Written by Debbie Tingley in Thailand. Jan. 2019.

Black Pepper Seedlings ready for planting

I had the privilege and honor of spending a few days with Tewan (Lead staff member in the agricultural department of Integrated Tribal Development Program) hearing about the progress of his vision project of black pepper plants from our last year’s trip until now. I was also blessed with spending time in a nearby village planting black pepper alongside villagers from Mor Krow.  As I listened of the journey of this project, I couldn’t help to think about farming in general and the risk factors involved, being very similar to our walk with the Lord and our own journey. 

Tewan unfolded the progress of the 15 members (villagers) of the black pepper project, showing me of some who had done well thus far, and some who had not been so successful. The one’s who had done well, were willing to put in the time, care, and most of all persevere even though they could not see ahead to the harvest. The ones who didn’t do well with the project, had given up very quickly, giving into the distraction and temptation of other crops or things which could give them more immediate sustenance, but not necessarily something more sustaining over a longer term. 

Myself (right) with Tewan (left)

I couldn’t help but think about the same analogy of keeping my own eyes fixed on the prize. In the Bible book of 2 Timothy Chapter 2:5 it says, ”And athletes cannot win the prize unless they follow the rules...” or the reaping of the fruits of His harvest through patience, love, care, obedience and perseverance during this season of barrenness in my own life. 2 Timothy (2:6)And hardworking farmers should be the first to enjoy the fruit of their labor.

As these farmers who have begun to take the risk of black pepper planting, count the cost economically, their strategic planning, labor, time, and money; I cannot help but think that this is such clear analogy of my own cultivation of my own path and walk with God this last 6 years (particularly this last year) tending to the seeds of missions and the gifts that He has clearly shown me within my own self. 

I am trying to keep focused, avoiding distractions, temptations and what seems like less than poor results or immediate answers (so as to not get in the way of my obedience). It isn’t easy and I falter at times (perseverance and lessons learned along my journey with Him), but learning that no matter what cost, to TRUST in HIM… like a focused athlete adhering to the rules or a patient and persevering farmer, taking the risk to plant the seeds which when well-tended over time will reap the bountiful fruits of his harvest; my own heart, mind and soul focused on the prize or harvest that will one day come to fruition.

I also, couldn’t help but think about my brother in Christ, Tewan, who continues to exude patience, perseverance, and seeking guidance from the Lord for ways to motivate and encourage these farmers to a better life, both economically and spiritually. He continues to have a renewed vision, perseverance and hope for this important project and the well being of these villagers.  This next year, through germination of the black pepper corns, costs have been cut for the seedlings, making them more affordable to the villagers and more inclined to take the risk in farming Black Pepper plants.  I am excited to see how all of our journeys unfold this next year!

Myself with Po-Teh planting Black Pepper under a tree.