You don’t need a master’s degree in mathematics to figure out that the maize of some farmers is multiplying in Malawi. Some fields that previously yielded 7 sacks of maize (what we refer to as corn) are now yielding 70 sacks—a ten-fold increase!
Tragically, due to drought and unsustainable traditional farming practices, poor farmers in southern Malawi have suffered meager harvests for decades. What little they’ve been able to grow sustains their families for only a few months. Cash crops that pay for school fees and medical care are a forgotten dream.
One of those poor Malawian farmers was Pastor Charles Mithowa, whose flock consisted of poor farmers like himself. Hunger stalked them for years—every time their insufficient harvests were consumed.
In the fall of 2012, I had the blessing of facilitating the training of Pastor Charles and some of his sheep in a radically different farming technique that promised much better results called Farming God’s Way (FGW). Traditional farming methods plow up the ground, damaging the ecosystem of essential soil microbes, and making the soil susceptible to erosion. With FGW, the ground is not tilled. And the previous year’s crop residue, as well as other organic material, is laid on the surface of the soil. It forms what we call “God’s blanket”—a protective layer of mulch that retains moisture and protects the soil from erosion. As the mulch decomposes, it becomes rich, fertile soil that nourishes growing plants.
But Farming God’s Way is much more than a superior way of growing maize and other vegetables. First and foremost, it’s a means of growing disciples of Jesus Christ—by means of digging up the root of poverty, namely sin, and planting the Word of God.
After being trained himself, Pastor Charles received a loan via our Farming God’s Way Fund, which he in turn used to offer small loans to 19 members of his flock. With those small loans, they each purchased seed and fertilizer. Then they applied what they learned, planting 20 plots of maize—but not without some skepticism. While they waited for the outcome, they also met every week to study the Bible in what we call “God’s Love Groups.” They learned how God expected them to care for one another. And as their maize grew, so did they.
A few months later, 20 Malawian farmers found themselves staring up at corn stalks that were taller than any of them had ever seen. And the ears of maize were fat and fruitful. On average, those 20 farmers harvested four times as much maize as they had the previous year! There was much rejoicing among the saints. They had crops to eat and sell.
Charles was thrilled, of course, over both the physical and spiritual harvests. So he requested a larger loan so that he could make small loans to 40 more local subsistence farmers, all of whom he would require to attend his God’s Love Group.
That group of 40 farmers has been meeting for over a year now. Pastor Charles has been teaching FGW methods, preaching the gospel, and making disciples. Those disciples have submitted to Christ’s lordship, renouncing witchcraft, ancestor worship, and other sins that have held them captive. Group members are committed to each other’s agricultural success. If one encounters trouble, like sickness, the rest rally to his support, and even take care of his fields for a time if needed.
A total of 60 Malawian farmers are now able to feed their families, send their children to school, pay for medical emergencies, and serve their poor neighbors. But this story is just getting started. Through teaching Farming God’s Way and through micro-finance, we intend to spread this miracle of multiplication—in harvests of crops and souls—throughout Africa and beyond.