Agriculture creates fertile soil for ministry growth in Tanzania

By February 18, 2009

Tanzania (MNN) — Tanzania is
asking China to bankroll its economic crisis recovery effort. Among the areas the partnership will boost is
agriculture. It's not a new idea, especially
for groups like Grace Ministries International. They're doing outreach and development work in the the Rukwa Valley.

Vinton with Grace Ministries International says, "I just got a great
report telling about the nursery and introducing all kinds of plants, fruits
and vegetables for the people…like palm trees, which they've never had. Now,
they're planting them, and in a couple of years, they'll be having palm oil. One
of the other great projects is a sunflower press."

GMI missionary Ted Rabenold has
been working in Tanzania since 2001. He
writes, "Oil is a very necessary commodity in the food chain of the people. But
the oil that they use is produced in Asia, shipped to Dar-es-Salaam,
transported by truck into the interior of Tanzania, and then carried on
bicycles into the valley. This oil is very expensive and at times hard to

So Rabenold introduced improved
varieties of sunflowers as a crop and assembled oil presses run by 24
hp diesel engines. The people plant and harvest their own sunflowers
and bring them to be pressed, providing cooking oil for themselves and extra to
sell to others. 

The first press was so successful
that an additional building was erected, a second oil press put into
service, as well as a filtration system to clarify the oil for instant home use.

What does evangelism have to do
with farming projects and sunflower presses? 
Mission work can't be done alone.

Vinton explains, "Things like that are just opening up
doors for evangelistic outreach on the lake, visiting villages, the fishing
villages and taking the Gospel to them. We're seeing some exciting things like that happening
there, tying this into their lifestyle where they are, and it's very helpful to

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