A few years ago I was dead set on never leaving the country — I had no reason or desire to. But last offseason my wife and I found ourselves on a plane to Africa. Little did I know how my perspective would change. Little did I know that would not be our final trip to this foreign country.
While working with Crisis Aid in Ethiopia, Megan-Kate and I couldn’t shake the call to action we were receiving from God. In a land of such extreme beauty, we saw unimaginable needs going unmet. With hearts for God’s mission and deep passion for creating sustainable agriculture for communities, Megan-Kate and I both walked away from our short visit with the same vision: We knew we’d be back to help this organization and these people create sustainable farms.
About the time I was coming up from the minor leagues and into the majors, I had a growing desire to own my own land. I saw myself lounging about all day, doing nothing and fully enjoying it. But as my faith in God and relationship with Christ grew deeper, I realized I had a much greater purpose than attaining personal comfort. After marrying my wife and seeking God’s richer plan for my life, it became clear to me that my purpose after baseball was to farm.
Excited about the potential, I quickly went down a rabbit hole, researching all I could about sustainable agriculture and how to create healthy, nutritious food for people. So I purchased land to farm and went to work. Though I’m still in my first year and not able to be out on the farm every day, I have already seen great results. I have years and years worth of learning and experience to gain, but I’m loving the process of discovery. When I’m researching and studying about the farming industry, I feel God’s presence so close that I know this is a calling from Him. This is what I’m supposed to be doing.
I didn’t know why God was bringing us to Ethiopia, but after experiencing the countryside and people there, our eyes were opened. When we saw both the needs and opportunities in this area, we thought, “This needs to be done. We need to do this.” As we traveled back home, we continued to think about the women, children and men we had met in Ethiopia. We continued to think about the idea we had to create farming communities there. As we continued to experience success on our own farm here in America, it became apparent that we needed to bring this work to Africa.
As we follow God’s call, it’s been incredible to see how every situation is being orchestrated by Him. Working alongside Crisis Aid, we plan to go back to Ethiopia in November to put our plans into action. We know this process will take time — we need to patiently work together with the local government, find the right location, and raise the funds needed to begin. But we have full faith that God will provide every need in His timing.
As we begin to teach the Ethiopian people about conservation agriculture so they can raise healthy, nutritious resources for their own community, we trust God will work out every detail. Our hope is to not only create a healthier, more sustainable community, but to develop jobs for individuals who have been rescued from the sex trafficking industry. We want to give new life to the people in this country so they can learn to provide for themselves.
Our passion was prompted by God. Our work is fueled by God. On my own I never would have left the comfort of my own country, but now I can see myself spending a month or two at a time to serve these people. It’s mind-boggling to see and experience the work of God in and through our lives. Who knows where He will take us!
“Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the Gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” — 2 Corinthians 9:10-15
*If you are interested in helping raise money for this project or other life-changing work Crisis Aid is performing throughout the world, please visit: https://www.crisisaid.org/giving-opportunities/
— J.J. Hoover
J.J. Hoover is a pitcher with the Arizona Diamondbacks. He is a regular contributor to The Increase, providing monthly articles and opinions.