Photo: A group of Tagakaulo farmers in the Philippines learn how to lay out and plant living terraces on a contour, which will help reduce soil erosion and set the course for sustainable farming success.
How do you help a people who are among the poorest of the poor learn to faithfully tithe? For most of the members of the Tagakaulo Lutheran Church of Christ of the Philippines (TLCCP), just putting enough food on the table is a constant struggle. Paying seemingly small medical bills or small school expenses for their children to a receive a public school education can be a crisis. In order to provide their pastors, all of whom work without a salary, with money to attend seminars and motorcycle fares to carry out evangelistic outreach, the church needs an income. And the church’s people need to learn the blessing of stewardship.
Thanks to a grant from LCMS World Relief and Human Care, members of the TLCCP have opportunities for training seminars that teach them techniques for raising livestock, managing tree crops and church stewardship. As the income and stewardship improvement project was implemented throughout 2011, about 100 farming families qualified for receiving livestock (goats and pigs), which can serve as an excellent source of sustainable income and hopefully lead to increased giving toward the support of Tagakaulo pastors.
In order to receive the livestock, families must complete 300 meters of a living terrace planted on the contour on their property. Terraced contours help prevent soil erosion. Experts agree that soil conservation is essential for sustainable agricultural production on the Tagakaulo people’s steeply sloping lands with high annual rainfall. Participating families also receive coconut, rubber and cacao tree seedlings to plant in the contour lines — these trees also reducing erosion. Together with the raising of livestock, the contour farming can help increase farming families’ productivity and income. Families are eligible to receive more livestock for each additional 300 meters of living terrace that they plant.
Marcario and Gemma Labnawan are just one of the families who benefitted from this project. The Labnawans were awarded two goats for attending the appropriate training sessions and planting the living terraces. The income from the sale of their first goats’ first offspring was used to pay for their daughter’s school expenses so that she could continue her education. The family also bought rice for their daily consumption.
The Rev. Antonio Reyes, a pastor in the Lutheran Church of the Philippines, the other LCMS partner church in the Philippines, has served as the on-site project manager, recruiting and organizing the training seminars that teach about agricultural technology and Christian stewardship. Two additional Tagakaulo pastors are working with Reyes to help supervise the contour line planting and distribution of goats and pigs to qualifying farmers.
Please pray for the leaders and members of the TLCCP to continue to grow in their understanding and practice of Christian stewardship, and that more farmers would become involved in this project by expanding their living terraces.
- Visit www.lcms.org/philippines to learn more.
The TLCCP grew out of LCMS mission work on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao — mission work that began in 1988 with the deployment of the first LCMS missionaries to that island. The first Tagakaulo congregation was established in 1995 and a growing group of congregations formally became a church body in December 1998. In the years since LCMS missionaries left Mindanao, former missionaries and other workers have returned to encourage and train Tagakaulo pastors in the Lutheran faith, as the church body continues growing in its theology and practice.