This fifth in a series explains a few more reasons why our lifestyle has been a dream in the making…a dream all eight of us embrace and love. Sometimes we tire of it, like when it is mercilessly hot and muggy and we’re dressing up to go somewhere “civilized,” or there is not enough room in our comfy tiny house for many guests at once. But those whiny thoughts usually don’t last long, especially when we visit town and see the alternatives. And our lifestyle is built on something that goes much deeper than preferences and interests.
Mission and Ministry
Wherever Jesus went, He relieved suffering, healed sickness, and met genuine needs. This drew many people to Him, with ears that were eager to hear. He did not go around trying to convince people, working hard to convert them, or do entertaining shows to attract them, but He compassionately served and cared for them. Many readily opened their hearts and followed Him, hungry to know Him. He did not ignore their physical and emotional needs, or tell them to think only of their eternal destiny.
Jesus’ example really challenges us. He spoke through words AND deeds. How has He called our family to meet needs that will show Jesus to others? We are still trying to fully grasp that idea, asking the Lord to clarify His calling. We are perhaps a little slow in getting this, but we have had a sense of Him calling to do what we’re doing on our off-grid homestead, not always totally understanding why. Why would He want us to spend so much time on “temporal” things like growing our own food, living more simply, and learning practical skills? What is His eternal plan for us living this off-grid lifestyle? Is it the same reason He spent so much time on earth meeting physical needs, especially of the poor?
As we sweated to clear the driveway back to our home site three years ago, doing lots of hard work by hand, we wondered if God was preparing us for something else in the unseen future. What did He really have in mind for us as we built this homestead?
We have felt a burden and desire to encourage and challenge Believers, and shine the light of Christ to unbelievers. Those are some of the main purposes for this blog, as well as to record our journey for our children’s sakes. It is an attempt to call others to examine accepted American ways of thinking, to discern what is profitable and what is not.
Our children are being prepared to serve wherever God calls them. They are not scared at the prospect of not always having hot showers or running water. And although we desire to have our children always around us, we know God may call them elsewhere. We want them to be prepared for the work God has for them, to be His witnesses. The whole point of having and raising children is to glorify God and make Him known.
Meanwhile our family’s desire is to be missionaries wherever we are. How can we meet needs and relieve suffering for the sake of making Christ known? In the US many suffer from ignorance of what commercial “fake” foods are doing to their bodies. In other countries physical suffering may be caused by poverty or other hardships. Here in America, with all our material abundance, the breakdown of the family unit causes much emotional and spiritual suffering. Families in other countries are torn apart by poverty, oppression, sickness and disease. Here and abroad there are physical and emotional needs that can be met in the Name of Jesus to bring glory to Him, although folks in our prosperous country tend to be less open.
ECHO is a Christ-honoring organization with a vision for relieving suffering by providing agricultural and appropriate technology training (using available resources) to Christian development workers in many countries. We have been very blessed by all we have learned on their global farm in Ft Myers, FL. In November we look forward to attending their International Agricultural Conference to learn more.
SIFAT (Servants in Faith and Technology) is a mission organization with a similar vision. The founder of ECHO helped them establish a training center in Alabama that prepares Believers to share Jesus through meeting basic needs around the world. We’ve been greatly challenged by the journey of the Corson family, founders of SIFAT, who moved to the jungles of Bolivia years ago, and realized the people in their village needed more than spiritual nourishment. We’ve read their experiences of sharing Christ through living simply with the people, using appropriate technologies to help alleviate suffering. Their books, Risking Everything and Glimpses of God in the Lives of the Poor, are inspirational reads for the whole family! They can be purchased here.
Intensive food forest gardening and sustainable agriculture can be powerful tools to make Christ known, here in America or elsewhere, if done by the leading of the Holy Spirit. An intact family working together, demonstrating the basic arts of growing and preserving, living abundantly within our means, practicing skills that in a crisis could bless those dependent on “the system”…all can be part of the work of Christ.
Several days ago we were dripping with sweat (yes, it was still hot here) as we all unloaded a few tons of mulch on our fodder beds. It was miserable and we were exhausted when we remembered why we were doing it: not just to nourish our own fodder beds, but to help someone else learn to grow fodder for their livestock to provide needed nutrition…and share the love of Jesus!
When we see our lifestyle in this light, it gives a much richer meaning to what we are doing. It is our prayer that our focus would be first and foremost on God’s eternal purpose for leading us into this off-grid life…that it will make a difference for eternity.
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Photo credit: A friend of ours (MW) was visiting and very kindly took many of the pictures on this post to help me out. Thanks! 🙂
Note: Credit must be given to Silver Oak for editing, critiquing, commenting on, and offering Scripture for what is written. This is his vision (shared by me), and he blesses me for taking time to write it down, freeing him to answer the many projects calling his name “out there.”
Linked w/Natural Living Mama, Barn Hop, The Art of Homemaking, Growing Home, Backyard Farming Connection, Down Home Blog Hop, Homemaking, Wildcrafting Wednesday, HomeAcre Hop, Old Fashioned Friday, From the Farm Blog Hop, Little House in the Suburbs, Farmgirl Friday, and Simple Saturdays.