13 May 2009

Farming - a mission field

This year Sam Abuku will turn fifty. He can look back on over twenty-five years in full time ministry in Uganda, but knows that he must prepare carefully for his future. There are few grandparents in YWAM Africa, and Sam reflects on the reason - as people enter their forties the rising costs of children’s educations, weddings, and fears for the future forces many to leave the mission at this stage. “If we are to do all that God has put in our hearts we need to think and prepare. I have two hands and a head, I have to creatively think about how to sustain my family in the future, or I could become bitter at the Church if my support dries up. This is the biggest challenge facing us in YWAM Africa.”

Sam and his wife Agnes pastored churches in Soroti for twenty years. After years of partnering with YWAMers they did a CDTS in Harpenden in 2002. Upon their return to Uganda they spent six months in Soroti, processing with their church their desire to join YWAM. The church released them to help pioneer the YWAM Arua base, and has supported them financially ever since. With their years of experience, and having raised seven children, Sam and Agnes are now a backbone to the thriving Arua base. Their heart for leadership development and family ministries is seen in all that they do and teach.

The Abuku family have talked openly about the challenges of living long term in YWAM. Together they have come up with a family plan to build security for their future and influence other families. The financial support from the Soroti church covers the Abuku’s staff fees and children’s schooling. Any extra gifts have been used to slowly build the family home in Soroti town. “We have never been in a position to save money, but have chosen instead to invest in land and houses.” Now that the town house is nearing completion it can be rented out. The finances from this will start to fund the real family vision, which lies 40km out of town in the village.

Here Sam has bought over 60 acres of fertile land, and begun to build the family farm. They are calling it ‘Mairomu Kaga’ (Christ family concern programme). Five acres of maize have recently been planted, and this year they hope to plant three acres of pineapples, an acre of orange trees, and develop some beehives. In the town house the Abukus will stockpile maize bought in the village, later in the year when prices have risen they plan to sell at a profit to the UN. If all goes to plan several huts will be completed on the land to house workers.

Whilst Sam and Agnes continue to live and minister in Arua, their eldest sons, who have diplomas in Development Studies and Business Administration, will work at establishing the family farm. In the future they dream of poultry, a large fruit orchard, and a family home. The farm should provide a secure income for the family, a solid investment for the future, and be a model for how the extended family can live and work. Sam and Agnes have already run Holy Trinity Brompton’s ‘Marriage Course’ in Arua, and plan to use it on the farm. They envision the farm as a place where families and couples can stay, be discipled in marriage and family life, and learn about sustainable development within the rural African context. Outreach teams from Community Development schools could teach and invest in the lives of local leaders and rural farmers.

This holistic vision for the extended family to disciple other families within the home environment has come after years of discussion and prayer within the Abuku family. With hard work and God’s favour it has the potential to provide a YWAM family with long tern financial security, and be a rich source of blessing to others. Sam and Agnes will also have modeled how to wisely and intentionally grow into grandparents within YWAM Africa.

By Tim Heathcote

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