Farmers' goal: reaping souls
Matthew White
AFA Journal staff writer

August 2019 – “Christians always talk about how hard it is to witness. I say, ‘Come with me to a farm show, and I’ll show you how easy it is to tell people about Jesus,’” declared Jerry Rice, Oklahoma pastor, farmer, and member of Fellowship of Christian Farmers International.

FCFI has its roots in an August 1985 soybean EXPO in San Antonio, Texas. A number of farmers there were keenly aware – by their own experience – of the stress and isolation often felt by those in the agricultural community. So they discussed the need for an organized Christian fellowship.

After reading a Guideposts article on the power of prayer, Missouri farmer Steve Drake organized the first meeting. Then Thomas Herlong, a South Carolina farmer, took on the leadership role and organized FCFI. Since that first meeting of only 26 people, FCFI has spread across the country, into Canada, and even as far as New Zealand.

Serving
FCFI’s stated mission is “Serving, Sowing, Reaping for Christ around the World.” They accomplish this by serving people, sowing the message of eternal life through Christ’s sacrifice, and reaping souls for eternity.

Rice told AFA Journal, “We have three basic ministries within FCFI: farm shows, disaster relief, and mission trips. The fellowship goes on 6 to 12 mission trips per year, usually in the winter when farmers are not as busy.”

FCFI has sent volunteer teams on mission projects throughout North America, Mexico, Jamaica, Albania, Russia, Romania, East Africa, and India. Those teams use their talents and resources on projects such as church construction, well drilling, and irrigation system installation, as well as distributing farm and garden seeds or gospel tracts.

“Our disaster relief is small scale,” Rice said. “We go in behind wildfires, hurricanes, flooding, tornadoes, and things of that nature.” Duties usually consist of things like debris cleanup, corralling livestock, and rebuilding fences.

Sowing
Member Ron Miller described his experience with disaster relief missions: “It gives us the opportunity to evangelize as well as to be God’s hands and feet. We encourage those people we go to help, but we’re encouraged in our faith as well.”

“Farm shows are our biggest ministry, doing about 100 per year,” Rice said. “And depending on the size of the show, we may share the gospel with one to four thousand people over the weekend.”

The gospel is presented through FCFI’s well known “wordless walking stick.” These handmade walking sticks with a colorfully beaded lanyard catch the eye of farm show attendees.

Reaping
Attendees can keep the walking stick, as long as they allow the FCFI member to explain what the color of each bead represents: Gold represents the glories of heaven, black the sin that prevents mankind from attaining that glory on their own, red the blood Christ shed for all, white the cleansing available through Christ, and green growth in God and eternal life.

“It’s a short gospel presentation,” Rice said, “but of course, we follow up with a longer conversation if someone is interested.”

Over the years, FCFI members have presented the gospel to countless thousands of people through their wordless walking sticks. FCFI then offers Bible study courses to teach and encourage new believers in their new life in Christ.

For this fellowship of farmers, it’s all about serving others, sowing gospel seeds, and reaping a harvest
of souls.   

Resources from FCFI
Author Angus Buchan, a South African farmer, has learned the hard way to rely on God daily. His devotions share remarkable responses to the Christian message and miracles of provision and healing.

Buchan’s books, FCFI prayer guides, and other resources are available at fcfi.org. Learn more at fellowship@fcfi.org or 309-365-8710