematic because no one will think that is the main reason we're there.
We have designated a group leader in each village for those who are planting The Crop. Most of these people are also the village headman or the vice-headman. And it is these group leaders we invited for a three-day training this past week. And we had a lot of fun together.
Most of these guys live way up in the mountains and out in the jungles. They represent the poorest of the poor, and also the most difficult peoples to access in this country. But we brought them into town to our office and had all of our lessons prepared with pictures on a power-point. We projected this on a big screen and it was all very impressive to them. Most development organizations just have someone talking without any visual aids, or with minimal visual aids. We had our power point presentations, videos, materials for them to touch and hold, and different things for them to eat and taste. It was all new to them and they all returned to their villages excited about the possibilities for planting The Crop.
They are also more motivated than ever because they now see and know for sure that we are for real. Many people visit country villages and promote different crops promising to buy it at high prices. Then when harvest comes the promoters are no where to be found, or they offer prices much lower than what was promised. The government has been guilty of the same thing. Therefore, most villagers are wary of outsiders who come in promoting something and hyping their product. It takes time, but we plan to always do what we say and build their trust. Over time they will see that we are not trying to trick them or take advantage of them.
So I believe our training has opened a lot of doors. I am confident now that when I, or one of our staff, visits these villages in the future we will be more eagerly welcomed. I am confident that we will now get more requests from families in these villages to plant The Crop than we can supply. I am confident they will be more determined to plant The Crop in the right way so that it thrives and produces the best possible harvest.
Mostly, I pray to our God that his Holy Spirit will open doors through all of these activities for us to share about his great love and offer of forgiveness. I pray that lives will be changed and villages transformed. If you have a moment, please pray for these same things, too.