Today I’m pleased to introduce Sarah Bedgar Wilson, M.S. as a guest blogger. She is the co-owner of Wilson Farm, Jamestown, North Dakota, where she, alongside her husband, Jeremy and their two daughters, ages 3 and 1, produce corn, wheat, soybeans, and pinto beans. She was raised on her family’s farm in Maryland, where her extended family raises dairy heifers and a variety of crops. You can learn more about her “Farmer on a Mission” work at http://farmeronamission.blogspot.com.
While driving across the prairie on a starry night nearly two years ago, I prayed, “Lord, please help me to tell others about how you have called me to farm and to be a steward of your gifts.” Before I got home, the idea had come to me for the “10 Heifer Prayer”.
Each spring our Sunday school donates their collection to Heifer International, and each year the children have raised enough for a goat or a few chickens to donate to needy families around the world, but rarely enough to buy even one heifer. I asked the council if they would help me to rally our church to help the Sunday School children raise not enough for one heifer, but TEN heifers ($5,000). This would be an amazing gift that would provide a rural community in Ukraine over 40 gallons of milk a day. I also asked if they would help me to teach the children about the basic biblical lessons of creation and stewardship and how they are being applied in agriculture today. We called it faith-based ag education.
“Team Heifer” was formed and it turns out that, with God, anything really is possible. Our church and the community were energized by the 10 Heifer Prayer. On “Sundae Sunday” the children built a 50-foot long ice cream sundae in our fellowship hall, we had Sunday School lessons designed to fit the 10 Heifer Prayer theme, some nutty gal appeared on occasion in a cow costume (yep, it was me), Vacation Bible School was themed on creation and we even toured a dairy farm! To conclude the project, I was asked to give a sermon, to share the story of how my family has been called to farm and serve as stewards of our land, animals and other natural resources.
Through this project, adults learned alongside the children and the results were astounding. Not only did we raise enough to purchase 14 heifers ($7,000), but we also had a surprising turn-out to each event. Especially Vacation Bible School, where we were planning for 30, over 90 attended the dairy farm tour! People are hungry (pun intended) to learn about agriculture on a Christian/moral level.
There are two main reasons why I feel Christians in agriculture are obligated to share the truths of why and how we farm/ranch within the context of faith:
- Those whom oppose modern agriculture already have a presence in Christian circles. For example, The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has strategically begun a “Faith Outreach” program.My own church is struggling with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America’s (ELCA’s) draft social statement on “genetics” that discusses the use of genetics in agriculture. I could list many more examples, amongst all the major denominations.
- If we are faithful farmers and ranchers, following the command from the Lord to feed His people, then I believe He expects that we honor Him by sharing our testimonies on stewardship. We also owe it to our fellow Christians who are not farmers/ranchers. They are three to four generations removed from witnessing God’s miracles of growth and life in agriculture.
It is relevant, appropriate, and necessary that we in agriculture speak in terms of our faith about what we do. Our consumers and our fellow Christians are demanding it.
In memory of Yvonne Hanzal, rancher’s daughter and beloved “Team Heifer” member.
~Guest Post by Sarah Bedgar Wilson, M.S.
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