by Neville Siebert
In 2003 Sharon and I had a life changing experience on the same day and minute when we gave our lives to the Lord.
I had the privilege of being in senior management for 25 years in the food manufacturing industry.
As a family, we have all enjoyed playing squash provincially, league and socially. This is where I was blessed to have met Craig Rowe and Grant McClucky. I started realizing that they had something that I wanted. That was God’s light in them.
I started attending Community Ministries where Craig was the pastor in 2003 and attending home cell with Grant and Rose McClucky.
When we said, we wanted to join the church, Greg and Dale Eland came around and visited us and explained the mission and vision of the church. On their second visit, they asked us if we had given ourselves to the Lord. There and then we prayed the sinner’s prayer and gave our lives to the Lord.
For three years, I irritated everyone in the church trying to get involved in one of the disciplines in the church but nothing seemed to fit.
One Sunday in 2006 we received notice that Grant Dryden was coming to the church to teach on Farming God’s Way.
We attended the training and realized this was our passion and what Father God wanted us to do.
At the time, I was a factory manager for a private company milling paprika and chilies and exporting their produce internationally. Over a nine-year period, the management of the company realized the company location was not geographically correct and needed to be moved closer to their larger clients and a port. The port in question was Cape Town and when this decision was made I was left feeling very unsettled as we were very comfortable in Johannesburg. Sharon encouraged me and helped me to realize this was a whole new season in our lives; I became very excited about new prospects and a transitional change.
In a cell group meeting two months prior to the factories move to Cape Town, Hennie Schoonwinkel and Reon Louw came and shared the missionary work they were involved in, in Western Zambia. The more they spoke the more I realized and witnessed that further discussions needed to take place with them as they had been looking for somebody with Farming God’s Way experience.
What transpired further was a follow up meeting on the following Saturday, and this resulted in me handing in my resignation by the Monday.
Following this, it led me to visiting the missionary location in question for three days a week later, just for me to get clarity and direction if Father God was in all of this. At 06:00 on the Sunday morning as I was walking in a local village The Lord gave me such conviction that I fell to my knees weeping much to the concern of the locals starting their morning fires.
I returned home with the deep conviction that this is what we were meant to do. Sharon has been the most amazing support and has been equally committed throughout this whole time.
After a three month stay in Cape Town ensuring the new factory was erected and operational, we moved to Sinjembella, Western Zambia.
My initial God-given mandate was to come to West Zambia and build relationships and walk alongside the people. This has subsequently developed into having a real love for the people and beginning to share with them the Farming God’s Way skill I had acquired.
During the first year, we had the opportunity of helping the chief in the local village plant his maize crop using the Farming God’s Way process.
This resulted in the chief being blown away with the yield and success of the crop. This was the experience of the other village folks who implemented the Farming God’s Way process in their fields as well.
This year, in the village Musheshimuli eighteen people will be doing a Farming Gods Way field.
In villages where Farming God’s Way was trained, we have 150 people from the region ready to be trained in 2017.
The work has increased significantly and now includes vegetable gardens. To date there is a total of 116 gardens in 7 villages.
This has been so rewarding to hear about people’s testimonies, and that the families are having meals with vegetables twice a day.
Farming Gods Way training has been such a meaningful way to spread God’s word.
Lord willing, we want to be committed to serving God and his people here for the next five years and possibly longer.
We would like to be able to leave the local people with the knowledge and means of continuing the work in the area.
Our vision is to enable every man and woman in our area to be able to farm using the Farming Gods Way principles to a high standard which will release them from the yoke of poverty and allow them to walk in Gods promise of a full abundant life.
We are situated in Western Zambia along the Kwando River, boarder between Zambia and Angola in a village called Lwimbi just outside Sinjembella. We operate mostly North and South of our Village, the villages mostly lie on the floodplains along the Kwando River. Driving south is a 68km drive and takes 2hrs to drive. Driving North 60km and also takes 2hrs to drive, all roads are bush roads.
My heart is driven by my love for the local Losi people. The people we are with are poor in knowledge and resources, but gentle, loving, hardworking people and their survival is solely from the land.
The people are subsistence farmers. Both husband and wife till the land and protect their crops from animals and birds sometimes to the death. In 2015 an elderly lady was trampled and gored to death by an elephant while protecting her land. This happened at the time of year when the elephants migrate from the game reserve to the Kwando river flood plains.
