The 23rd Annual Fellowship of Christian Farmers, International Conference took place in Branson, Missouri, at the Radisson Hotel. The conference dates were Friday, July 29 through Sunday, July 31, although side trips began Thursday morning. The keynote speaker was Pete Briscoe of Telling the Truth Ministries, an online bible teaching ministry. Pete delivered powerful messages on grace, entitled “You Already Have an ‘A'” and “The Mystery.” All conference attendees were send CDs with these messages.
Side trips included a visit to the College of the Ozarks, near Branson. The College of the Ozarks, often referred to as “Hard Work U,” was founded on the Christian values of hard work, character, and financial responsibility.
Debt is discouraged, and the college is not involved in any government loan programs. Students work at the college to pay their tuition, many in agriculture. Working when school is not in session pays for their room and board. Graduates enter the work force with excellent hands-on training and no student loan debt burden. The FCFI guests were treated to a delicious lunch and presentation about the college.
The next side trip was to Lives Under Construction Boys Ranch. The trip included a stop at the LUC Thrift Shop, where sale of donated items benefits the boys ranch. A drive around tour of the ranch grounds was next, including explanations of the many ongoing projects on which the boys work.
Christian teaching is essential to change the lives of these at-risk boys and restore broken relationships. The boys sang praise and worship songs and prepared a fantastic lunch for the FCFI guests. Several FCFI members are regular volunteers at the ranch.
Pastor Tony Gomez, from Torreon, Mexico, spoke Friday night on living in the will of God. Several FCFI members have contributed time and talents to the building of Pastor Tony’s church. More help is needed, and with God’s grace and protection, that work will continue.
The annual auction was moved to Friday night this year, and was entertaining, as always, with Robert Carpenter and Dean Baker as auctioneers. Cheese brought big money. You never can tell year to year what the bidders go after with the big money.
Blueberries and ice cream always makes the conference enjoyable.
Blueberries made it a special memory this year, with the passing of long time FCFI member Ron Bodke, blueberry farmer from Michigan. Ron had a heart for the Russian people, making many visits to Russia spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Noah Sanders, from Foundations for Farming, presented his unique way of sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ by living it, being kind to people, and showing them sustainable farming methods, even for the backyard gardener.
George “the Shoeman” Hutchings, although not really doing the shoe thing anymore, is still active in Africa drilling wells, providing fresh water for small villages in Kenya. George gave an emotional testimony of his service in Viet Nam, on a hill in the pitch black of night, when the Lord surely saved his life and gave him his mission of shoes and water.
Music was provided by local singing group Sons of the Silver Dollar.
Breakout groups gave the opportunity of FCFI members to share in a more personal setting. Members were able to discuss topics of the conference and share our lives with other members.
It is always a good time at the Annual Fellowship of Christian Farmers Conference, and this year, our 23rd, was no exception. Next year’s conference, the 24th Annual, will be held in Lancaster, Pennsylvania on July 28-30, 2017.