METHODIST Missions Society missionaries, Francis and Angela Lim, are using agriculture as a platform to proclaim the Word to reach out to the villagers in Fujian Province, China with much success.
They have been living with the farmers and the community in a village there for more than a year, training them to practise natural farming methods in a self-built model farm of about 100 sq m.
Initially, 15 farmers were trained and they planted more than 10 varieties of vegetables. Now more than 30 people are involved in these farming activities and good relationships have been built with the community.
The school nearby sent batches of students to the farm as part of their ECA. Mr Lim built up his contacts over many sessions of tea and meal fellowship at the farm centre.
Vegetables like long beans, tomatoes, brinjal, corn, radish, cabbage, bittergourd and cucumber were rotated over a period of three to four months. Harvested vegetables were given to the villagers By the end of last year, more land was leased to establish a permanent location for training in farming methods. As a result, another 20 people were trained. However, three typhoons hit the province recently and fruit crops were destroyed. Training was postponed for four months as the farmers sought alternative means of livelihood.
Mr and Mrs Lim became a talking point among the farmers, who were curious to know why the couple was planting vegetables to give away. Mr Lim’s reply was that it was their labour of love to the community.
Soon, they became known to the community as a friendly and helpful couple and many families started to invite them to their homes for meals. Then, they began to reach out to the children in the village. They started two kindergarten classes for children from eight to 12 years and two English tuition classes for youth from 13 to 16 years. Games, parties and English-learning activities were also organised for the young people.
Looking back, they realised that they could not have got this far without first building a platform in order to reach out to the community. They demonstrated care and concern by working with the villagers in the farm. They also listened to their woes and complaints and constantly comforted and prayed with them.
Col (Retd) Quek Koh Eng is the Area Director of the Methodist Missions Society.