Announcing the 2014 Redeeming the Dirt Conference

redeemingthedirtconferencebannerdraft

Join us for the first ever Redeeming the Dirt Conference in Rockford, Alabama, August 7-9, 2014! This summer come together with other Christian farmers, gardeners, and agrarians from around the country as we seek to learn how to better express our love for Jesus through the way we tend the land. The goal of this conference is to encourage, challenge, inspire, and equip followers of Jesus to impact our communities and nation through agriculture.

Farming was the first job given to man by God, and is essential to the existence of any nation. Today we see agriculture dominated by godless humanism and nature-worship. We are also at a pivotal point in American agriculture, with more people questioning the health and sustainability of many current farming models and looking for better ones. Right now the Church has an opportunity to take the lead and provide examples of faithful land stewardship that can create opportunities to give God glory and advance Christ’s Kingdom.

We are pleased to host as our keynote speaker Mr. Brian Oldreive of Foundations for Farming. Mr. Brian is a native white African from Zimbabwe with more than fifty years farming experience and is one of the most humble, Christ-filled men I have ever met. He is an inspiring example of what God can do through a farmer dedicated to Jesus. Foundations for Farming (the foundation being Jesus) is a discipleship based ministry that focuses on teaching the poor faithfulness with the land.  Over thirty years ago Mr. Brian dedicated his farm to the Glory of God and, as a result of giving up growing tobacco, lost everything he owned. The Lord used this humbling experience to bring him to a point where he cried out to the Lord for wisdom as he continued to be unprofitable even after taking over management of another farm. As a result of applying a few basic principles copied from what he saw in God’s design in nature Mr. Brian became the most successful farmer in Zimbabwe, winning prize after prize for his farm’s production. God then laid on his heart the need to teach what he had learned to the poor of Africa and as a result Foundations for Farming (then called Farming God’s Way) was born.  In the mid 2000′s the economy and agriculture system of Zimbabwe collapsed due in part to the land seizure of white-owned farms by the government. Mr. Brian lost everything he owned again when the farm he managed was taken over. So he began working full time on discipling the poor of Zimbabwe and Africa in farming that is based in a heart for Jesus. Meanwhile, the government of Zimbabwe sought to rebuild the country’s food system, but nothing they tried was working. Some leaders began to notice that the only people growing enough food to feed themselves with surplus to sell were those who received training in Foundations for Farming. As a result, Mr. Brian and his team were eventually asked to teach their program into the nation’s schools, agricultural colleges, police departments, prisons, and hospitals with full liberty to point to Jesus as the foundation of good agriculture. In Zimbabwe the Church is now leading the way in rebuilding the nation’s food production system on the principles of God’s Word. Our prayer is that Mr. Brian’s testimony and non-American perspective will be a refreshing challenge to the way we view our farms. Click here to hear an interview with him.

At this conference we hope to provide for and facilitate networking, encouragement, sharing of testimonies, prayer, worship, discussion groups, hands on training, and ideas for practical application. My (Noah Sanders) family’s farm is only several miles from the camp where we will be hosting the conference and we hope to be able to do some field training there during the conference. I know it is a busy time of the year for many of us farmers, but I believe that the impact God can make on our hearts, families, farms, communities, and nation as we seek His face is worth it. Since somebody often has to stay on the farm my suggestion would be to send a representative(s) from your family, church, or community who can take back the vision and share it with others. Whether you are a Christian who is a full time farmer, wanna be farmer, or backyard gardener, I pray that you can join us as we seek the Lord’s face and ask Him to use us and our farms to shine the light of Christ to a lost world.

This will not be a large conference and space is limited so don’t wait too long to register. If you are interested in attending, please contact me using the form below and I will send you more info.

Speakers:
Brian Oldreive, Founder of Foundations for Farming (formerly Farming God’s Way)
Jack Dody, Founder of Abunduculture and Christian Homesteaders
Noah Sanders, Farmer and author of Born Again Dirt

Where: Poplar Point Camp, Rockford, Alabama

Possible Topics:
-How does a Christian worldview affect agriculture?
-How can agriculture be used to build the Kingdom of Christ?
-Honoring the Design of the Creator
-Discipleship-based Agriculture
-Farming as a Family
-Getting started in farming when you don’t know what you are doing!
-Farming in light of Eternity
-Using agriculture to serve the poor.

Possible Workshops:
-Making Compost
-Putting in a basic Garden
-Sharing the Gospel in the Field.

Cost:
-Conference: $100 per individual
-Meals: $60 for nine meals
-Dorm Lodging: $45 for three nights (local hotels are also available)

More details will be posted in the coming months. We look forward to seeing you in August!

