(MNN) — Only recently has the cultivation of exotic
mushrooms become a practical endeavor. It's not necessarily difficult, and
requires only a willingness to learn, a little work, and a little start-up
So, what do a mushroom farm and missions have to do with one
another? It has everything to do with a
church-planting vision in Moldova. FARMS International's Nathan McLaughlin says
about a year and a half ago, they expanded into Eastern
Europe. Post-Communism was devastating on many of the smaller
countries in the former Soviet Union. As a result, poverty became the norm. A scarcity in jobs and education caught many
middle generation families by surprise.
Desperation made substance abuse a common issue.
Into that scenario, hope shines even brighter. FARMS partnered with an active
church-planting ministry, Gospel Ministries International, in Moldova. GMI works with feeding programs, orphanages,
the forgotten elderly, offers Bible school training, church planting training
and evangelism and discipleship.
Their goal, like FARMS, is
to reach into places of deep need, leading people to solid financial and
spiritual ground. But what works in one country, may not work in another.
Micro-enterprise was a
perfect blend of need and supply. McLaughlin
says they're now helping one church plant with a mushroom farm to get it
self-supporting. "There's a group of three families that have renovated
the lower level of a vacant building and with about a thousand dollars, some
hay and garbage bags, they've created a business that employs a few dozen
people from production to the final sale in the market." [The "garbage bags" are a special
type of bag that they bought using the funds from FARMS. The bags are sterile
and have a special consistency that prevents the mushrooms from becoming
contaminated. (i.e. petroleum based, etc)]
Aside from helping the church, says McLaughlin, the project
serves as witness to their faith. "One strain on the family that
exists, is that you'll have the mother or the father that's often forced to
leave the family to try and find work and hopefully send money back to the
families,. With the FARMS project in Moldova, the biggest testimony that
we hear is that it's allowing families to stay together. Its really
become a tremendous witness to the cities where we're working."
As a result, the church is
being empowered to carry on effective evangelism and church planting, as well
as human needs ministries. Click here if
you want more information.