Craig Deall’s family farm was seized by the government of Zimbabwe 20 years ago without any compensation. Rather than fight or flee, Dealls’s faith compelled him to forgive – a decision that has reaped a great harvest in more ways than one. Deall was raising his family on the same farm he grew up on when in 2003, the unthinkable happened. “The government forced Deall, his wife, and children to leave their home and farm that had been in his family since 1948 as part of the government’s land reform program. An effort to more equitably distribute land between black subsistence farmers and white Zimbabweans of European ancestry. He had three choices. “We could fight, flee, or forgive. Some of my friends fought for their land and ended up getting killed for it,” Deall said. “Most of my friends left the country, and no answer is wrong. But we as a family decided to pursue the third option which was to forgive.”
“We felt that if we chose bitterness instead of forgiveness, there’s no country far enough away where it doesn’t smell” Deall said. Deall kept going back to one scripture. “That scripture where Jesus says, ‘If a man steals your coat, give him your tunic as well.’ (Matthew 5:40) For us, that meant, if a man steals your farm, teach him how to farm. And that’s what we did. And with that, the pressure lifted, and we knew that God had opened up an avenue for us to serve the least of these and to bring them the Gospel,” he recalled. Deall moved his family to Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe, while about a dozen other families took over his house and land. He then joined a group called Foundations for Farming. There, he began to teach the new owners, a unique way of farming that God revealed to the group’s founder, Brian Oldreive.
“He went into virgin bush, sat there and asked God, ‘Teach me how to farm’, and the two things that he saw was that there is no inversion tillage in nature, and that there is this beautiful mulch cover that covers the forest floor, and that’s actually God’s mechanism for feeding the soil and protecting the soil,” Deall explained. “So he went back to his farm and he tried it. Without any tillage and no burning, which is contrary to the conventional way of farming, he immediately got outstanding results like 10-time increment in yield,” he continued. “And so, he knew that it worked and he started to grow it bigger and bigger but he knew that God had given him this revelation, not for himself but to extrapolate across the continent of Africa to the rural farmers, the hurting, and the poor around the continent.” The success of the technique caught the attention of the Zimbabwe government which endorsed the method.
And in 2020, the country experienced its first food surplus in two decades. “In fact, food production jumped almost four times, in the year 2020,” Deall said. The country’s main crop, corn, tripled with the method and now Foundations for Farming teaches the technique all over the world with the main goal of sharing the Gospel. “But 80% of what we teach is the heart. It’s using agriculture as an entry point for the gospel,” Deall said. Even with all their success, the Zimbabwean government never offered Deall any compensation for his home, land, or time teaching, but he says the way God has provided, he wouldn’t change a thing. “We have a saying in Foundations of Farming: ‘I used to own a farm in Africa, now Africa is my farm,'” he said. For more information on Foundations for Farming, visit www.foundationsforfarming.org
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