Growing People

A deaf student in Zimbabwe
4-year-old Edward, a deaf student, standing in front of his community’s chicken project

Growing People

Jerry’s 2nd trip blog from Zimbabwe

Dear Family,

At our FGW summit meeting in Malawi in 2018, Joseph and Oni shared with me how they had been reaching out to one of the most underserved and undervalued people groups in Zimbabwe, the deaf community. They invested 8 weeks in learning sign language so they could communicate with this vulnerable population and train them in Farming God’s Way. I was eager to learn more.

On my second full day in Zimbabwe, we traveled to Hauna to visit a school that has a department for deaf children. I am used to being unable to communicate directly with farmers who don’t speak English, but this time it was kids age 4 to 18 who only knew sign language. After I quickly learned and communicated “Hello. How are you?” their smiles and laughter let me know they were happy to see us.

First, they took me to see their chicken project. This is an extension of Joseph’s chicken project that some generous Heaven’s Family donors helped to bolster earlier this year. This project is paying dividends by giving people food from the eggs they produce and the chickens themselves. It is also teaching these children and their families how to rear chickens so they can break the dependency cycle.

Class for the deaf in Zimbabwe
Hauna’s class for the deaf standing in front of their chicken coop. Also pictured: Oni (far left), their teacher Nelson (in tie next to Oni), and Joseph (kneeling at right).

Next, we saw the gardens the children had prepared for planting without the help of their teacher, Nelson. They had dug their planting stations and had God’s blanket ready for the first rain. These children are implementing FGW not only at school but also at their homes. Due to the Covid shutdown, Joseph, Oni, and Nelson have made house visits and worked with their families to set up nutritional gardens and chicken rearing. Many of the children said they like the farming work. When I asked if managing a garden at home made a difference in their families, they nodded yes and many gave the sign for unity. Click here to watch the video.

It is difficult for me to imagine what it would be like to have a child I couldn’t communicate with because they can’t understand me. Even more difficult is to imagine the children’s frustration, as they are virtually unable to communicate before learning sign language. This frustration often breeds anger. Seeing this anger and wanting to help caused Joseph and Oni to become involved in teaching FGW to these children. Now the children have a connection point to bring their families closer together. By learning sign, our brothers stepped into the world of these young people and helped to show them God’s love in a tangible way.

Nelson and his wife are implementing FGW on a big piece of land and are planning to use it as a training site for the young adults in their community who are deaf. These people have a real heart for the deaf and their families. Joseph and Oni are working closely with them to disciple them and provide the teaching resources they need to continue to advance FGW and the Kingdom of God where they live.

Our last stop was at Joseph’s church building in the poor farming community where he pastors, about 20 minutes outside Mutare. We picked up his wife, Agitha, who teaches a pre-school class for the local villagers. I had the chance to meet the kids, and they made a card for Dick Samuels and I. This pre-school has brought many more families into Joseph’s church, because the children desire to be around their teacher. Joseph’s church has become more than just a place to meet on Sunday; it is a group of Christ-followers who add value to their community by helping the “least of these.”

Picture of children at school
Agitha and I with the children from the school

All the impact I saw God enabling Heaven’s Family to have through our FGW trainers on the first two days was great. But days 3 and 4 opened my eyes to how valuable these two brothers are in advancing the kingdom and making disciples in Zimbabwe. Stay tuned for my final trip report, “Growing Kingdom,” coming soon.

Thank you for your investments in Heaven’s Family’s Farming God’s Way Ministry!

Grace and peace,

Jerry Jefferson
Director, Farming God’s Way Ministry

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