Soybean Training and Field Observation

By Dennis Thompson

The Integrated Community Based Development Program’s (ICBDP) AGRIC Department coordinated and hosted a second 2019 agricultural extension methodology training program for the inaugural 15-member class of Volunteer Extension Agents (VEA) and key AGRIC Department personnel. Program activities were conducted at or near the EYN Headquarters in Kwarhi and at select field sites from Yola in the south up to Michika in the north.

Field site observational and training visits included two AGRIC soybean seed production field locations and various soybean and maize demonstrations in addition to four locations established and operated by VEAs as community-based soybean and maize AGRIC Demonstration Fields.

COB’s technical and educational resource person who provided the training was Dr. Dennis Thompson. This was his fifth NE Nigeria in-country experience supporting EYN’s Soybean Value Chain project and efforts to help redevelop NE Nigeria in the past two years. In addition, over the last three years he has coordinated and lead two experiential learning activities for EYN to Ghana related to soybean value chain work. He shared the EYN Soybean Value Chain story during an evening breakout session at the 2019 COB Annual Conference in Greensboro, NC.

Initial classroom extension methodology training was provided to VEAs by Thompson (fondly referred to as Dr. Dennis) in March 2019 being companion information and supplemental to the technical training provided by the Agric Steering Committee pertaining to soybean and maize production. The September 2019 training focused upon extension methodology (in both the classroom and fields) and the real-life experiences garnered by VEAs from the time they moved to their community assignments, established and operated demonstration fields, and trained farmers on EYN agronomic practices to produce maize and soybean.

“The soybean value chain journey, envisioned to become a catalyst for redevelopment, will be long and hard. Creation, development and support of the nascent EYB Volunteer Extension Agent program is certainly a step in the right direction”, according to Thompson. “The eagerness, dedication, enthusiasm and hopefulness exhibited in the faces and actions taken by this inaugural class of Volunteer Extension Agents is remarkable and they are being groomed as the example to be followed by other VEAs in the future” he concludes.

Celebrating the wondrous work of God

Giving Tuesday 2019
www.brethren.org/givingtuesday

By Traci Rabenstein, director of Mission Advancement

“Bless the Lord God, the God of Israel–
the only one who does wondrous things!
Bless God’s glorious name forever;
let his glory fill all the earth!
~ Psalm 72:18-19, CEB

When was the last time you noticed the “wondrous things” God has done in your life? A question that my Sunday school teacher, Fran, at Mechanicsburg Church of the Brethren would ask is, “What were your God moments this week?” Sometimes she would begin with this question, but on other occasions, it would naturally seep into our conversation or even close our time together as people reflected on how they had seen “wondrous things.” I travel often in my role as director of Mission Advancement, and during a recent trip, I noticed a “God moment.”

I like to travel by train when I work at the General Offices in Elgin, Ill.—taking the Pennsylvanian from Harrisburg to Pittsburgh and then Capital Limited into Chicago’s Union Station. The autumn season sets a beautiful stage to travel the rails. Getting into the mountainous areas of central Pennsylvania, the end of the harvest season can be observed as you pass by fields. Orange, brown, green, yellow, and red are the colors that splash this canvas. Traveling by train slows things down and offers the opportunity to reflect on what I’ve seen and experienced. Most trips include having conversations with fellow travelers—hearing their stories, sharing my own, and providing words of encouragement, grace, and peace, if it’s needed.

A few weeks ago, at the conclusion of the October meeting for Mission and Ministry Board, I boarded the train at Union Station to begin the trip back to Pennsylvania. After beginning to talk with my seatmate, we noticed peculiar behavior from the passenger in front of us. This person had been flailing about in their seat, speaking loudly with colorful language, and causing a bit of a ruckus. There was a feeling of concern for those of us who were directly around this person, a sense of uncertainty as to whether their actions should be confronted, and concern about the outcome of a confrontation. As time went on, several people in the railcar shared concerns with Amtrak personnel, who eventually confronted the passenger. The final outcome was the removal of the passenger from the train by local law enforcement.

So, where did I see the wondrous things of God in this situation? God was present through each of my railcar mates. Two people were able to remove and dispose of alcohol that the passenger had brought onto the train by approaching them and asking for a drink. Another man engaged the person in conversation to distract them from causing further alarm. In general, we all looked out for each other as the situation unfolded and worked together to make sure that everyone, including the unruly passenger, was safe until the authorities arrived to intervene.

In this present age, though our culture makes it seem much easier to throw a fist than pass the peace, I watched a group of strangers come together and work to care for one another. We were “strangers no more, but part of one humanity.” This situation gave me a renewed hope for humanity and reminded me that God is always present with us.

Where do you see the wondrous things of God in your life, in your community, or in your place of worship? The Church of the Brethren reveals “another way of living” to those we serve, one in which God’s “glory fills all the earth!” We do this through our Global Mission and Service partnerships in Venezuela, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, and other countries. Another way of living is revealed through the work of our Office of Peacebuilding and Policy as staff meet in Iraqi Kurdistan with ecumenical partners and government officials to talk about active USAID projects to respond to the genocide of Yazidis, the persecution of Christians, and other vulnerable groups. Through the programs of Discipleship Ministries and the Office of Ministry, congregations and pastors are cared for and encouraged. In these ministries and more, God is doing wondrous things around us.

As we enter this season of thankfulness, joy, and giving, we invite you to consider how you will partner with us. May we celebrate the wondrous work of God among us!

This reflection was written for Giving Tuesday on December 3. Join us in celebrating—now or then—by making a gift to the Church of the Brethren at www.brethren.org/givingtuesday.

(Read this issue of eBrethren.)