With a Bible in one hand and a garden fork on the other, one man is hoping to win souls through what he calls “Agriculture evangelism”. John Wambari Kiragu is spreading the good news by combining Biblical aspects of good nutrition with modern day horticultural commercial farming. Pastor Kiragu conceived the idea in 2008 with a vision of instilling healthy eating habits among the flock, as a way of protecting the body, which the bible says, is the Lord’s temple.
“Agriculture evangelism is the integration of two aspects; agriculture as an economic activity and evangelism as a spiritual endowment. In the beginning, man was created to live in the beautiful garden full of all types of fruit, vegetables and other goodies, which kept him and his wife Eve in good health. Agriculture evangelism seeks to remind the modern man and woman that they need to mind about their body’s health as much as the soul,” he says.
As he preached he discovered that some members of the church were in poor health. Kiragu shared out with a medical doctor, who was in agreement that most of the illnesses could be avoided by taking ‘live foods’ such as green vegetables, fresh fruits and roots.
The fact that the doctor saw the need for people to revert to eating fresh foods that are of great value to the body, convinced Kiragu to introduce agriculture evangelism.
“The doctor told me that stored foods which have become part of many families’ menu are not useful to the body since they lose many valuable nutrients. Some people overcook food without knowing that it leaves it without much ‘nutritional integrity’ for the body.”
Young people who have experienced the effects of poor nutrition presented him with an opportunity to promote agriculture evangelism. With them and with the help of the Kenya Angriculture Research Institute, he embarked on small-scale vegetable and fruit farms. The projects are in Gatamaiyu in Lari District and Githunguri in Kiambu.
“We have been growing pepper, amaranthus, pumpkins, cucumber, carrots among others. We have also been doing fish farming. We now want to partner with Asami to undertake greenhouse farming which will double the production and also reduce the cost of risks for the horticultural crops.”
Since the project started, the youth are having a source of income. Crime rate has dropped because there is enhanced financial stability, and improved lifestyles.
Pastor Kiragu is also the Clead International (www.cleadinternational.org) executive director, an organisation dealing with leadership, education and community empowerment. He says the organisation would like to spread the same programme to other parts of the country. Kiragu is the youth pastor at Rwaka Deliverance Church, Nairobi.
He says that through partnerships with other organisations, churches and communities can reach many people who have been taking nutrition for granted. This will also ensure that the youth are not enslaved by poverty that pushes them into crime.
BY PETER MUSA