Farming in Light of Eternity

It may seem, in light of eternity and Jesus’ return, that it is a waste of time to be doing ‘earthly’ work like farming. It is easy to see the eternal significance of sharing the gospel or ministering to people’s needs. But at times it may feel pointless to work hard improving and stewarding the land when we will die and leave it behind to ultimately be destroyed by fire. We are also told to live in light of the imminent return of Christ. How can the fact that Christ could return today motivate me to work on cleaning up my garden for next season?
Here are a couple of thoughts that have helped me see the eternal significance of the farm work I do.
First, our faithfulness in this life will bring reward in the next. Jesus said, “He who was faithful with little, will be given more.” The man who was faithful with five talents was put in charge of five cities when the master returned. Even if Jesus comes in the middle of my growing season and I never get to harvest the crop I planted, it wasn’t a waste of time. Since I was found faithful with that small garden, I believe I will be put in charge of even more in the age to come. Whereas, if I give up investing in the things God had given me like my garden, then I will be found unfaithful in the little and will not be entrusted with much.
“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness.” Matt.25:21
Second, we are told to be found doing the work we were given to do when Christ returned, not having wrapped everything up and waiting around for Him. Jesus told us to keep watch because of his imminent return, not to wait. Waiting can be passive, watching is active. We must keep watch over ourselves so that we will not be found in disobedience and unfaithfulness when Christ returns. I believe Jesus will be more pleased if His return interrupts us in the middle of building a compost pile with our family then if he found us idly looking up into the sky waiting.
“Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whose master find him doing so when he returns.” Matt. 24:45,46

Pray for Your Fellow Farmers Today!

Join other born-again farmers today in praying for each other and our farms. We are all dependent upon the Lord, but as farmers it is especially evident. We need Him to bring rain in its season, cause our seeds to sprout, protect our crops from disease, bring customers for our products, keep our animals safe from predators, and give us strength to work. But what a good place to be! There is no better place to put our trust.

If you haven’t already posted your prayer request you can still do so in the comments of the previous post. But regardless you can still pray. My recommendation is that you fast one meal and take that time to pray through the comments of the previous post.

I need prayer. I need to pray more and need the prayers of others. Thank you all for participating in joining with us. What a privilege to be a part of the Family of God with all of you!

tj201110262156-1.jpg

2014 Born-Again Farm Prayer Day

On February 15th, join other born-again farmers in the Second Annual Born-Again Farm Prayer Day. On this day born-again farmers around the country and the world will join together to pray for God’s blessing on each other’s farms.
As born-again farmers we are very aware of our dependence upon God for our provision and livelihood. We can’t make seeds sprout, cause rain to fall, enable animals to conceive and give birth, or make people buy our produce. God is the only one who can grant us success. One of the primary ways we can show our dependence on God is by praying and asking for His blessing and provision upon our farms. And I believe that God listens to the prayers of His people.
“The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” James 5:16
On the farm prayer day I would encourage us to pray for each other in two areas:
1. First, I would encourage us to pray for the Lord to change our hearts and make us into more Christ-like farmers. God-glorifying agriculture starts with the born-again hearts of farmers. I know that there are many areas of my heart that still need changing if I am going to glorify the Lord on my farm.
 2. Second, let’s pray that the Lord would so bless the production and fruitfulness of our farms this year that people would marvel when they see them. Then we will be able to point to God as the source of our success, and give Him all the Glory.
Anyone interested in participating should do the following:
A. In the comments of this post, briefly describe yourself and your farm/garden/agrarian interests. Then list a few specific areas in which you would like the Lord to help you become a more Christ-like farmer. Finally, list specific ways you would like the Lord to bless the production of your land this year.
B. On February 15th, set aside at least one meal during the day to fast and use that time to go through the comments on this blog and pray for all the needs listed by your fellow Christian farmers.
I am looking forward to this! Please spread the word to anyone you think may be interested. May we be strengthened in our faith as we join together in committing our lives, our families, and our farms to God.
“Isaac planted crops in that land and the same year reaped a hundredfold, because the Lord blessed him.” Genesis 26:12

The Fight on the Farm

minuteman-farmer-1776-grangersm

“Fight the good fight of faith.” 1 Timothy 6:12

My Christian walk is not just about going about my physical and religious duties. It is about viewing every day as a series of spiritual battles I must fight for the Kingdom of Christ. Today I have many ‘everyday’ tasks to do around the farm. Though on the surface they may seem mundane, they actually have spiritually significance, and I must view even farm chores as a battleground where I have to fight for the supremacy of Jesus Christ. If I do not fight, evil prevails, for the enemy is always looking to gain ground. Lord, keep my mind alert, watchful, and stayed on Christ.

