The sermon on our mission works last Sunday morning allowed me to make some very brief remarks about the Frankie Smith Ag Project that is an integral part of the curriculum at BTC. Unfortunately, time did not allow me to explain the role this project plays in FACE’s goal of training preachers in Benin. Two brief observations must be made before going further:
1.) FACE is a board that oversees the school of preaching. The Pearland Church does not support FACE, but it does provide a full scholarship annually for a student at BTC.
2.) As was mentioned in the sermon, the Frankie Smith Ag Project is fully funded by the generosity of the Smith family.
That said, what does this good work do, and how does it facilitate the goal of training men to preach the gospel? The goals of the project are twofold:
1.) Teach and prepare BTC graduates to return to their villages and improve their quality of life through learned agricultural practices while they preach the gospel of Christ.
2.) BTC graduates will use their knowledge of good agricultural practices as an outreach tool to develop a relationship with villagers and reach them with the gospel.
The project teaches students how to increase crop production and grow healthier livestock, making use of soil analysis, fertilizers, crop rotation, irrigation, feeding regimens, and record keeping. The people of Benin are largely made up of subsistence farmers who still use primitive methods of farming and usually succeed in raising just enough to support their family’s immediate needs. Introducing healthier and stronger strains of vegetables, poultry, rabbit, goat, and pork can only lead to better health and longevity.
Through the Frankie Smith Ag Project, the Smith family funds much more than a small farming operation on the campus of BTC. Their funding provides the salary for a full-time Ag teacher, and also provides six scholarships for students at BTC. The total budgeted expense for this operation exceeds $32,000 annually. The project has been in operation for 24 months. During that time, the school has been able to enjoy significant cuts in operational expenses. In addition to being able to fully fund six students, the vegetables, egg production, and rabbit and swine production have provided a small stream of revenue. This revenue is first reinvested into the Ag project itself by expanding on the number of animals and poultry and by enlarging the pens and the piggery. The irrigation ponds also serve a dual purpose of raising tilapia for market. Beyond that, it has also provided a small amount of income to allow the school to invest in classroom equipment like laptops and projectors to enable the Bible Instructors to more effectively teach the students.
As the Lord demonstrated in His earthly ministry, feeding people is a way of providing an opportunity to feed souls (John 6:1-58). As James points out, the distinction between a living faith and a dead faith is a willingness, or the lack thereof, to show love and compassion to others (James 2:14-17). We must do good to all men (Gal. 6:10). This project funds the education of faithful men who will teach others also (2 Tim. 2:2).
As a member of this congregation, I am thankful for the vision the Smith family has and for what they are doing for the cause in Benin. As chairman of the board of FACE, I am grateful and speak on behalf of every member of the board, each of which enthusiastically supports and appreciates the role the Smith family plays in winning Benin for Christ.
DC Brown ©2013