Roasted cocoa beans.


what growing cacao teaches us about world mission

From bible teaching to running businesses, people in Peru are experiencing how following Jesus brings life in all its fullness.

A front-row seat to creation. This is the way that Laura-Lee Lovering, an environmental scientist serving with BMS World Mission in Peru describes life for her friends and neighbours deep in the Loreto region of Peru, a rainforest criss-crossed by rivers where pinapple, banana, guava and cacao thrive. Laura is describing why Loreto is one of the clearest places to see creation’s role in mission that brings every aspect of life under the transforming power of Christ. The land is intimately connected with daily life. The people of Iquitos farm it every day to support their families.

“Do you think the farming work you do is important?” Laura gently asks the pastors on her Creation Administration programme at the BMS-supported Nauta Integral Mission Training Centre (NIMTC). “How do you think God uses the work you do?” The feeling in response is often one of sheepishness, a sense that farming prevents the pastors from being in church all of the time.

The Nauta Integral Mission Training Centre on the banks of a river in Peru.
Pastors at the Nauta Integral Mission Training Centre are being encouraged that each aspect of life is an opportunity to bring God glory.

But, the pastors are encouraged to turn back to Genesis and see how the agricultural work they do gives glory to God. “It’s all a part of being a good witness in the world,” says Laura. When farming is the principal way that these pastors can support their families, and a large proportion of each day must be spent working hard in the fields, this teaching is transformational.

A Peruvian man crouches in a field cutting crops.
Pedro works at the BMS-supported NIMTC. Trained by the Ministry of Agriculture, he helped to set up a cacao-growing project.

Laura-Lee Lovering takes us on a tour of the agricultural project.

Mission is the link between chocolate-making and church; farming and theology. When a plot of land at the training centre needed to be cultivated, it was clear to BMS staff that it should be used to model the NIMTC’s theology of creation care – the Christian stewardship of natural resources. A few harvests later, and the crop of pineapples, banana, guava and excitingly, cacao, was being used to explore chocolate-making businesses, teach conservation and reaffirm local pastors’ belief that this too could glorify God.

Principles such as doing fair business, providing for families and looking after the land are taught and practised with each harvest. Two local women, Marisol and Mariset, have been investigating how to roast and grind the cacao beans and make traditional drinking chocolate to sell locally. The hope is that a small co-operative could be formed, with some of the profits feeding back into the NIMTC.

And while this chocolate harvest is ready for Easter, there are plans for Christmas time, too. Laura hopes to encourage local churches to build community by hosting the Peruvian festive celebration of eating panéton together and drinking hot chocolate. “You cannot separate life here from the environment,” says Laura. “I say to people, ‘Let’s read the Bible and see how important creation is to God. Let’s see how God wants to glorify and bless every aspect of life’.”

Your support is bringing blessing to Peruvian Christians, and encouragement to pastors receiving vital support and training at the NIMTC. Our Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are flourishing as they come into contact with BMS projects and workers. Your giving and prayers make all this possible. Thank you.

Two Peruvian women grind cocoa beans to make chocolate
Marisol and Mariset have been investigating how selling chocolate could help to support the NIMTC and their families.
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