Area farmers halted work briefly Friday morning to gather collectively for prayer and fellowship in a Blessing of the Harvest event at the Bulloch County Center for Agriculture.
Organized by the Bulloch County Agribusiness Committee through the Statesboro-Bulloch Chamber of Commerce and sponsored by AgSouth Farm Credit and Georgia Farm Bureau, the event was held to kick off the 2016 harvest season.
Dr. Tom Marshall, a Portal High School ag teacher for 27 years, opened the event and said man has gathered throughout the history of civilization to ask for a harvest blessing.
"Even if they didn't know that it was the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the one true God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ," Marshall said, "they still knew there was a power beyond their control at work causing crops to grow and produce their bounty."
Marshall said one might be tempted to think a good harvest is the result of the hard work of taking soil samples, correcting the pH, applying the correct kind and amount of fertilizers, keeping the weeds out and scouting for insects and diseases and applying pesticides at the right time.
"The truth," he said, "is that producing crops, as well as everything else in life, is a partnership with God. We are his fellow workers."
Marshall reminded those in attendance that Paul wrote to the church of Corinth in the Bible in 1 Corinthians 3:6-9, saying, "I planted the seed; Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who makes things grow. For we are coworkers in God's service; you are God's field, God's building."
Marshall concluded with these words, just before leading in prayer: "So what we pray for in life is for God to give the growth. We are called to be hard workers in everything we do. We are called to work hard preparing our crops, to work hard at our jobs, to work hard in our relationships, always planting and watering in faith and obedience and asking God to give the increase. Without him, all of our activity is meaningless."
Brannen Family Farm
Jack Brannen, of Brannen Family Farm Partnership, prayed, "We thank you for watchful eyes and your loving arms around us. We're thankful for the recent rain, but more importantly, we thank you for our Savior Jesus Christ, for without him, we have no hope."
Todd Faircloth, district field representative with Georgia Farm Bureau and AgriBusiness Committee member, thanked God for the farmers who work hard for the harvest and asked his blessing on those that sit down at the table but do not know him.
Faircloth prayed, "May we in agriculture be a shining light for those in need so that we can bring this country back to the nation it needs to be."
Willie Scott, of Scott Farms in Collins offered the same sentiment in his prayer: "Continue to bless each one of us, bless our crops, bless our families. Let us be that example of a good Christian so that we might reach others that don't know you."
Speer Brannen attended the event as a representative of his extended family farm operation, Double B Ranch and Poultry, and his personal farm operation, Hawkshaw Poultry Farms, and said his father, John Emory Brannen, couldn't be there because he was selling corn and needed to meet a truck by 7 a.m.
"There's nothing better than prayer," he said. "We turn to the Lord first and give credit where it's due; gets your focus in the right place, keeps your priorities straight.
"It's good to come together with everyone and have a donut, because we won't get to see each other for the next three or four months," he continued with a smile.
Don Johnson and son Matthew Johnson of J3 Farms produce pecans on 160 acres collectively in Bulloch and Jenkins counties.
"We need all the help we can get," Don Johnson said, laughing, but quickly and sincerely added, "With our faith, it's embedded in our life every day to pray."
A community of faith - that's just how Andrea Whitfield, crop insurance specialist with AgSouth and Agribusiness Committee co-chair, referenced the agricultural community.
"Last year was the first Blessing of the Harvest event to bring the agricultural community together to bless the harvest and pray for safety and abundance. It's an opportunity for prayer and fellowship," she said.
After a time of crop talk, juice, coffee and donuts, farmers made their way back to pick-up trucks to resume work on their farms.
Two attendees spoke the farming language on the way out.
"Did you get that rain up there at your house yesterday?"
"Nope, sure didn't."
"We finally got some."
"I saw that cloud up near your house. I hope we get some today."