In the town of Lambata, Nigeria, 10 farmers from the Gbari language group recently spent three days learning how to apply biblical truths to their farming techniques.
“When I came here five years ago,” says Wycliffe’s Katharine Norton, “I saw that . . . people were farming in ways that harmed the soil and the environment, and the food and animal products were increasingly filled with chemicals and antibiotics.”
Aided by local colleague Yunana Malgwi, Norton organized the workshop around 16 teaching sessions ranging from biblical foundations (farming in the Bible, audio Bible studies) to practical subjects like how to make compost and how to grow a dry-season vegetable garden.
Other topics include how to resolve conflict and how the church can support farmers year round.
Although many language groups in Nigeria do have the Bible in their language, many believers still struggle to engage fully with the Scriptures.
Besides helping participants reflect on how the Bible speaks into their lives in practical ways, the workshop is helping to elevate the status of farming, which is sometimes viewed by the Gbari as a low-level occupation.
One participant was encouraged to learn that Adam worked the land in the Garden of Eden.
“This was so encouraging to me, as my people think that farming is a curse as a result of the fall. I now realize that farming is a blessing and that I can serve God as I farm.”
Norton hopes the workshop will be the start of something bigger.
“We want participants to take what they have learned and apply it to their own farms . . . and teach and encourage others in their language community and churches. This way, what starts from one workshop can have a much wider impact.”