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MFM Christmas Miracle

“Potato Boy” to Farm Manager

God Answers a Prayer by Bringing a Student Full-Circle

(NOTE: Previously you might have been made aware of our Sustainable Farm Project we are raising funds for this year. See it here. This is the “back story” of how that began.)

 

In August I was in Michigan helping my oldest son move. In September I was in Africa checking on the MFM farm project and preparing for our January medical mission. October in California. November was Thanksgiving. Now here it is December again.

I’m sitting at the kitchen table, looking at Christmas decorations and writing. At this time of year “Christmas Miracle” gets thrown around quite a bit. That brings to mind my friends in Africa and all that has changed over the past dozen years in Chome village.

My reason for writing this today is to tell you the story of one young man that my Dad met early on in his adventure there in Chome. I wish Dad and some of our other friends — both in the U.S. and in Tanzania that have passed away — could know the end this story. They all invested so much in Godwin and other young people there in Chome village.

The young man’s name is Godwin. So this is his story and sort of a Christmas Miracle — not because it happened at Christmas but only because I am thinking of it this season and it really is a miracle to me. And you have the chance to participate in your own Christmas Miracle right now.

When My Father’s Mission volunteers first met Godwin in Africa, he was a shy and somewhat unsure young man. We were in Chome, Tanzania conducting Medical, Dental and Vision Clinics. He was having a lot of difficulty in school. The school headmaster had warned Godwin he might have to leave school over his very poor performance.

It was not because Godwin couldn’t do the school work. As it turned out, the issue was much more simple. He couldn’t read his books due to vision problems.

Godwin came to our Vision Clinics at the school. Debi and Jerry Verrill took a special interest in him and discovered, with our limited resources, they could make a little difference for Godwin with some glasses. They were not nearly strong enough but would allow him to read.

Their extra passion and care for him got him through that school year. Even then Godwin’s thankful spirit showed. He brought Debi and Jerry a sack of potatoes from the garden to Asante (Thank You in Swahili). Debi took to calling Godwin their “potato boy”.

Later we were able to get a proper pair of glasses made for him through an eye doctor here in the States that we delivered during our next trip into Tanzania.

Godwin’s abilities and confidence soared from then on. He landed a job selling agricultural products. He did so well the company owner sent him to other countries to open offices. The owner even returned to India leaving Godwin in charge.

Debi and Jerry were able to be at his wedding a few years ago while on another mission trip with MFM. Godwin now has a wife and two young children. Life is good. He has done well. He lives in the city now. But something was still nagging at him. Something unfinished for him. Godwin’s heart was always with WHS / MFM and Chome, his home village.

Godwin with his wife and one of the children.

Godwin with his wife and one of the children.

One day after returning from a busing trip Godwin’s wife asked a very pointed question— “What are you doing for the people that helped you so much”? Well, that question had been on his heart for some time.

Godwin contacted MFM and offered his services. Our discussion turned to the Farm. Being a natural fit for Godwin, we began strategizing on a basic plan that would take set the farm on a solid foundation allowing it to maintain itself and feed the school — a manager, small house, farm truck, electricity and water. We talked in a general sense about what skills a manager needed to run the farm.

Then we explored ideas for the next stage — of how the farm would grow — which crops for profit, crops to experiment with in small amounts, maybe a fish farm, a tractor (will hire one for now). At all times we have kept in mind how to be “good neighbors” to those living next door. Could we share water and how to avoid cattle grazing on our farm.

All this time I didn’t consider Godwin for the manager. He had a great job. Why would he change when those are hard to come by. That is where this story becomes my miracle.

I was praying for an answer to the dilemma I was facing of finding a way to get the farm running. There were not any funds to pay a manager. I didn’t even know what that should cost. Pay scales are so different from here in the U.S. I didn’t know what to propose to the board.

Godwin came up with a proposal and some costs for a house. We added in costs for a truck and some essential things and before I knew it we had the basic proposal for a farm budget. But the manager position was the most important item of all. I had a feeling Godwin was our man.

