Thinking about Burma-Myanmar and Courage

Jan 25, 2012

Courage. Daring to try in the face of daunting odds. Burma (Myanmar) has been an isolated country for a long time. But in Burma a courageous group of Christian people work to instill a “can-do” attitude among some of the poorest people working some of the poorest soils. Rice is their daily “bread,” and grows best in fertile, well-watered places. But many of their poorer members grow rice on worn-out hillsides where there is too much people-pressure on the land to allow the traditional rest cycle. So, the pastors and church leaders lead by example—working side by side with the people to dig planting holes and collect leaf mulch from forest patches and make compost. I can barely imagine digging 20,000 of these planting holes–but they have done it—and put compost and leaf mulch in them, too. I doubt if there is a seminary in the “over developed world” that requires its graduates to dig planting holes–but this seminary in Myanmar does.

So, next week I’m privileged to be invited to teach and learn with the seminarians of this self-reliant Christian Reformed Church of Myanmar. The theme will be agricultural development. I hope that together we can decide how their courageous agricultural work can become even more effective. I think we can tweak their composting method, and think through how to select, train and support farmer-leaders who can adapt a few good ideas to local situations. I hope we can share about grounding their vision in Biblical good news about caring for the creation. And, I hope we can explore some less labor-intensive ways to restore soil fertility.  Legume cover cropping, agroforestry variations, and “farmer-managed natural regeneration” of tree stumps are a few ideas we’ll explore.

I hope this works out to be helpful for a people who have already worked so hard to help themselves.


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