Monday, April 9, 2012

Fish Farms

Rick Hermanns, a member of our church, has a foundation through his business that supports ministries around the world through Tilapia ponds. This is what he wrote about them.


Fishers of Men

Most of us have heard the expression, “Teach a man to fish, feed him for a day.  Teach a man to fish, feed him for life.”  But what can this look like in a Christian context and in practice?  For five years now, the HigherQuest Foundation has been building fish farms for ministries across the globe.  These fish farms provide an excellent way to provide not only daily sustenance for the people served by the ministry but they help the ministry itself thrive by relieving it of fundraising worries and brings the satisfaction that comes with ownership.

There are several excellent reasons to set up fish farms for ministries overseas.  Some of these include:

Fish Farms Provide an Excellent Return on Investment

As a general rule, in most countries and with proper supervision, a fish farm will produce 150 to 200% per year in fish value relative to the cost of installing the fish farm.  That is, if the fish farm cost $1000, it should produce about $1500 to $2000 worth of fish per year.  As such, the recipient of the fish farm sees significant value from his/her effort.

Fish Farms Provide More or Less Permanent Income

A typical fish farm will last for years and even when it needs to be rehabilitated, it will have already earned enough funds to provide for the rehabilitation.  This fact has several important ramifications.  For example, a donor can know that he or she has not just “stood in the gap” for a temporary period of time, but rather has given a gift that will continue for years to come.  This further allows the donor to gracefully support a different ministry in the future while knowing that they have not abandoned the first.  Let me give you an example, our second and third fish farms were built for an orphanage and an old age home in India.  While there are numerous other needs there, the HigherQuest Foundation can know that it is providing ongoing assistance even while we have moved on to work with other ministries.  That is, each year, our fish farms are providing for the ministry there. 

Another important aspect of the permanence of the fish farm is that the ministry can expand its use.  Some ministries are better than others at this but we have seen ministries take one small fish farm and parlay it into 5 or 6 fish farms.

Fish Farms Can Provide a Great Way to Assist Pastors

Our last project was a collaborative effort in Indonesia with Pioneers, Clean Waters, and Mustard Seed.  In only six weeks and with only $7,800 we built 21 fish farms, 2 hatcheries, and a fish food making facility.  The fish farms are basically backyard fish farms designed primarily to allow pastors to support themselves.  In countries like Indonesia and India, it is incredibly difficult for pastors to support themselves.  Their congregations tend to be poor, forcing them to typically be bi-vocational.  However, as it is known that they are Christian, finding proper employment is usually very difficult , if not impossible.  Thus the backyard fish farm provides for about half of what the pastor needs to live—all for a minimal upfront investment.  In our Indonesian effort, the strong local organizations are allowing the seeds we planted to grow dramatically.

Fish Farms Provide a Basic Need

Other than air and water, food is about as basic a need as we have.  Lack of access to protein has huge long-term ramifications to our health.  In the orphanages where we have installed fish farms, the children have been supplied with a high quality source of protein in their diet that would otherwise have been unaffordable.

Fish Farms are Versatile

We have built systems as small as a large hot tub and as large as a system with three interconnected ponds totaling several acres.  Based upon the land available, the funds available, access to power and water, our fish farms can be tailored to the needs of the ministry being supported.

Of course, there are many factors that are critical to the success of fish farming and the purpose of this article is not to be exhaustive.  However, if there was one critical element to the success of the fish farm, it is the commitment of the recipient ministry.  Only if the ministry sees the value and is sold on the concept will the fish farm(s) succeed.

Into the Future

From just a nifty idea a few years back, we have grown and learned a great deal.  As we have learned from our experience and mistakes, we have adapted and planned for an even bigger future.  Some of the exciting plans are as follows:

·        We are building a training center near Orangeburg, South Carolina.  The training facility will have housing and all that is needed to learn to set up a fish farm.  We expect our first classes to start next summer.  Our hope is that any individual or organization with the desire to build fish farms will participate.  We have very limited resources and want to help maximize what we do have.  In short, it is not about how many fish farms we install, it is about making the most of the talents God has given us.

·        We are in the process of establishing the ability of individuals to loan money to ministries overseas to set up a fish farm.  By requiring the recipient to repay the cost of the fish farm creates even more “ownership”, helps encourage seriousness of purpose, and allows us to extend our resources.  Of course, a person can always donate but the loan program will allow donors to connect even closer to the recipients of their aid.  Simply put, the more financial resources we have, the more fish farms we can build.

·        We are building partnerships with other churches and organizations to identify overseas ministries that would benefit from our services.  As stated earlier, the commitment and quality of the donation recipient is the single biggest determinant of success in the long run.


Pioneers Article

Your Future in Mission

40 Practical 'Next Steps' to help you find your role in God's global drama.

by Andrew Russell

To put them in some type of helpful order I'm going to use the Trail Guide Map from Jeff Lewis' book

'God's Heart for the Nations'. His steps include:

1. Begin. 2. Get Good Shoes. 3.Get Informed. 4 Get CrossCultural. 5. Get Evangelistic. 6. Get

Counselled. 7. Get Prayer. 8. Get Going!

1. So let's Begin

1. Don't wait for a call; rather see the great commission as a command. So many don't go beyond

exploring because they are yet to experience a specific call.

