A Brief History of Farmer-to-Farmer
As a native Liberian, my childhood dream was to grow up and make a contribution to the development of Liberia. After I retired from American General Insurance Company, a Fortune 500 Company, I began making plans to do just that. I spent a year creating a Business Plan to sell Insurance in Liberia. And a portion of our investment portfolio was going to be used to empower Liberians. Example: Trade Skills Development; Schools; Clinics; and Agriculture. After the Plan was completed, I realized that Liberian Law had changed, and it now required a boatload of dollars to implement my Insurance plan.
Well, I didn’t have the money but yet determined; I relied on my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ in Isaiah 40:31, “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary, and they shall walk, and not faint.” I resigned myself to wait on the Lord. I had done everything I could do: prayerfully, planning, educationally, and financially. I would do nothing but wait!
Then I met Pastor Ray for the very first time in a “New Church Start Training Class,” sponsored by East Ohio Conference. I was late that morning, but Pastor Ray was seated in the chair next to mine. And when the moderator divided us into smaller groups to explore our passion for ministry, Ray was in my group. When it came time for me to state my passion, I began with my boyhood dream and that I had a plan to have farmers in Ohio donate refurbished old tractors to farmers in Liberia; and if you know Ray, he interrupted me and said “We can do that, I have farmers in my church who would be delighted to help you.” We talked the rest of that day, and when I got home and checked my e-mail, “Farmer-to-Farmer” was born and the East Ohio Journal said that our coming together that day, was a “Divine Intervention,” and I say AMEN!
We have many projects going that benefit the people of Harrisburg. We formed a partnership with the St. John United Methodist Church that was badly damaged by the 14-year brutal civil war. And with funds from our first fundraiser at Westlake UMC where Rev. John Butchko, pastor; and Bishop John Hopkins was our guest speaker. And with additional funds from 3Cs, we renovated St. John UMC in Harrisburg, Liberia: new roof, ceiling, windows, doors, and chairs donated by Solon UMC, pews donated and installed by Bucyrus UMC. Also, Farmer-to-Farmer has been blessed with gifts from many partners in East Ohio: treadle sewing machines that enabled us to start Dr. Linda Crowell & Rev. Cathy Ake Women Empowerment Center, where local women and teenagers learn sewing skills. Also, the St. John Pre-K school near the church was started because over 75 children in the church, were too small to walk the distance to the local school so, they stayed home; the elders of Harrisburg gave Farmer-to-Farmer 37.5 acres of land to build a high school because the nearest high school is 2 ½ hours walk each way daily for students; and to start an experimental farm where local farmers and farmers of the Liberia Annual Conference and others interested in farming can receive modern agricultural instructions given by UMVIM farmers from East Ohio.
We thank God, East Ohio, our dedicated Board members and partners for their time, and resources that have brought us thus far. With God’s help and blessings, “We can do all things through Christ who gives us His strength.” Philippians 4:13. We have also created “The Girls of Promise” Ministry where 30 young girls receive funds, uniforms, and supplies to attend school through High School. Without these funds, these girls would have no future! And with the proposed High School, this MIRACULOUS EXPECTATIONS CAMPAIGN to raise $100,000 by June 1st is really going to be a “God Send” for the people of the Harrisburg Community.
We have also built a guest house in the community where our GBGM Missionaries, Rev. Ray and Rev. Cathy Ake live and host our UMVIM Team workers. To God is the glory!