Proverbs 22:3 says "A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself: but the simple pass on and are punished". My Blog today: Why city churches need to seriously look to investing in a farm community.  There are some good reasons for this.

In my previous blogs I have been stressing the coming exodus of the church out of the world Babylon system, not in the Rapture but into a way of life that shows the world this is who we are and this is how we live. Let me plant a seed with you on a very practical strategy to get this vision from dream to reality.

I am part of a group working with our Western Cape provincial government on what we call "Green Cape" or how we can create an environmentally safe, renewable and sustainable economy for our province.  Several weeks ago we had a conference in Cape Town with all the various role players putting in ideas for renewable strategies. My field of expertise is in renewable fuels and chemicals and I presented ideas for a bio-refinery at the Port of Saldanha and the need to move from a "hydrocarbon economy" (oil, coal) to a renewable "carbohydrate economy" (getting our fuels and chemicals from renewable biomass).

One of the great presentations we had was from the Swedish truck and bus group Scania who gave us a presentation on their new technology diesel engines that run on plain ethanol and that they will be providing 66 new buses to Cape Town that will run on just ethanol.  I asked the Swedish presenter if these new tech bus engines can be scaled for use in small trucks, cars and tractors? He said yes, quite easily.  Which of course immediately raised the interesting possibility that in future we can be totally free of imported oil if we make ethanol ourselves on farms. Which is what I did several years ago, building what I called a "farm scale" ethanol plant that can produce 1 million litres of ethanol per year from various biomass materials and easily operated with minimal training.

Now let me put Proverbs 22:3, the Church mission and the current world situation in perspective for a new ministry strategy:

- The oil fields of the world are declining in output by 5% a year and to replace that oil production requires costly investment in deep water drilling and fracking of shale oil. The days of cheap abundant oil are over. It is getting more costly and more difficult every year to extract oil. We are 10-20 years away from economic disaster.
- The biotechnology revolution of the past 10 years have allowed enormous breakthroughs in utilizing biomass materials such as grasses to be converted into fuels, chemicals and food.  Newer and better enzymes allow the breakdown of celluloses into glucose and from there fermentation into a range of chemicals.  What Sasol does with coal can now be done with biomasses. It isn't easy but it is sustainable. Oil and coal are not sustainable for either the intermediate or the long term.
- We have a massive unemployment crisis especially with our urban youth that is leading to crime, drugs and wasted lives. We need to get our young people out of this toxic environment. We need to look to practical strategies as a church that can lead to job creation, family formation and useful wealth creation for the Kingdom of God.
- There is a coming crisis on our nation's farms that is also a problem in America, Europe, China and Japan.  The average age of a farmer here is 58. The same in America and in Japan it is 65. Young people do not want to farm. On top of that it takes capital investment here in South Africa starting at R6 million just to start a viable farm and more than that if you wish to expand. Farming is now a corporate activity. Successful farms today are multi-tasking corporate operations. With expertise needed in IT, Marketing, Management, Sciences etc. You just don't go into the wilderness with your wagon and oxen and family and start a farm.
- Churches need to create real community where people share lives, work, depend on one another, care for the all needs of their members including the old and the young, the sick and the unemployed...instead of just more meetings and more talking.

The Bible warns us to look ahead of us to foresee evil and trouble before it comes...and then plan for it. That is part of what it means to be a "Pastor" or a "Shepherd" of God's flock.  We have been very concentrated as Christian leaders to feed God's sheep, but the other part of our duty is to protect them from dangers and lead them to new pastures.

So here it is: I am warning you of the dangers ahead. The world economy is in terrible danger ahead. The social cohesion of nations is fraying. We can no longer depend on national and local authorities to provide jobs, protection, justice, education and all the other things that make civilized life possible.  God's leaders of the church need to look ahead by 10 years at least and see the very real dangers ahead.

The solution I am suggesting is this:
- Urban city churches need to seriously look at investing into farms before they look to investing into new church buildings.
- A church farm in a rural area that is accessible to the church members is wonderful place where a lot of serious ministry can take place.
- Young people without work can be sent to the farm to start working immediately on productive activities and learn real skills. This also gets them out of the bad environment of old friends and habits that lead them astray.
- Government has made a lot of money available to farming and rural development. In addition they have provided legal structures called "co-operatives" that encourage groups of people to band together to tackle community projects.
- When people work together it creates community. If people invest time and energy to the community farm project they will trend to stay committed to that church fellowship.  One of our biggest problems in church these days is the lack of commitment to the local church by people. Pastors then get tempted to attract and keep people through entertainment. I believe if people have invested their time and effort into a farm project, they will stay committed to the local church.  Out of work young people can be employed not only on the farm projects but also using their labour to build housing and structures on the farm.
- The farm project can be a great place for long term rehabilitation of those who are addicted to drugs, drink and other problem areas that require long term discipleship.
- We have a retirement crisis in the world. The demographic profile of all nations show a greater proportion of people old people each year. I went through this with my own parents. At first I could provide them a place where they could live and care for themselves. But as they advanced in age they needed more and more personal care. In the end they needed 24 hours round the clock care. I had enough financial resources that I could buy that kind of care. Most people do not have those kind of resources. Caring for the elderly is part of ministry responsibility as a church. Setting up a retirement community on the church farm is a great way to care for our elderly. It allows young people to be involved in the care of the elderly. And old folks like being around children and young people. I think this type of arrangement is far better than sending them off to an old age home. They need to be around members of the church community that they were apart of rather than a group of strangers.
- Having a farm community allows for the production of healthy food by the community. Our vegetables today are sprayed with pesticides and poisons. Our chickens are injected with brine and growth hormones and unhealthy cramped spaces. We can grow healthy fresh foods and protein that is nutritious and cheap while providing work and income for the church community.
- The farm community can make ethanol and biodiesel for fuel for the community cars and transport. The government allows for 1,2 million litres per year of private fuel production without incurring fuel tax penalties. The day is coming that fuel costs wll just be unaffordable for families. We need to be able to produce not only our own food but our own fuel for the church community.
- A church farm is a great place also for the church community to go to for a special weekend of camping, meetings, prayer and worship, fellowship, games, teaching. Members can also go there for special times to be alone with the Lord for intensive intercession. Others can retire to the farm and engage in special ministry of intercession for the community.
- Besides farm activities there are many other things that can be done on the church farm.  A Christian boarding school for high school students can be set up with w wonderful environment where they can also work and learn practical skills. Certain light industrial activities can also done like food processing, furniture making, crafts and many other value adding work projects can be undertaken there.

I can carry on with more reasons for a church farm operation...I will leave it at that for now.  A wise leadership of a church will look ahead and see trouble ahead. They will start making long term plans for their flock to not only teach them but also protect them from the troubles ahead.

I want to encourage you if you are church leader to prayerfully consider this for your church. There are lot of Christian ministry groups that can assist you with practical help in setting up such a church farm community. People like "Farming God's Way" and "Amos" ministries are great with farming technology.

Others that are not in a fellowship where this kind of long term planning is taking place...consider what the Holy Spirit is telling you.  A wise man sees danger ahead and makes provision for the future! The dangers that lie ahead are too big for you to handle on your need to be part of a caring Christian community that is really committed to helping one another if you are going to make it through the problems of the years ahead.

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