Pig Pens, Buried Gold, and the Good News 2017-09-08
By Patrick Trail – ECHO Asia Regional Impact Center
In a recent visit to Baguio City (Luzon island – northern Philippines) I spent a few days with a local host, a man named Jonathan, one of the most caring, joyful, and evangelical men I have met. While visiting this particular farm, he told me the story of how this church came to be, and how it has become much more than just a nice building for the neighbors to look at.
Knowing that the Lord was calling him to this small village of illegal goldmines, he wasn’t sure why or what he was supposed to do there, or how to even begin to reach people. So he moved there and started raising pigs, something he knew how to do well (he is a trained agriculturalist). After he had been there a while and had successfully established a deep-litter pig production system, an old man came down from the mountain to ask him about his pigs, wanting to know why he raised pigs in this way and whether it worked or not. Jonathan told him that if he really wanted to know, he’d better go get the other men in the community to come too, because he didn’t really want to have to explain it twice. The man obliged and soon brought six men back with him.
Jonathan points to a large mango tree and tells me that right there he explained and demonstrated the principles of raising pigs in a deep litter system, of how to keep the pigs healthy and his labor lower. Jonathan tells me he then shared the Gospel right then and there with the men, under the same mango tree. The men all agreed that they wanted to know more of this Jesus, and so decided to return for more instruction.
After discipling them for a time, the men began to share their faith with their own families and friends and their number grew, to the point that they decided it was time to build their own church building. After asking Jonathan how they should pay for a building, he suggested that they should start by praying that the Lord might provide the funds. So that is exactly what they did.
Not long after that, Jonathan tells me that the same old man from the mountain was on his property and discovered gold right where he stood. Being a community of gold miners, the men not only recognized it but knew how to get to it, and so they retrieved their find and used it to build the church you see above!
One of the six men is now the pastor of the church, and in addition to a sanctuary, they have established a small orphanage and a small farm garden to support some of the needs of the widows and orphans in their vicinity. Jonathan still works with them on a regular basis discipling them, and they are growing spiritually as well as in their capacity to meet some of the physical needs around them!
Jonathan is a long time ECHO partner and shares a vision of using sound agricultural techniques to lift people up and produce abundance, and to serve as a witness of the Gospel. Many of the vegetables you see in the photo actually came from the ECHO Asia Seedbank in Thailand, and have subsequently been passed on to the surrounding community, many seeds (in many forms) are being planted in this place.
Jonathan has previously participated in ECHO Asia training events and has been a key partner in the vision and planning of the Asia Pacific Sustainable Agriculture & Development Conference in Baguio City, Philippines, in February of 2018. This same site will be one of many field site visits following the conference!