I grew up around farming in South Texas. My dad was a farmer, my uncles were farmers, and my grandfather was a farmer. If I wasn’t working on my dad’s farm, I was working on someone else’s. I grew up in a house that worried about drought, late frost, hail storms, bad crop prices, insect pest infestations, and bankers. And sadly, if things were good for farmers in our area, if often came at the expense of farmers in other regions, dealing with some or all of the things we worried about.
During mission co-worker orientation, Melissa and I were paid a visit by Reverend Paul McGlassen, Bob Tomey and Jim Exline, from First Presbyterian Church of Sullivan, Indiana. Their church began supporting Chasefu Model Farm in Zambia in the fall of 2014, just about the same time Melissa and I traveled to Louisville for our discernment interview, and they wanted to meet the new mission co-workers to Zambia, who would be working there. During their visit with us, they invited us to come to Sullivan and share about our work in Zambia.
This past weekend, we made that trip to Sullivan, a town not unlike Pearsall, where I was raised. First Presbyterian is not a big church; one of the members told us, “We’re small, but mighty!” No one had to convince us, we could see it and feel it. From the time we arrived on Friday, until we left for the airport in Indianapolis on Monday morning, we were shown nothing but hospitality and kindness. We participated in the life of the church and we made new friends.
During our stay, our host, Bob, and I met a group of men (farmers) for breakfast at a local coffee shop. We toured the small Indiana town of Merom, which has a rich history. We climbed to the top of the Merom Conference Center, which was once Union Christian College, where we had a beautiful view, and I held on for dear life. We spoke during worship on Sunday morning and then later that day, we went to the church’s annual Christmas dinner, followed by the hanging of the greens. I felt like the Abominable Snowman, as kid after kid asked me to hang their ornaments up on the sanctuary Christmas tree, higher than they could reach. We were made to feel welcome and a part of their church.
As I reflect on our weekend in Sullivan, my opinion that farmers are kindred spirits was reinforced. Whether in Sullivan, Indiana, Pearsall, Texas, or Chasefu, Zambia, farmers know what it’s like to experience the issues I mentioned above. In talking with my new friends in Sullivan, I believe that’s what first drew them to their decision to support Chasefu Model Farm, and as we recently learned, to provide support for our mission work in Zambia. We are so thankful for that special connection we have now made with them.
Melissa and I are on our way back to San Antonio, where we will spend the coming week making more visits, telling others about our work, before heading off to Atlanta next week. Please keep us in your prayers as we continue to share how God is at work in Zambia.
May the peace of Christ be with you.
Charles & Melissa