2. Be attentive to the Holy Spirit leading you where he wants you to go.

3. Learn to be a learner/observer – the mission world doesn't need any more experts.

4. See yourselves as a servant – go to the place to serve.

5. The world doesn't need more of you – it needs more of God. Devote yourself to knowing God,

know his book, people are hungry for it.

6. Hold nothing back – surrender everything!

2. Get Good Shoes

7. Find God's mission in the Bible. Do Bible studies like Jeff Lewis' "God's Heart For The Nations"

8. Do the Perspective's course or the Encountering Islam course.

9. Discover the gifts and abilities that God has given you and find ministry outlets and mentors

who will help you to intentionally develop those gifts.

10. Spend significant time and energy developing your ability to interact with God and discern his

voice through the Word and prayer.

11. Look at how God has been equipping you so far.

12. Be intentional – only those who are intentional and take the initiative and keep moving in the

direction of the mission field are the ones who get there.

13. Keep a journal of your daily devotionals/notes on your readings, thoughts and prayers as you

journey – these will help to encourage you in the low times.

14. Develop strong habits in the spiritual disciplines (being able to feed yourself deeply).

3. Get Informed

15. Know the globe and its needs. Get a world map; watch the news, read newspapers – world

section, surf websites like the BBC and CNN.

16. Get a copy of Patrick Johnstone's Operation World or 100 Gateway Cities and start praying daily

for the needs of the world.

17. Read stories about missionaries/biographies of ordinary people used extraordinarily by God.

18. Write to cross‐cultural workers on the field and commit to praying for them – they will be so

encouraged and so will you.

19. Read Duane Elmer's, book CrossCultural Servant hood, also Sherwood Lingenfelter's book

Ministering CrossCulturally.

20. Learn to live more simply.

21. Undertake a Bible college course if you can – get a good Biblical foundation for mission.

22. Do some good cross‐cultural subjects before heading overseas.

23. Start learning another language. It doesn't have to be one you might use – just learn the process

of language learning. It will come in very handy.

4. Get CrossCultural

24. Start at home and get to know your cross‐cultural neighbours

25. Spend time with people from other cultures, learning, listening, getting involved in their lives.

26. Experience the unreached face to face – take a missions trip and get exposure – be intentional

about where you go – spy out the land God has put on your heart.

27. Befriend internationals – talk to them about their faith/become familiar with what they believe

28. Become a good question asker and do so in a way that conveys care and concern for the person.

29. Live in community – it is essential that potential cross‐cultural workers learn to live in

community with others they will serve with.

5. Get Evangelistic

30. Develop a witnessing lifestyle – get involved in outreach where you are now. If you can't do it at

home you won't do it overseas.

31. Get out of yourself. Every cross‐cultural worker needs to seek to meet the needs of others – it is

what Jesus did.

32. Get involved in your sending churches' ministries – start serving at home as you will need the


33. Start a discipleship group on your campus, at work or at home – share your lives with others.

34. Try to church plant in your home country first before you attempt to do it overseas among

'unreached' peoples.

6. Get Counselled

35. Seek accountability and advice for the journey ahead – find a mentor or coach you respect. Let

them speak honestly into your life.

36. Interact with cross‐cultural workers – be encouraged by them and their stories.

37. Share your heart for missions with your home church leaders and see how you can pursue this

together as a body. It is not your work alone – explore how cross‐cultural ministry can be a

natural extension of what your home church is already doing.

38. Start doing an informal survey of mission agencies – it is never too early to narrow it down to 2

or 3 you want to really get to know. Then ask them tough questions and find out which one will

celebrate who you are and how God has uniquely shaped you for mission.

7. Get Prayer

39. Share your vision with others, start gathering to pray for the nations with like‐minded brothers

and sisters. It is never too early to invite people on the journey with you.

40. Stay in regular contact with these supporters – remember that these people are real partners in

your work and treat them as such with frequent communications and invitations to pray and

share their perspectives and insights with you.

41. Build a strong prayer team now no matter how far away you are from serving cross‐culturally.

42. Make good use of the latest technology to bring people on this journey with you. Blogs, Face

book, email, Skype, phone calls, faxes, telegrams, courier pigeons. (Well maybe not the last


8. Get Going

Get going because it is later than you think!

So remember ‐

"Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given and sink yourself into

that! Don't be impressed with yourself don't compare yourself with others. Each of you must take

responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life."

Galatians 6 v 3‐5 The Message

"Twenty years from now, you'll be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than the ones you did.

So throw off the bowlines. Leave the still waters of the harbor. Catch the trade winds with your sail!"

Mark Twain

One final thought and word of encouragement ‐

"But I solemnly swear to keep you safe in the boat, with your wife and sons and their wives."

Genesis 6 v18

"Finally, the day came when the Lord said to Noah; go into the boat with all your family, for among all

the people of the earth, I consider you alone to be righteous."

Genesis 7 v 1

These verses are from the New Living Translation of the Bible. What is interesting is that in some

versions the word 'go' is replaced with the word 'come'. This gives it a totally different meaning.

Come into the ark, come thou and all thy house into the ark.

What a beautiful thought. The Lord was not saying to Noah and his family to go into the ark but to come,

signifying that God was already in the place he was calling Noah and his family too.

So remember God is not telling you to 'GO' anywhere but to 'COME' and join him in his redemptive