I was quite excited at how much he knew about not only farming but life and dealing with people. Things he learned from being in agriculture product sales and dealing with the farmers.

I am impressed by the ideas Godwin has. He is forward thinking but realizes progression will be in stages. It can’t all happen at once. Our plan is to get the basic farm functioning then as it grows it can support itself. We pray God will provide funds for this first stage but also bless the land so it is abundant and can provide funds for education as well as growth of the farm.

Godwin using a chainsaw to clear trees off the farm.

Godwin using a chainsaw to clear trees off the farm.

This shamba, or farm, has been sitting for a few years. MFM had assisted in purchasing it. But, as with any organization there have been several administrative changes. The distance from the school, and the lack of funds to get 50 acres into shape for farming had been obstacles.

A few acres could have been farmed to start but with no assurance it would be sustainable. And the distance from school was just enough to make it feel too risky to spend the few funds they had on the farm. Far better to buy food. A sure thing.

What was needed was a full time farm manager, a good plan, and some financial assistance to get the project off to a good start. We have the Manager in place. Now we need your assistance with the financial aspect. MFM projects are funded fully by donations from caring people like you — no government or church organization support.

The farm will be sustainable and supply food to the school and cash crops will fund scholarships rather than MFM raising money every year. We have been looking for that component for several years.

I truly believe God put Godwin in front of us several years ago to assist him. Then he gave Godwin several growing experiences to prepare him with the skills and knowledge he needed. Now God is impressing him to return to his “roots” in more ways than one.

I was originally nervous to ask Godwin to change his life and manage the farm. Not that I wasn’t sure he could do the job but it takes a lot to move your family to a new place. A lot to leave a good job with no real promise of anything but hard work.

What if it doesn’t go well? What if the money doesn’t come for the house and vehicle? What if the water dries up in that arid land? What if the land isn’t good for growing? What if…..?

But Godwin assures me his wife supports him. And he believes 100% that God supports him.

So, it won’t always be smooth. There will be difficulties ahead. There always are. But God connected us with Godwin those years back. He made the farm available. And we almost lost it. More on that in another story. Now he opens the way for all the pieces to come together — in His own time. And brought Godwin from growing potatoes in his garden to managing the farm.

Now my questions are — What if Dad and Martha, a lady from Pennsylvania that raised money to buy the farm, could see this now? What kind of influence can the farm be to the neighbors? Can it become a model for other organizations to follow? What if, in that arid land, it just keeps raining on that farm when it doesn’t rain anywhere else nearby? What if….?

UPDATE:
Since I was there in September, Godwin has cleared the land of brush and trees. It is ready for tilling and planting when funds come. Next step is getting water from the river and building the house and buying a truck. It is not an easy place to access from main roads. Sandy soil. Mud when it rains. Godwin already broke his small little road car going to work there. We need a used 4-wheel drive truck.

Burning some of the wood for charcoal used for cooking.

Burning some of the wood for charcoal used for cooking.

Godwin and I really need your help to get this project off the ground. Maybe we can get another Christmas Miracle. God hasn’t brought all this together now just to abandon it. He didn’t just drop the money in our laps either. But He has given us all an opportunity to participate.

Any gift you can make to the farm at this Christmas season will be wonderful. Even enough for a few bricks in the house or another foot of digging a canal to bring water helps. Or maybe you pay for the whole roof or house. It will all go together to finish the job. Maybe you can give a little now and again after the first of the year. Tax break in both years!

You can donate Online by clicking the DONATE NOW button.

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Or if you prefer to send a check:

(better for us because there is a fee to make online transactions)
My Fathers Mission
P.O. Box 186
Keene, TX 76059

 

And if you prefer to make a pledge or want to give in the New Year, just drop us a note and let us know so we can make informed plans and efficient use of the money that is available.

Contact Me:
Doug Bendall
817-487-3222
doug@myfathersmission.org

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