I want to take you to the village of Berlin of Diriamba, Nicaragua. In a clearing in the lush tropical forest is an area of crop production – beans mostly, the staple food source for Nicaragua’s poor. Backbreaking labor of preparing the land with machete and axe, oxen plowing certain fields, threshing of mature crops with wooden poles…..it’s like being transported back to an ancient time.
In 2014 La Semilla Ministries began working with one producer, Juan Manuel in his production of 1.5 acres of beans. His yield on average was eight sacks. Sustainable change takes time and investment but through the diligence of our agronomist for that area, over a period of 3 years Juan’s yields grew to an average twenty-eight sacks from that same 1.5 acres. Juan was very encouraged and shared his successes. He shared with his family by making improvements to their home. He joined the village church and helped put a roof on their modest structure. He encouraged his neighbors to get involved with La Semilla and implement new agricultural technologies. He hosted bible studies in his home. Now in 2023, everyone of the eighteen farmers in the community of Berlin are active participants in La Semilla agriculture programs. Juan himself has expanded is now growing seven acres of mixed crops for a diversified, stable income.
My wife Leslee and I have been working as EFCC missionaries in Nicaragua since 2010, leading La Semilla Ministries which focuses on integrated agriculture development. Wow, that’s a mouthful, right?! Sounds technical, difficult. Well yes, it’s both of those things, but also a bit logical and practical. Here is our ministry vision in a nutshell: Attending to the practical financial needs of rural Nicaraguan families, we use a technical agriculture program (led and taught by our Nicaraguan agronomist team) of quality seed, proper nutrition, and crop care products to help increase yields and family incomes. Each of our five agronomists have about eighty producers to attend to and form a bond, a relationship with. As much as each agronomist teaches about agriculture, they teach as clearly about faith – how we can apply Biblical principles to everyday life and situations. This relationship is used to encourage attendance at workshops, bible studies and seminars led by our two pastoral couples on staff to lead each farmer and their family into faith in God through Jesus, or to grow in their faith.
La Semilla Ministries is encouraging spiritual growth through practical interactions leading farmers and their families to local churches local churches get involved with La Semilla to reach more of their communities through targeted ag-related evangelism strategies.
So, can agriculture development lead to poverty alleviation? YES! God has a plan and purpose for each of our lives! Poverty exists as material but there is also poverty of relationships, of faith in God, of low self-esteem. Our development strategies touch on each of these issues. God is using our team to grow His Kingdom! God is using our team to share the Love of Jesus in practical ways!
In Berlin of Diriamba we’ve made a difference! Ag production has increased. Incomes have improved and stabilized. Young people see a future in agriculture. We’ve hosted numerous workshops and Bible studies, where many farmers and their families are engaged for their spiritual growth. Imagine: Juan, Alicia, Jose, Leonardo, Isabela, Melvis, Abraham, Carolina…….and hundreds more farmers experiencing the love and grace of Jesus through expanded crop production! Amazing God, how you draw people to yourself!
Rob & Leslee Oudman
ServeBeyond Mission Associates in Nicaragua