Being a Christian is far less about believing the right things – or even doing the rights things/living the right way, as Mennonites are often tempted to think – than simply about trusting God. To take a page from Islam, to be a follower of Christ is about submission.
Farming, said featured subjects Dave Yoder of Iowa and Jeremy Hildebrandt of Manitoba, is also about trust. It’s a risky business, but you keep going out there and doing it, hoping and believing that should it all go to pieces, someone will be there to help you pick them up.
|Farming in Manitoba|
Cut to Zimbabwe: “We pray for rain,” says farmer Ncube, whose corn crop scraggled toward the sun, coaxed by her gentle ministrations in drought-plagued Matoboland.
I think they were saying the same thing, though. Farmers are acutely aware of their dependence on forces outside themselves. The Hildebrandts cultivate gratefulness; for them, not praying for rain is an expression of their humility before God. For Ncube, prayer is her posture of humility before God.
Whether in Canada or Zimbabwe, farmers work hard, then leave the rest to God, trusting he’ll take care of them – and by extension, you and me, blissfully unaware of how precariously dependent we are upon these unrecognized, hardworking risktakers called farmers.
|Farming in Friesland|
So is there a connection between Mennonites and farming? According to scholar Royden Loewen, statistically, yes. And according to these farmers, I think yes: faith and farming are both activities that require persistent and repetitive action and deep trust.
Images courtesy Ode Productions