Thanks for following this journey. I know that many of you are not Christians and despite this you are cheering me on. For this, and your interest, I say thank you. Many of my secular friends across Australia and globally on Twitter and FB will likely find my faith comments strange, forgive me as this strange language will emerge at times as I try and stay true to what I believe Jesus’ Spirit is saying in my heart.
What I am doing may seem foolish to some. But I have always been “different”, and it is that difference that allows me to do some things that others struggle to do. When I was 23 years old, I felt there was a lot in the call of Jeremiah (Ch. 1) for me. I remember trying to share my tender and alive faith to some school friends when I was 13 and I could see they were not interested. This saddened me and it was the same while doing a B.Ag.Sci. at UWA, then again in the Ag Department while leading the No-Tillage revolution in Australia in the 1990’s. But I knew that Jesus was (and is) real in my inmost spirit and that I could not ignore his teachings and so I was determined not to follow a path against his life-teachings. This faith warmed my heart which I have often shared and been told not to share.
When I was in my mid 40’s I felt disillusioned with God that I stopped praying, reading my bible and going to church. I felt disappointed that God did not take out (avenge) those who believed and promoted things about me that were not true. Then 5 years ago, I told several people that I had no faith, and I became dry and bitter, something that was never who I used to be. Out of sadness of heart (brokenness) I said a simple prayer; “God, if you are still there, please come and get me!” What happened next is a long story and clearly miraculous to me. For months I wondered the house singing “I feel Him in my fingers, I feel Him in my bones, love is all around me everywhere I go”.
So, here I am, blogging from my COVID-19-isolated-travel balcony in Bujumbura, Burundi, after selling the Morawa wheat farm of 2,750 ha with a Clearing Sale on 12th March (I may not get back for it). My journey may seem like folly, especially leaving Perth and the Covid-19 “safe” state of WA. It seems that I have got out between the waves of Covid-19 and its next mutated version (in UK and South Africa). Monique and I know this is a risk, but we have had enough signposts (faith) to be resolved that this is what I/we are meant to do. Monique will stay in Perth and keep working at Esther House and on our books, she may travel to Africa in 2021 and I may travel back to Perth, as it seems sensible to do so.
Why Start in Burundi?
About five years ago Barry Court, my good friend, met with then Burundian President, Pierre Nkurunziza, who asked Barry to teach Burundians the Australian style of farming/technology. Having been retired for a while Barry said, “I will see what I can do” and he then asked me to step into this role. I have since had many fruitful emails, and WhatsApp, exchanges with some smart Burundians who are keen to see such a Farming Project succeed.
How to Fund the Work?
We had thought, that with our 5,500 ha wheat proceeds from recent years, that we would be able to fund some of the work through Crabtree Agricultural Consulting (www.no-till.com.au). However, with 2017, 2019 and 2020 having <110 mm of May-Aug rainfall and hot-dry Aug-Sept we have been drained of that option. This makes this journey even more of a faith one (or folly). It reminds me of Peter’s response to a cripple man pleading for money, Peter said to him “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give, in the name of Jesus….” So, silver and gold we do not have, but what we have we give – time, energy, enthusiasm, commitment to a worthy cause and faith (in Jesus), but not so much in myself.
The lack of funds baffles me as to how this is going to work. The idea of Arise African Agriculture (AAA) Pty Ltd was for it to be a funder to snowball and empower local farming communities into co-operatives across at least five African countries. Thereby lifting whole communities together to reduce the impact of cunning, greed, and corruption. But this is now impossible without kickstart funds or some “miracle”. I am now not so naïve (60 yo) to think that we can “easily do” what many others, who have gone before, have struggled to do – please read the rest of this website for the bigger picture.
For Profit Component
So, we have modified our plan to have both a “For Profit” and “Not for Profit” lines of AAA. Obviously, this will have to be transparent and accountable to avoid greed, accusations, and suspicion pitfalls of some past African Projects. See “News at Bukanga-Lonzo (English)” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gfMyRZadSH0. But it does open the door for commercial farmers, from all over the globe, to take a risk on us and invest into what we are doing – for profit. I will discuss this plan in some detail in the next blog. Thanks for your love, prayers, and support.
Let the story begin!