Submitted by Rev. Robyn Bles, West Des Moines Christian Church
Ministry is always transformative, but when you can see the ways it’s making a difference, then you know it’s been a good day. As a pastor, I’m having many good days because of the mutually meaningful ministry shared between West Des Moines Christian Church, and two refugee farmers.
Like many folks watching the rising refugee crisis gripping our world, our congregation asked, “How can we help?” Through conversation with local agencies and prayerful discernment by our church, we partnered with Lutheran Services of Iowa (LSI) to create the Beginning Farmer Ministry. Though we do ministry in a bustling suburb of Des Moines, LSI has a field directly across the street from our church. We are literally helping our neighbors; even though they happen to be from Burundi, these neighbors are also helping us.
In this shared ministry, we provide an interest-free microloan to farmers. This loan assists in covering their field rental fee, beginning seeds, and transportation of their produce to local farmers markets. The farmers have one year to repay the loan, while also having a direct market by selling to our congregation. The weekly farm stand is a lavish table of God’s bounty right in our own Narthex. The fresh produce, conversations and smiles shared across the table, across cultures, across language differences are truly transformational.