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What growing cacao teaches us about integral mission



From Bible teaching to running businesses, people in Peru are experiencing how following Jesus brings life in all its fullness

 
People from the Loreto region of Peru have a front-row seat to Creation. This is the way that Laura-Lee Lovering, an environmental scientist serving with BMS World Mission in Peru, describes life for her friends and neighbours deep in a rainforest criss-crossed by rivers.

Laura is describing why Loreto is one of the clearest places to see the environment’s role in integral mission: mission that brings the whole of life under the transforming power of Christ. The land is intimately connected with daily life. The people of Iquitos farm it every day to support their families.
 
'Do you think the farming work you do is important?' Laura gently asks the pastors on her Creation Administration programme at the BMS-led Nauta Integral Mission Training Centre (NIMTC). 'How do you think God uses the work you do?'

The feeling is often one of sheepishness, a sense that farming prevents the pastors from being in church all of the time.
 



Pastors at the NIMTC are being encouraged that each aspect of life is an opportunity to bring God glory.
 



The pastors are encouraged as they turn back to Genesis and see how the agricultural work they do gives glory to God. 'It’s all a part of being a good witness in the world,' says Laura. When farming is the principle way that these pastors can support their families, and a large proportion of each day must be spent working hard in the fields, this teaching is transformational.

When a plot of land at the training centre needed to be cultivated, it was clear to BMS staff that it should be used to model the NIMTC’s theology of Creation Care – the stewardship of natural resources. A few harvests later, and the crop of pineapples, banana, guava and excitingly, cacao, was being used to explore chocolate-making businesses, teach conservation and reaffirm local pastors’ belief that this too could glorify God.
 



Pedro works at the BMS-led Nauta Integral Mission Training Centre. Trained by the Ministry of Agriculture, he helped to set up the cacao-growing project.

 


Principles such as doing fair business, providing for families and looking after the land are taught and practised with each harvest. Two local women, Marisol and Mariset, have been investigating how to roast and grind the cacao beans and make traditional drinking chocolate to sell locally. The hope is that a small co-operative could be formed, with some of the profits fed back into the NIMTC.

 



 

Marisol and Mariset have been investigating how selling chocolate could help to support the NIMTC and their families.




And while this chocolate harvest is ready for Easter, there’s plans for Christmas time, too. Laura hopes to encourage local churches to build community by hosting the Peruvian festive celebration of eating panéton together and drinking hot chocolate. 'You cannot separate life here from the environment,' says Laura. 'I say to people, let’s read the Bible and see how important Creation is to God. Let’s see how God wants to glorify and bless every aspect of life.'

BMS supporters are helping to bless Peruvian Christians, and encourage pastors receiving vital support and training at the NIMTC. Our Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are flourishing as they come into contact with BMS projects and workers. Giving and prayers from our supporters make all this possible.



This story first appeared on the website of BMS World Mission and is republished with permission 

BMS World Mission, 26/04/2019
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