The reality is that with the slash and burn system learned from their forefathers the land has been decimated resulting in poor crops and low yields. The consequence to this has resulted in the men in the villages having to travel long distances to look for work as labourer’s due to their lack of skill and work experience. This leaves the villages without men and the family structure of a much-needed father-lead home.
This causes disruption in their lives with wives taking young adolescent men for sexual activities further resulting in a dysfunctional family structure.
AIDS is prevalent; the men living away from home for lengthy periods are returning home and spreading sexually transmitted diseases.
I currently work closely with a local gentleman called Shaft he is my friend, colleague, translator and many times my adviser when learning the local ethics, culture and language.
My wish is to release Shaft to do what I am doing and for me to mentor other men and woman to spread Farming Gods Way principles, further and wider in Western Zambia.
I am also concentrating on vegetable gardens where there are boreholes. We have worked with the community and done training for Farming Gods Way for vegetables.
In Likulushitu village, there were 30 gardens planted with amazing testimonies of how families are eating vegetables twice a day were previously they would sometimes go months without vegetables. People were collecting various bush leaves and cooking them up to supplement their starch diet. In the rainy season before the pumpkins have ripened they would eat the pumpkin leaves.
We are concentrating on healthy and nutritious vegetables. Root; leaf; fruit; sweet potatoes; spinach; rape; Chinese cabbage; beetroot; onions; tomatoes; and beans.
I do see myself as blessed and privileged to be able to work in this remote area were people are desperate to learn, but sadly at the same time we have witnessed the people entwined in ancestral worship and witch doctors.
This has not dampened our enthusiasm because it has been a privilege to bring Gods message to these people and to see Gods hand at work with His children and especially in my life.
This year has been the most purpose driven year of my life. At the same time, it has been hard adjusting to this new way of life.
Sharon has been involved in early childhood education she is not qualified but has done training with Brainboosters, and brought basic kits with to use to teach children basic skills need. She loves the children, and the activities. They are hungry to learn and like little sponges soaking up everything taught to them, always early for the class mostly about an hour, patiently wait for their learning time. Sharon has included Shaft’s wife Monica who has been assisting Sharon and translating.
Both Sharon and I have enough work here in Western Zambia to keep us operating for years God willing.
Farming God’s Way
Farming God’s way is an amazing Godly solution to the food security and poverty crisis for the rural poor.
It was designed before man was on the face of the earth, when God put His laws in place to govern His creation and their inter-relations with one another. God is the master farmer and He has been farming this way since the beginning. God graciously revealed His truths on how He looks after creation to a wonderful team of Godly men to bring the full package to realization and still we are learning from Him.
Farming God’s Way has a proven track record of success since 1984, where Brian Oldrieve first pioneered these practices on Hilton Estate in Zimbabwe on a large scale commercial farm, eventually cropping 3500 hectares. Since these small beginnings, Farming God’s Way has spread into many countries, being used by churches, missionaries and NGO’s to create the critical mass of effectiveness needed to roll our Farming God’s Way across the continent.
Farming God’s Way is not just a technology but a well-balanced biblical, management and technological solution for the agricultural domain, to equip the poor to come out of poverty, with what God has put in their hands and to reveal the fullness of His promised abundant life.
The Word of God says “My people perish because of a lack of knowledge.” We must acknowledge the importance of teaching the poor faithfulness in the agricultural domain before the rest of the continent’s potential can be revealed.
Mark 16:15 “Go into all the world …”
It gives me great pleasure to endorse this work and to give it my fullest support. Our prayer is that we don’t only minister to the spiritual part of man, but the mental and physical part as well. To bring dignity to a man is a wonderful thing, especially to do it in the name of Jesus Christ, the greatest farmer who has ever lived. I pray that this work would continue to grow and be supported financially and mostly in prayer by God’s people as these brave soldiers go into the neediest areas of our continent and preach God’s Gospel in a practical way. Francis of Assisi said, “Preach the Gospel at all costs and, if you really have to, use words.” This is what Farming God’s Way is doing. They are preaching God’s Word in a practical way. May God bless them richly as they continue to be obedient to the vision and the call that He has put on their lives.
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Reference: Siebert Missions