Restoring The Ancient Paths To Dwell In – Isaiah
Our fathers used traditional methods of farming and medicine, which involved biodiversity, which led us to good relationships with neighbours who contribute different resources to farming, and also gave us more nutritious foods and health.
In recent decades monopolistic cultures have taken over our landscapes. From the nineteenth-century rise in the oil monopolies to the twentieth-century rise in petrochemical agricultural and pharmaceutical industries, we have become used to being forced out of our traditional ways. The process of change has been draped in “philanthropy,” where the builders of new monopolies claim they are responding to environmental or health emergencies.
In agriculture we had the rise in synthetic fertilizers, insecticides and herbicides, to “cope with growing population and global disasters in food availability.” Added to these are patented GMO’s (seed or animal breeds) which centralise global food control and make farmers dependant on costly interventions. Today there is a forceful push towards industrial foods, to move us away from local farming, with processed fake-meat, and factory bio-fermented foods that cover a range of products. It is said that animal farming endangers the environment and our health, with the risk of pandemics. This is not true with traditional biodiverse farming. The technological path leads us more towards patented foods and away from local resilience: decentralised wellbeing in our communities. Industrial foods lead societies to poor health, with rising allergies, cancers and other major disease challenges.
Where this monopolistic culture hurts us the most is in our relationships. Our parents built their sustainability on an integration of natural resources, especially in animal and crop farming. This kept the soils healthy, without expensive synthetic chemicals, which kill the bacterial and fungi life in the soil. This sustained integrated social relationships, to mutually support each part of the community with their varied resources. Local rural communities and families thrived because they sustained local diversity and wealth, not dependant on imported technologies or global corporate dictates.
Moving away from this we have reaped devastating consequences. Not minding rural relationships, we farm in segregation. Biodiversity breaks down in our region, insects, and wildlife are killed, deforestation takes place as soils degrade, plagues overrun our farms as they lose natural balance. We are also no longer farming for local markets, but cash crops to be sold outside our communities. We are vulnerable to market manipulators, and the diversity of product in our own communities vanishes. Our local communities have become impoverished.
The worst outcome of this is local conflict and violence. We are led to believe that we don’t need our neighbour because we relate instead to external “solutions.” As our conditions worsen, we see our neighbour as the competition for resources, and as our enemy, instead of the solution, by developing the mutual assistance we once enjoyed. We have even employed this false vision into false gospel preaching, where false prophets prey on people’s problems, to suggest an enemy they should fight as a solution, demanding offerings for their divisive services. Fighting instead of reconciling becomes the false gospel. The Jesus war is resisting self-serving demonic division and rebuilding reconciled communities. This is our battle in Christ.
At Wurin Alheri we have the Fulani come onto our land each night with their cattle. Their cows rebuild our soils free of charge. The Fulani are protected and fed, and their properties and cattle are safe. They prefer living each night in this Christian community, though they are Muslim. Recently, some of the cows ate part of a yam farm, owned by a Christian friend nearby. It was a mistake, due to the cows being mismanaged by a young boy. This is often taken as a deliberate attack on the farming community, but in this case, our management settled the difference between the parties and peace was sustained. We even donated some of the damages ourselves. But the cost to us of this reconciling service is far less than the cost of farming without these cows. Rebuilding these relationships is the most profitable activity we can be part of, and it’s worth whatever we pay.
Further, when these relationships are active, how possible is it for outside manipulators to influence our local peace? Can false prophets extract money from us to divide us, or can politicians look for their advantage by separating us? Can violent extremists come in from outside regions and use our local divisions to involve us in their plots? The risk of this is far less because we are now focused on the right battle: rebuilding and not destroying. We refuse partnerships to destroy because we know the wealth we gain from new community. Hope becomes our strategy, not fear. We don’t take bribes from monopolists to enter our markets, because we know the importance of local economy. We know the value of what we have locally, so we say no to those who would want to break it up.
This is how our parents lived, knowing it was much more valuable to feed Fulani cattle herders at night, to protect the Fulani interests, to understand their loss and pains as well as our own, to take some loss in damaged crops from time to time, to repair misunderstandings and even wrongdoing, with conflict management, forgiveness and steps to reconciliation. These ancient paths need to be rebuilt by us, God’s ministers.
When you take the gospel to your communities, take the gospel of reconciliation, not the gospel of division and destruction of your enemies. We need our enemies; this is why Jesus told us to love them. A monopolistic culture destroys us all. You will not be liked for doing what Jesus did. Many people prosper from division, especially in our churches, and they will accuse you. But Jesus came to give himself as a bridge between Jew, Gentile and Samaritan. The gospel is good news. It is not news of destruction, but of reconciling, and building the relationships that repair and bless our communities. Take the gospel of reconciliation to your homes and churches and share it with your enemies, telling them that this gospel comes from the Father who reconciled us to himself and didn’t destroy us.
Be humble and yet be courageous. “I send you out as sheep among wolves. You shall tread upon scorpions and serpents and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Heal the sick, say the kingdom of God is among you.” The disciples went out, not taking with them the provisions they needed, and even though not all people received their message, God still met all their needs and they lacked nothing. So don’t rely on mankind for your message and pay but do and teach the will of God and he will meet all your needs according to all that he has. You will return again with full provision, after casting out the worst demons: hatred, unforgiveness, love of self instead of love for neighbour: the things satan uses to divide and destroy us.
Have the courage to preach the true good news, of reconciliation and not the destruction of others we blame. Instead of blaming others, learn how to rebuild the relationships that rebuild our lives. The gospel is about our lifestyle, learning to live differently, to God’s glory. This is worship. This June/ July 2021 Practical, go and preach the gospel, the good news of new lives and new communities, according to the wisdom that Jesus gives us.