Unusually heavy rainfall in Kenya last December caused severe flooding in most places in the country. The downpour continued almost without ceasing until early this year, causing the loss of hundreds of human lives, displacing thousands of families, sweeping away thousands of livestock, and destroying extensive acres of vegetation. Then torrential rain pelted the country again in March, resulting yet again in massive flooding and landslides.
Timothy Kinyua, missionary leader of ANM partner Cornerstone Evangelistic Ministries, had been praying to build a home for his wife, Yvonne, on their one-acre farm near the Meru forest. The site’s proximity to the forest made for an ideal location — good air and a great vantage point for watching foraging elephants.
“God is so good that we had not started building our home because there’s water everywhere!” Yvonne said to her husband when they visited the farm after the weather had improved. The place was soaked in water. The saturated soil made it hard even to walk around. Yvonne found herself stuck in the mud. The trees and corn that the couple had planted were all ruined.
To the surprise of Timothy and Yvonne and many people in their area, springs of water have started gushing from the ground since the rains. Many residents have had to abandon their homes and move to safe, drier places.
Timothy, with his calm and unflustered disposition, started thinking of how he could best use the waterlogged farm. At first, he thought of planting rice but decided instead to plant an aquatic crop known as arrowroot, a very popular breakfast item in Kenya. The 10,000 stems that Timothy planted have done very well. He and Yvonne have made about $600 so far from the arrowroot harvest.
By May, the water at the farm started to recede. Timothy saw a depression on the edge of the property where water had collected in a sizeable pool. Seeing the great potential of this water, commonly a scarce resource in Kenya, he bought a motorized water pump and pipes and hired a young man to set up a simple irrigation system. With a friend’s help, Timothy planted cabbages and tomatoes, channeling the water from the pool to irrigate the vegetables.
While they were installing the irrigation pipes, Timothy saw some birds flying around the pool. He wondered why. Soon he discovered another blessing — there were fish in the pool!
“It’s amazing as we don’t know where the fish came from!” Timothy exclaimed. “We don’t understand how they ended up there. God has supplied us with fish in our God-made ponds/ground holes. We shared some of the fish with our neighbors and sold some. We do pumping in the morning and evening, and yet the water in the pool has not dried up!”
An elderly man recounted to Timothy how a similar amount of water covered the area in 1965. But during the recent 10+ years that Timothy has been farming, he has never witnessed anything like it.
“We count this as a blessing from God,” Timothy said. They have now planted 7,000 heads of cabbage, 4,000 tomatoes, garden peas, potatoes, and corn. In addition, thousands of grevillea trees (silk oak) have germinated from the seeds that fell from the mature trees along the fence. “We have so far bagged over 3,000 tree seedlings to sell during the rainy season, and I estimate we shall get over $300 from it,” Timothy gladly reported.
He and Yvonne are thankful to their Heavenly Father for these unexpected blessings. “We have shared the vegetables we are raising with our needy missionary brothers and their families who don’t farm, especially in northern Kenya. They are very happy because in their area cabbages are expensive and cost about $1 per head.” Moreover, proceeds from the sale of their produce help the ministry.
During the COVID-19 lockdown in March, when travel was severely restricted, Timothy decided to lease another two-and-a-half-acre farm to keep himself busy while staying home. On that farm, he grows cabbages, potatoes, and carrots. He has planted 30,000 heads of cabbage alone! Located about 45 miles from Mt. Kenya forest, the farm has volcanic soil and plenty of water coming from the rivers in the forest. Timothy plans to share the bountiful harvest with his needy brethren in northern Kenya.
In early November, Timothy and Yvonne distributed 800 cabbage heads to the pastors, their families, and their congregations in several Turkana villages. They bought corn flour to give to the brethren as it would go well with fried cabbage. They still have 1,200 cabbage heads for distribution in other villages. They will sell the rest of their vegetable harvest in the market.
As Benjamin Franklin is claimed to have said, “Out of adversity comes opportunity.”