The Man Who Stopped the Desert. Wonder–God Is Working In People You Might Not Expect
The last blog was about our work in Laos, where we work with people who live with rain forests that are under threat because of land clearing because the price of corn is so high. (Partly because of so much corn is being used to produce ethanol.) This blog relates to a very different environment, the dry Sahel of Africa, where famines have ravaged and one might think that there is no hope at all of restoring the beauty of the earth and its productivity.
Ouahigouya? That’s a place in Burkina Faso. I’ve only been to Burkina Faso once, that was to visit my son Josh when he was a Peace Corps teacher there. But, just looking at the movie trailer for “The Man Who Stopped The Desert”, about a courageous man, Yacouba, who methodically works at restoring God’s creation, brings back memories: of the dryness, the heat and the hospitality of the people. It also brings a story of hope—this humble, God-honoring man has been diligently working: digging zai holes and adding manure to them in the brick-hard ground— so that his crops can flourish; husbanding the regrowth of trees, and teaching others to do the same.
It reminds me a bit of the telling way in which the Creator of the universe decided to show his special Christ-sign star in the sky to some astrologers or magicians living in Babylon. Those were the folks we call “The Three Wise Men” of the Christmas story. The “Bible people” of that day did not even go with those magicians to see the child in Bethlehem. That story reminds me that God has a lot bigger embrace of his created human race and a lot more flexibility than some of us Bible people think.
In the Yacouba story, he’s not a scientist, nor a paid development worker—but he is proving that Creation Care and restoration of the Creation are possible in the dry place the Lord put him.
I’m glad that the organization I work with, World Renew, is working on Creation Care and on teaching people to be creation restorers. And we always look for farmer teachers like this man Yacouba, and like Mr. Mao whom I told about in a previous blog. In one of the video links I’ll share below Yacouba says: “We thank God, Creator of the heavens and the earth…. Profound knowledge and intelligence, the type that doesn’t come from school learnings is rare…” Wow, a philosopher of education! Working and learning with this kind of person is a joy in my work!
Here are a couple of video links and a Wikipedia link. The Wikipedia link explains how Yacouba uses lines of fist-sized stones to slow down the run-off rain water when the rains come and how he uses the zai holes, too. This laborious work has led to better crops and the regrowth of a low forest. He says that walking in his forest gives him peace.
Here’s the Wikipedia link:
Here’s the Video links: