Do farmers make good missionaries? Honestly, I don’t know if they do. But I do know a few things I learned on the farm that have really helped me, and they aren’t necessarily the agricultural stuff.
Farmers are optimists. Each year you have to invest thousands of dollars in a crop that may not make it to harvest. You learn to take the good with the bad, and always keep one eye on next year. You learn to fight, and innovate, and do whatever you must to bring in the harvest. You never give up. I guess that’s why I like the fact that we have our rice farm in Cambodia. It helps me focus on the bigger picture of the kingdom of God.
Jesus used a lot of agricultural illustrations in His teachings and I don’t think it was just because a lot of the people were farmers, it was because these principals work in every walk of life. In farming you can sometimes go through two or three poor crops to get to that bumper yield. Missions can be like that, but if you persist against the weeds, weather, insects, diseases, and do your utmost to get things on time, and done right, it will eventually pay off with the big crop. That’s what we (farmers and missionaries) live for.
We’ve had some crop failures, and I believe you understand I’m not just talking about rice, but we have also had some “Bin busting harvests.” To bring this back to earth, Western Cambodia went through a severe drought this spring and early summer. Our first crop of rice, which we harvested in July, is the only rice crop I have ever raised that never once grew in standing water. We fought the weeds, and the kids prayed. We brought in nearly four tons per hectare, which is well above the national average for a good year. We are grateful! The rains have started, and we’re planting the second crop in mud. We believe it will be great! Optimistic, just like all good farmers.