Asian farmer's coffee crop brings nurture to his faith

Baptist Press
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Posted: Feb 27, 2012 5:52 PM
Asian farmer's coffee crop brings nurture to his faith
EAST ASIA (BP) -- Far off the beaten path in the mountains of an East Asian nation, believers in a house church find God's faithfulness in budding coffee crops and healthy animals.

Zhe Wang Hu* is one of these believers, praying for his coffee crops when the church gathers to worship after a long day in the fields.

At home over their wooden dinner table, Hu's family talks about the weather, not as light conversation but because their well-being depends on it. Despite the recent absence of rain, the 20-something farmer trusts that God will provide for his wife and son.

"I have witnessed God's harmonious way pouring down the rains when the plants need the rains," Hu says. "It shows His grace."

Hu started growing coffee in 2009 with the help of Christian agriculturalist Ted Wong*.

Wong, who has a Ph.D. in environmental engineering, teaches believers in rural areas how they can support themselves and their ministries. Most of the men and women he works with live in rural areas in East Asia and have few options to make a living.

Wong uses his expertise to teach the believers how to grow coffee and blueberries effectively, and he assists them in exporting the coffee to generate income.

Wong also disciples the believers so they can influence their communities.

He visits Hu frequently, providing coffee seedlings and agricultural counsel.

Before the coffee project in Hu's village started, Wong made sure Hu knew that coffee trees take longer to mature than normal crops. For three years, he would see no income. Wong told Hu he must be committed and work hard for any profit to come from the plants and that he must wait for the fields to be "ripe with the harvest."

"That takes a lot of faith," Wong says. "Commitment is the key."

When Wong and Hu meet every month, they discuss the health of the coffee and Hu's spiritual health.

Hu, the most successful farmer in the village, has 1,500 healthy coffee trees that soon will be ready for picking, processing and exporting.

"I believe God has chosen him for this program," Wong says of Hu. Other villagers have tried their hand in the coffee business with less success.

As Hu works the land that's been in his family for three generations, he sends up supplications for his crops. Although rain is scarce, he has faith that God will answer and bless his faithfulness and perseverance.

Hu also prays for the health of his animals.

"The buffaloes, the hogs that I raise, whenever there is trouble to these animals, I submit my prayers to God and ask Him to bless me," Hu says.

God answered Hu's prayer earlier that day by restoring health to the hogs of a fellow villager who hosted that evening's church meeting.

Hu also prays for focus as he follows the Lord. Hu's heart knows the land and now it knows his Father's heart, and he prays everyone in his village can find God's blessings as he has.

"Planting trees and spiritual growth actually tie together," Hu says. "... I learn how to grow spiritually by planting coffee faithfully."

In spreading the seed of God's Word in his village, he spends hours each morning nurturing his coffee plants and each evening growing in his walk with the Lord.

"Coffee is a kind of seed," Hu says. "Spiritually, God's Word is like a seed."

*Names changed. Caroline Anderson writes for the International Mission Board.

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