by Shanna Duke
International 'Field Trip'
As D’Sozo NSW was finishing in the early hours of January 22nd, Eastward’s Agriculture Director, Rod Bailey, was winging his way the almost 15,000 kilometres from Sydney to High Springs (Florida, USA) for the 2017 Adventist Agricultural Conference.
This conference, facilitated by the Adventist Agricultural Association (AdAgrA), is the yearly culmination of efforts to encourage and support everyone desiring to follow God’s counsel of an agrarian lifestyle. Rod was generously sponsored to attend the conference not only to gain information and encouragement for Eastward's agricultural efforts, but to make connections to enable a similar work in Australia. 750 participants (individuals, families, and school & church representatives) experienced a four-day conference packed with blessings.
There were inspiring meetings that focussed on the all important “Why we do agriculture”. A stunningly wide choice of workshops and classes suited to both beginners and experienced agriculturalists. Discussion and demonstration of scientific and proven methods by experienced practitioners. The practical linking of home, garden and ministry. Compelling and readily available resources provided and explained. Stimulating conversations over really good food which lead to lifetime connections and friendships. Wednesday's Pre-Conference session on 'Market Gardening' with John and Pam Dysinger was especially pertinent to Rod, who heads up Eastward’s growing market garden industry. Every moment was rich.
During Friday evening’s ministry spotlight time, Rod was give a few moments to share a little of Eastward’s agricultural story and vision. Part of this time he used to show a short snippet of the newly released Eastward Music Camp video "Always Cheerful". The youth singing in the Eastward garden was appreciated greatly by the agriculturally minded audience. There were at least three people who told us they had tears in their eyes, and 40+ people approached Rod afterward to say how much they were blessed by it, many remarking that it was the most touching music video they have ever seen. And at least two individuals went way with the seed planted to think about their own USA Music Camp! So by God’s grace we are doing something right at Music Camp, and this ministry is touching people all around the world, and even inspiring them to go and do likewise! Please keep praying for Music Camp, not just Music Camp 2017 coming up in July, but the expansion, growth and direction of Music Camp. God has big plans for this ministry and we are excited to find out what they are.
After the AdAgrA Conference, the John and Edwin Dysinger families of Bountiful Blessings Farm in Tennessee kindly opened their homes and farm. During the three days there, Rod was able to experience a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) pick and delivery, gain a deeper insight into the methods and philosophy behind the Adventist market garden, discuss the agricultural internship program which thrives at Bountiful Blessings Farm, be inspired by Jonathan’s tool development and manufacture, and film a short testimony for Paul’s Born to Grow Gardening University.
On the flight home, the baggage allowance was well and truly stretched as Rod returned with tools, books and many ideas and plans. But most encouragingly, many of the AdAgrA leaders and organisers have expressed interest and willingness to support the establishment of an Australian chapter of AdAgrA, and to support a similar conference here with both their experience and presence. Please pray as these plans are matured and acted.