A Broad Definition of Faith

I grew up in Lancaster Co, PA. Even though lots of dairy farms have gone out of business, I’m guessing that there are still more cows in the county where I grew up than people. Both my parents grew up on a farm. When I asked my dad why neither he nor his two brothers wanted to keep the farm going, he said, “Well, for me, this is the reason. When your down under a cow at 5 a.m. and its tail full of poop hits you in the face, that’s why I didn’t want to be a farmer the rest of my life!” A pretty good reason!

So although I haven’t studied agriculture, I’ve thrown my share of hay bales and, picked my share of tomatoes and dug up my share of potatoes. Nevertheless, my time in Oaxaca was informative.

Gaspar is a pastor. Every Sunday he travels several hours to different churches in small towns all around Oaxaca. During the week he and his wife Estella visit and are visited by families and individuals seeking help, both spiritual and physical. Last year over 2000 people visited the ranch where they live, and during our time there last week, I saw at least one family visit every single day.

But Gaspar believes, as I do, that faith should not be limited to one day a week, encapsulated by a funny story, three main points and a prayer. All truth is God’s truth. Science, math, language and art are God’s as well. In the same way, a prayer is not what a hungry man needs. He needs food. Can the church effectively minister to both physical and spiritual needs? Absolutely.

Gaspar helps churches and individuals start 1 or 2 rabbit farms each month, initiating their rabbit farms with one male and two female rabbits. He only mates the rabbits one day, so he knows which day the babies will be born. He has a red worm farm, two trough-like structures with thousands of red worms that eat biodegradable garbage including paper and cardboard and produce soil, along with a liquid fertilizer that is used for the garden. He grows a certain type of tree that contains antibiotics for sick sheep and goats. Munching on a little branch helps them heal. He showed me that if a hen does not have at least a three fingers gap between her tailbone and backbone, that she will not lay eggs, and might as well be sold for meat, rather than wasting feed on her. A real layer, however, will be missing some feathers, and look less than elegant on her hind side! He questioned why not all plants grow seedlings. He showed me his elevated water tank with gravity-feeds water via thin black hoses to the roots of his tomato plants in the greenhouse.

Gaspar reminded me once again that the whole world is God’s world, and that He delights in our wise administration of it, for His glory and the advancement of His church. He once again brought me back to the humble earthiness of life, and faith.

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