Another Olive Shoot

 
I am pleased and very grateful to announce the birth of my second-born son, Patrick Oldreive Sanders. He was born at our home on our farm yesterday morning. Much grace was extended by the Lord to my wife, Dorothy, as she labored, and she is recovering very well. Our first-born son, Enoch, couldn’t be more pleased to see his little brother at last. For months we have been telling him about ‘Baby Patrick’. Patrick ended up coming two weeks past his due date so Enoch learned to say, “Come out baby Patrick!” After seeing his little brother yesterday and getting to hold him he went around telling everyone that baby patrick had “come out!”
 
 
We are so grateful to have been blessed with another child. I value your prayers for his salvation and our faithfulness in bringing him up in the fear and instruction of the Lord. His first name, Patrick, is named after the evangelist who brought the gospel to the island of Ireland. My prayer is that God would use our Patrick to bring the gospel back to our nation and others. His second name, Oldreive, is after Mr. Brian Oldreive the founder of Foundations for Farming in Zimbabwe. My prayer is that Patrick would have the Christ-like humility and unselfishness that Mr. Brian exhibits, and that God would use him as He has used Mr. Brian to change nations from the bottom up.
 
 
Blessed are all who fear the LORD,
who walk in his ways.
You will eat the fruit of your labor;
blessings and prosperity will be yours.
Your wife will be like a fruitful vine
within your house;
your sons will be like olive shoots
around your table.
Thus is the man blessed
who fears the LORD.
Psalms 128:1-4

Profit: The Fruit of Faithfulness

 
One of the key things we must realize as Christian farmers is that the land we work belongs to God. We are His stewards, and are responsible for being faithful with what He has entrusted to us. Our success as farmers will be measured in terms of faithfulness, not just how many acres we worked or how many pounds of food we produced. When I stand before the Lord one day I desire to hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
 
So how can we display faithfulness? What does faithfulness look like? Well, the above complement for the faithful servant is found in the parable of the talents. In this story, the master entrusts each of his servants with some of his property and leaves for a time. When he comes back he praises the servants who put his property to work and made a profit, and he punishes the servant who merely preserved his property. So you could say the faithful servants were the ones who made a profit with what they were entrusted with. In the same way it could be said that if we are faithful farmers we will make a profit with the land God has entrusted to us.
 
Now, at first glance, making a profit doesn’t seem very Godly. Today if you have a ministry or are doing something to serve the Lord than you are typically a non-profit organization. We don’t like to think that we are making money off of serving others. But in reality, profit is the fruit of being a faithful steward. It is a reflection of the increase God adds when we take what He puts in our hand and do something with it. Without profit, you have poverty. Because the only other alternatives to producing more than you consume are begging and stealing, neither of which are something we are told to aspire to.
 
God is the one who adds profit. Our job is to be faithful in our management and leave the rest to Him. What are some characteristics of faithful management? Although there may be many ways of looking at it, I have personally profited from the biblical management principles taught by the ministry of Foundations for Farming in Zimbabwe, Africa. They are: 1. Do everything on time. 2. Do everything to a high standard. 3. Do everything with minimal wastage. 4. Do everything with joy. Implementing these four management principles results in faithfulness that produces profit. When I am late in my work, half-heartedly do a sloppy job, waste time and resources, and grumble and complain, then I am being unfaithful and will not make a profit.
 
Another thing I have been learning is that you cannot chase the profit, because that will often result in unfaithfulness, which produces unprofitability. I will leave you with an entry from my journal written when I got back to my farm after my trip to Africa:
       ”Wow, if it brings joy to see a farm that is managed faithfully, then it brings discouragement to see a farm that is suffering from unfaithfulness. And that is where our farm is. Weedy, trashy, junky, messy, unkempt, disorganized and more. I guess we’ve finally gotten to a place where we really need the Lord to step in and restore our farm. We need Him to change our hearts to make us faithful so we can make a profit through his multiplying what we give Him. I need to stop going out each day and trying to make money. I want our farm to be profitable so we can be a good model for other Christian farmers. But for that to happen I need to stop focusing on making money and start focusing on bringing Glory to God in every aspect of what I do through faithful, whole-hearted management. When I focus on making money I over extend myself, do a poor job (because I am trying to get a lot done), and become a work-a-holic, striving and straining to succeed. But only whole-hearted, faithful obedience that flows from a humble, unselfish heart that loves Jesus will produce a Godly profit. Because worldly profit comes at the expense of another, while Godly profit comes from God’s supernatural increase. Please give me a heart that produces faithfulness, Oh God!”