A new DVD showcasing the need for and benefit of agricultural missions was produced and is being made available by the Louisiana Baptist Agricultural Missions Fellowship.
HOMER – A new DVD showcasing the need for and benefit of agricultural missions was produced and is being made available by the Louisiana Baptist Agricultural Missions Fellowship.
Music, narration and more than 200 photos tell the story of Southern Baptist agricultural missions, which started in the 1950s. That’s when the first agricultural missionaries were appointed by the SBC’s Foreign (now International) Mission Board.
“Agricultural missions is the best-kept secret of the Southern Baptist Convention,” said Nelson Philpot PhD, president of what informally is known as Louisiana Ag Missions. He’s also a retired research professor and research center administrator with the LSU Agricultural Center, and professor emeritus at LSU.
“The goal of producing the DVD was to enhance awareness about the realities of world
hunger and poverty, as well as give emphasis to simple proven solutions to those problems, whereby people are empowered to help themselves,” Philpot explained.
Ag missions in Louisiana is moving to the next level with the development of the DVD, which consists of three, 12-minute presentations that each tell a part of the story: Realities of Poverty and Hunger, Solutions to Hunger and Extreme Poverty, and Poverty and Christian Responsibility. The organization formalized in 2000 developed a logo earlier this year, as well as a brochure, bookmark and – with the assistance of John Ammons of the LBC Communications team – a home on the internet:www.lbc.org/agmissions.
The Ag Missions Fellowship is actively seeking members to add to the 44 families now in the group, plus contributions to fund ag missions, as well as people who want to participate in short-term (or longer) ag missions trips.
“You don’t have to be in agriculture to be a part of this fellowship,” Philpot said. “It’s for anyone who wants to be involved in giving people a hand up, rather than a hand out.”
The fellowship group’s mission statement, according to the website, is to promote self-help projects aimed at alleviating poverty, reducing hunger, and advancing the cause of Christ.
“The reality is that when people are hungry, Jesus Christ – the bread of life – is more palatable if served with bread made from grain,” Philpot said. “Our motto is, ‘People do not want to know how much we know until they first know how much we care.’ Our goal is to use ag missions to put a caring face on our faith in Jesus Christ.”
While there are many hunger-based needs across the globe, the Louisiana Baptist Agricultural Missions Fellowship has chosen to concentrate on working with agricultural missionaries in Oaxaca, southern Mexico, sent out by the International Mission Board.
“Most of the Zapotec Indians with whom the group works are subsistence farmers who live in isolated mountainous areas and have been marginalized by society,” Philpot said. “They are stranded in unnecessary suffering. For them to rise above their plight requires temporary assistance.
“Our challenge is to help some of them escape the misery of extreme poverty so they can get on the ladder of economic development and meet their own needs,” the Ag Missions Fellowship president continued. “Our overall goal is to implement programs that both nourish the people and build infrastructure to end their poverty through self-help programs. Our goal is to make them independent, not dependent.”
Those projects include egg incubation ($125 to provide this for a family); drip irrigation or goat: $300/family; rabbit, chicken, or quail: $200/family; heifer: $500/family; small greenhouse: $600/family. A water system for a village: $2,000.
One hundred percent of the money given for each project goes to the project; none is held back for administrative expenses.
“Our needs are minimal. For example, our quarterly newsletter is mostly sent out electronically,” Philpot said. “We’re committed to getting the money to the field where it can be used to help families and villages escape their poverty.”
To be added to the email list, contact Philpot at email@example.com.
“Experience has taught missionaries that the most effective economic development is done with people rather than for people, which gives them confidence in their own abilities,” the Ag Missions Fellowship president said. “Many of the previously poor have become rich in faith and have become a major force in propagating the gospel.”
The DVDs are available for $5/each, just enough so that people will see the value in actually watching it, Philpot said. Brochures and bookmarks also are available, as are people throughout Louisiana who would like to come and talk to your Sunday school class, Bible study group, senior fellowship, missions group, congregation or whatever about agricultural missions and how you can play a part.
Contact Philpot for more information – 318.927.2388, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or check out the website: www.lbc.org/agmissions. Gibbie McMillan, Men’s Ministry/Volunteer strategist for the missions and ministry team of the Louisiana Baptist Convention, can also answer questions.
To make a contribution, make checks payable to Louisiana Baptist Foundation, and in the subject line, write “Ag Missions Fellowship” so the check is properly allocated.
“Our main priority is getting more money to the field, so people can start getting their lives on a track that will lead them out of poverty,” Philpot said. “If we can do that, God’s kingdom will grow, and the world will be a better place for our children, grandchildren and beyond.”