Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Exciting New Thing #2: Sustainability 4 Pastors

Many of you know that we have been working to add an aspect of sustainability to our ministry, by growing coffee on the land that we own outside of Gracias. Now, we are taking this concept to an exciting new level: this project is in the very earliest stages - we will be assisting certain carefully selected, rural pastors in starting miniature coffee farms on land which they (or their church) own!

The ability to plant and harvest a cash crop will raise these pastors and their families beyond the subsistence level of farming. This will allow them to use their profit to purchase a greater variety of food than they could grow for themselves, which increases their chance for a well balanced diet, thus staving off malnutrition and giving them increased energy, stamina, time, and funds for their primary work of evangelism and church planting! The additional income would also allow these pastors to regularly purchase such luxury items as toothpaste, shampoo, soap, deodorant, newer clothing, etc.

Here's how it will work:

First, this opportunity will only be made available to pastors who have been carefully screened, to ensure that they have ownership of the necessary land, and that they also have the knowledge, understanding and motivation to follow through with the work required for success in this endeavor.

Harvesting coffee
Once a pastor is chosen for the program, we will provide him with everything he needs to plant and care for half an acre of coffee plants, including: 1000 young coffee plants (ready to transplant), specialty equipment (like a backpack sprayer), and all the fertilizer, fungicide and pesticide needed for the first three years. The pastor will need to contribute all of the labor to plant the fields, plus we are not providing the common farming tools (like hoes and machetes) which he would already own.

The first few years of coffee farming there is little to no harvest, so there is no income, only expenses invested into the fields of young plants. Once we have helped the pastor through these first three years, his annual coffee harvest can be expected to pay for the expenses of the following year of farming, plus giving him a profit of as much as $1500.

Many of the rural pastors currently have the opportunity to make about $500 - $1000 per year, working as laborers for other coffee farmers. Growing coffee on their own land would not keep them from this work, but would empower them to harvest their own coffee for themselves, allowing them to more than double their annual income!

Harvesters sitting with coffee fields in the background

Each plant, if cared for appropriately, will produce an annual harvest of coffee beans for up to thirty years. As long as the pastors continue to use a portion of the proceeds from each harvest to care for their plants, and to replace those plants which aren't thriving each year, they basically are set to grow and harvest coffee in perpetuity! We're very excited about this project, which will allow the pastors to make a better income for their family while continuing to live in the area where they currently minister through pastoring, evangelism, and church planting!

The cost to us, to set up a pastor to grow coffee on his own land, is $500 over the course of three years. At this moment, we have two candidates chosen for the project, and we are looking for a few more - up to about five, to start with.

This is a brand new, experimental ministry project. If you're interested in being a part of this, we'd love to have your help!

You can donate using the "To Donate" button at the top of this page. Just always remember (whether donating online or by mail) to specify that the donation is for the Sowers Ministry . . . and if you'd like to donate to a specific project (such as this one - Sustainability 4 Pastors), notate that information, as well. If you fail to follow these instructions, the bookkeeper will NOT KNOW to put the money into our account.

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