The very first project that we did in Liberia, long before One Body One Hope was an organization, was a rice drive. Aaron and Nicole Baart had been home from Africa for just under six weeks and received a phone call from a new friend: “The people in my congregation are starving. Can you help?”
We quickly collected enough money to buy a bag of rice and a jug of oil for every member of the church family. A month later, we received the same call; and the following month and the following. By the time we had finished four rice drives, we realized that we wanted to do more. Buying bags of rice for starving Christians across the world wasn’t a very fulfilling experience for us or them.
Sending money to stave off starvation felt insufficient and like the wrong kind of help. Sure, the aid helped in the short term, but we wondered how we could do more and bring development. If nothing changed, the rice drives would become a cyclical thing while still not solving the problem. We didn’t want to simply keep our friends from starving. We wanted to provide the resources and opportunities for them to change their lives and bring development rather than only aid. We wanted to encourage and empower.
One Body One Hope was born out of that desire, longing to connect friend to friend, brother to brother. Even in those early days, we wanted to honor and respect the culture, beliefs and intrinsic humanity in our role as image-bearers of Christ. We were not always good at it and we have learned a lot along the way, sometimes the hard way! However, we can honestly say that the deep relationships we have built with our Liberian brothers and sisters are loving, mutual and based on trust and respect, which a handout could never engender.
A lot of what our Liberian friends do does not need or require our input. They do not need us to teach them how to best grow palm, cocoa, plantain, cassava and rice. They do not need us to teach them how to cultivate churches in their communities or how to raise their families. Although they are experienced and able, there are many things that lack infrastructure and poverty, simply made unavailable: good medical care, advances in education, business/forward thinking, construction and farming materials and financial resources. Through the civil wars in Liberia, an entire generation of farming was lost. The knowledge to carry on a farming business from family to family is something that is learned from the previous generation and something that was lost through those civil wars. That is where One Body One Hope can provide help, by preparing that next generation to be able to farm for future generations.
We want to empower Emmanuel and his congregations to feed their own communities. To return to the soil, the land they’ve been given by God himself, and to equip them to provide for their own families and the children of Liberia.
Dream To Reality
Emmanuel has had the dream that one day we would be able to grow a lot of food to help the Christian community and to help the children of Liberia. In 2013, the Harbel Farm was started with an 8-acre farm. In 2015, with the help of One Body One Hope and great determination and work from our Liberian friends, the 8-acre farm grew into a 152-acre parcel with enormous physical and spiritual opportunities for the people of Liberia and the Abide in the Vide Disciples Church community.
Since 2015, future plans for the Harbel Farm have been discussed between our Liberian friends and our One Body One Hope agriculture team. Long-term, all 152 acres of the Harbel Farm will be in full production, raising both livestock and crops.
Aid to Development
One Body One Hope’s role with agriculture started with aid through the rice drives. With a lot of work in the upcoming years, we pray that God would continue to bless Harbel Farm and grow this land into a self-sustainable farm. Projections show that by 2021, the Harbel Farm will be self-sustainable and operating with more revenue than expenses on an annual basis. As a result, the income generated from this farm will be used to multiply the acres on other acres and multiply new church families across Liberia to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ across the country.
Timeline & Updates
March 2017 – Clearing is finishing and plans are made to begin planting crops during the spring/summer of 2017. Plans are made to develop 15 acres for palm production, 15 acres for cocoa/plantain production and 2 acres for rice production.
September 2016 – Clearing begins on the Harbel Farm as more than 20 workers work intensely to prepare the soil to produce field crops. Trenches are dug alongside rice fields for future rice production. Trees are cut and cross-cut to be removed for future palm, cocoa and plantain tree crop production.
December 2015 – A bridge designed as a college engineering project helped connect the farm with the rest of society, providing the initial opportunity for growth and economic development. Before the bridge was built, the farm was completely isolated from all healthcare, food and outside resources. With the 30-ton capacity bridge in place, beginning development through the farm is now possible.