Reflections on Redemptive Agriculture:
Abundance in Diversity
Written by Christina Miller on February 27, 2014 in Redemptive Agriculture
In Tanzania, pastors from Plant With Purpose partnering churches are trained to teach a series of seminars call “Redemptive Agriculture.” These seminars take a Biblical look at agriculture. The San Diego office has recently been going through the study and are posting reflections on the blog. Read “The Earth and All It Contains” here.
Last month I went on a retreat with my church to Big Bear, a small mountain community just east of Los Angeles. We collected our sweaters and jackets, packed our cars full, and drove out of the familiar streets of our neighborhoods. Eventually the freeways turned into winding mountain roads and we emerged at our cabin, out of breath from the high altitude air and hungry for a meal.
Over the weekend Robyn cooked all of our food. She selected dishes from India, the Philippines, and the southern U.S. She included spices that released warm, intriguing smells and used colorful combinations of ingredients. All four of our pastors led sessions. When Will spoke I felt stimulated by his intellectual ability. Charlie shared from his rich inner practices of stillness. Zach inspired me with his daily rhythms of faithfulness and discipline. And Danae excited me with her creativity and heartfelt insight. One afternoon a group of us piled on a bed and shared our life stories. While some carried similar themes, no two were the same. They each created a rich tapestry of histories, choices, and God’s intervention.
As I spent the weekend with members of my church, I realized how much other people’s lives nourish my own. They give me tangible ways of encountering God that sustain me. Sharing meals, letting our stories rub up against one another, and inviting others into the unique ways God meets us creates an abundance of life.
The farmers of El Café, Dominican Republic know what it means to have abundance through diversity. After years of relying solely on oregano crops, their livelihoods were threatened due to deforestation that stripped the soil of valuable nutrients. Rather than continuing the cycle of cutting down trees to make room for oregano, they started to plant a variety of crops. Now their farms have expanded to include seedlings and fruit trees. Adding diversity replenished the soil rather than stripping it, healing the land in ways that will enrich it for future generations.
In the next “Redemptive Agriculture” study, we are challenged to see how diversity creates abundance. While our inclination may be to focus on one kind of plant or crop, bringing in myriad of species actually fosters more nutrients and allows them to sustain one another.
This requires trust that as we widen our scope God will provide. Genesis 8:20 says, “As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.” God has put structures in place that support us, and allow new life to form as we expand our own limits and understanding.
The same is true in all areas of our lives. As we open ourselves to other people, expanding our focus beyond our individual needs, we receive the gifts that nourish and sustain us. Our lives are enriched and supported. The question changes from what we can take, to what we can contribute. We begin to see ourselves as interconnected parts of a complete whole: strands of a great tapestry that is stronger when knit together.