By: Roy Thagard, long-term candidate currently raising support to serve with his wife Denise and daughter Abby in CAR.
Life as an Agriculture Worker: What do you take for granted?
Spring has always been my most favorite time of year. This season brings nice weather (I don’t like the cold!), and signs of life everywhere you look. Seeing the trees budding with new leaves and blossoms, seeing berries begin to fruit, and planting season all bring wonderful smiles and memories to my mind.
Farmers love this time of year as well. As the season begins, our farmers are off with the perfect potential to succeed for the season. Their fields are prepared, seed and fertilizer are purchased, and they have the ability to control pests when necessary. They will supply the best possible yield of food and fiber for consumers at the end of the season.
As consumers, we can take for granted things that can go wrong during the growing season for a farmer. It can rain too much or too little. It can get so hot that plants will not pollinate. Insects and disease can destroy a crop that is not protected. Wind can blow plants over, making them nearly impossible to harvest. I have often said a farmer is a professional gambler—always having to manage risks in order to make a profit.
This season has started out very difficult for many farmers I work with in Greene County, NC. A recent rainfall event brought 6 inches of rain during a 24-hour period. Flood waters from upstream have caused a local creek to flood its banks, destroying many fields along its path through the area. Farmers lost an estimated $760,000 of fertilizer and seed they will have to replace in these fields to have an opportunity for production this season. The rains have continued to come, delaying planting significantly for these farmers. Many of you know that farmers have a small window to plant their crops or the crops will not succeed. One farmer, who lost 80 acres of tobacco due to flooding, told me that in 40 years of farming he has never had a season when he could not plant his crops on time. States along the Mississippi River and places in Virginia are in much worse conditions.
When farmers share their stories of failure to me, I want to help them. I am also more aware of how much I take for granted. These farmers who are affected have done everything right to this point of the season, and yet they were still affected. These are some hypothetical examples that we may take for granted:
- I studied for that test and did my best, but I only made a 72. Now I run the risk of being out of the academic program.
- We have an emergency fund, but our water heater flooded our basement and it will take more than we have to fix it.
- My child is chronically sick and I’ll lose my job if I take more time off from work.
When these storms come, our immediate reaction is often of worry or fear. Yet Jesus reminds us not to let worry control us. Matt. 6:31-33 tell us, “Do not start worrying: ‘Where will my food come from? Or my drink? Or my clothes…’ Your Father in heaven knows that you need all these things. Instead, be concerned above everything else with the Kingdom of God and with what he requires of you, and he will provide you with all these other things.” (GNT)
As Denise and I work towards our funding and departure goals, the worry begins to creep inside of me. Will the house sell? Can we de-clutter and/or sell all of our things? How will Abby respond as we transition and learn languages? That funding target number sure is big, how will we ever get there? I realize these worries are not of God. The more I contemplate them, the less I am focused on the Kingdom of God and the requirements God has for me today. No matter my storm, Jesus promises he is there in the present to meet my needs. I sure take God’s provisions and promises for granted.
It is great to see these farmers help each other through this storm. If you are faced with fear about a recent storm, I hope you will be encouraged to allow God to provide for you through your struggle. Pray for farmers to be able to weather these floods. If US farmers struggle to plant a crop after a 6-inch rainstorm, imagine how difficult it must be for farmers in 3rd world countries who endure similar catastrophes. As you are praying for us, know that this transition will have its challenges for us. We covet your prayers for smooth transitions during our journey. “Yet in everything, give thanks to God the Father in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (I Thess. 5:18) Amen
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