Growing groundnuts

At the start of Lent I suggested to my Rope colleagues that we should try to grow groundnuts in the office. 

A strange suggestion yes - but one I hoped would have deeper significance.

I chose groundnuts (aka the peanut) as Rope has over the last 5 years helped displaced people in Uganda, victims of war, to rebuild their lives by learning to plant, grow and harvest groundnuts.  Over this time 1,000 families have regained their dignity and a sense of purpose by putting food on their tables, sending their children to school, buying land and building houses.

People, families and entire communities have been transformed by the simple act of growing groundnuts (all rather reminiscent of the parable of the mustard seed in Matthew 13)

So why did we grow groundnuts in our office?

Our UK office is opposite a well-known supermarket and as I pop in and pass the bags of groundnuts sitting on the shelves and I have often wondered to myself “ how easy is it to grow a Groundnut?”

Well this year this challenge held a much deeper significance as many of the farmers supported through the growing season of 2016 had faced drought conditions leading to their crops failing.

In response we launched our Lenten Appeal aimed at raising £6,000 so we could supply them with drought resistant groundnuts for the planting season in 2017.

I hoped that if we grew groundnuts in our office we would, in some small way, connect more deeply with the 200 farmers we wanted to support. 

So at the beginning of Lent as we launched our appeal, our staff team began our groundnut growing challenge.  We set off together just as the 200 farmers do in their 10 farming groups.  We planted together, we laughed together, we watered and worried together, posted live video and photos on our Facebook page… and with a little bit of competition thrown in we cheered with joy when the first sprouts began to appear (Lauren’s was the first!!)

However for me the act of growing groundnuts had a deeper significance.

My little groundnut pot did grow, not one of the first, but it got there. 

But even if it hadn’t I would have still been able to feed myself and family.  My children would still have gone to school and got the medical attention they needed. I would have still come to work each day and received a salary.  In short nothing in my life was dependent on the growing of my groundnuts. 

This is not the case for those 200 farmers in Uganda.  Their future is truly dependent on a successful crop.  And all they  can do is plant and weed.  It is for God to supply the sunshine and rain in equal measure so the seeds can grow.  They are completely in His hands and can do no more than to wait upon Him.

Admitting and submitting

I reflected on their reality as compared to mine.

As a Christian living in a developed country with so many of my needs met easily it is very difficult to know dependency as the farmers in Uganda know and live it.

Yet Jesus clearly and constantly calls us to live a life truly dependent on Him.   John 15:5:  "I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing”.  

Our often sophisticated and complex lives lead us to pursue our own agenda of independence rather than admitting and submitting to His sovereignty over us. 

And Jesus knew and warned against this: “I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God."  (Matthew  19:24)

So as we come to the end of our Lenten period, I see that the mere act of growing groundnuts has reminded me of the need to be more dependent on Christ. 

We will continue to grow and nurture our groundnuts even after Lent ends, using them not only as a constant reminder to uphold those 200 farmers in our prayers but to submit to His sovereignty over our lives and acknowledge our complete dependency upon Him.

Lenten Appeal

As part of this Lenten learning journey I will be gladly donating £30 to provide one bag of drought–resistant groundnuts to farmers in Uganda.

Please click on the link above if you feel encouraged to do the same.