In this issue:
Another International Peace Conference  |  Africa: What's the Problem?
Ram Zango Dreams a Dream  |  Preparations for the Agriculture Training Center

 

                      Another International Peace Conference:
                            What Will Be the Outcome?

 

 

Monthly Report: November 2007
Cheshvan - Kislev  5768

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  Tiny Israel lies in a sea of Arab Muslim states which in turn are neighbors to many more non-Arab Muslim countries. This map does not include Asian countries such as Indonesia, the most populous Islamic country in the world.


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By Shira Sorko-Ram

 

 

Are you ready for it? Another Middle East peace conference is about to be held at Annapolis Naval Academy in the middle to late November - or there about. Nobody knows who is going to attend. The Palestinians claim that at least 36 countries will be attending. On the other hand, they are not sure they will be there - unless Israel agrees before hand to a long list of concessions that are existential issues with the State of Israel.  

As one Israeli journalist said, “If peace breaks out between the Israelis and Palestinians at the Annapolis summit, I’ll eat my hat.” (Haaretz 9Oct07)

 

It is good to remind oneself of the core issues - issues that will be at the center of the conference - if, indeed, it takes place. No doubt, God will be looking for His people to bathe that conference in prayer.

What does Israel want to get out of this conference? That the Palestinians stop the terrorism and recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state.

And the Palestinians? What are they demanding? There are three main issues. They are insisting on a Palestinian state that will include:

1. Full control over East Jerusalem, the Old City including the Temple Mount and the Western Wall to be under Palestinian Muslim rule.

2. Right of return of all Palestinian refugees to live within the State of Israel.

3. Israel’s return to her pre-1967 borders  (before the Six Day War), and a hand-over of all the land of Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) and Gaza to the Palestinians as their homeland.

Now let’s analyze the Palestinian demands one at a time.

 

DEMAND ONE: SOVEREIGNTY OVER JERUSALEM

Since the days of Arafat, Palestinian politicians have maintained that the Old City of Jerusalem is 100% Arab, always has been and always will be. However, since 1967, the Old City and East Jerusalem have been under the sovereignty of Israel, although Israel has given over the day-to-day administration of the Temple Mount to the Islamic Trust Wakf to maintain peace.

In advance of the hoped for Arab victory at the conference, the Palestinian Minister for Jerusalem Affairs postures that “a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict necessarily requires the establishment of a Palestinian State with its capital in all of east Jerusalem and any accord short of that will not work.” (Jerusalem Post, 8Oct07)

However, the Israeli public will never permit handing over the Western Wall to the Muslims.

Last year, a study by a liberal Israeli think tank came up with five possible solutions for Jerusalem:

1. Israel would have sovereignty. (But the Palestinians will not agree to that.)

2. The Palestinians would have sovereignty. (The Israelis will not agree to that.)

3. The Old City be physically split into Arab/Jewish sections with international supervision to help monitor and settle disputes. (Very difficult to map out.)

4. An Israeli/Palestinian sharing of power over the Old City with international (U.N.) backing. (Impossibly difficult.)

5. Giving the sovereignty of the historical sites to an “international body,” which would have the authority to delegate powers to both sides as it wished.

The think tank concluded that number five is the preferable and the most realistic option. (Ibid., 8Oct07) In my thinking the only way that any of these solutions could be enforced would be by military power.

Who cannot help but think of Zechariah’s prophetic warning 2500 years ago: And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all the nations of the earth are gathered against it. Zech. 12:3.

At this juncture, the Palestinians will not agree for anyone but themselves to rule the Old City, and Israel will not give up the rights to the Western Wall and the Jewish Quarter. So no agreement will be made. The only chance for some kind of forward move, says former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk, is that the thorny issue of sovereignty be left untouched since there is no solution that will be agreeable to both sides. (Ibid.)

DEMAND TWO: RIGHTS OF PALESTINIAN REFUGEES

Palestinians claim about 750,000 Arabs fled Israel during the Independence War in 1948 (although there are well-documented books on how the U.N. fed and counted any Arab who entered the U.N-run refugee camps from anywhere, stating that it was difficult to verify where the Arabs had come from.)

 

Today, this number has grown to 4.5 million, and the Arab nations have refused to absorb them into their lands, even though they have the same culture, religion and language and are of the same ethnic group. Today, the Palestinians are claiming the right for all children of such refugees to move into Israel proper (not just the West Bank or Gaza.)

The right of return of these Muslims into Israel is a euphemism for flooding the nation with Muslim citizens. Through democratic means of voting in Muslim leaders - just as Hamas was democratically voted into leadership in Gaza - they would be able to eradicate Israel as a Jewish state. It is a nightmare beyond comprehension, as terrorists would overcome the state in a flash.

Determined to promote this plan, a prominent spokesman for Palestinian refugees, Salman Abu Sitta, has sent a letter to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas who will be representing the Palestinians at the Annapolis conference, saying, “What has drawn our attention more than anything is Israel’s attempt to redefine the two-state solution. Israel now
wants mutual recognition - Israel as the national homeland for the Jews and, on what’s left of the land, Palestine as the national homeland of the Palestinians.” (Ibid.)

 

Abu Sitta called on all Arabs to reject this “new formula” since it would mean abandoning the Arab right to all of Palestine and accepting Jewish historical and biblical claims to the land.

Says the Jerusalem Post, “This letter is revealing because it suggests that, for all the previous Palestinian talk of recognizing Israel and the previous ostensible embrace of the ‘two-state solution,’ this never meant either an acceptance of the Jewish right to sovereignty in its ancient land, or even to accepting Israel’s right not to be overwhelmed demographically by Palestinians. (Ibid.)

In short, the Palestinians’ concept of making peace is completely different than that of Israelis, Europeans and Americans, as they understand the word. What Sittu is saying is under the two-state arrangement Palestinians would have their state, and Israel would have its state under the condition that all the Palestinian refugees could come and live there. Any way you read it, it is a formula to destroy the Jewish state.

WHAT ABOUT ISRAELI REFUGEES?

But there is another incredibly important issue that is rarely heard  - and rarely brought up, even by the government of Israel. When the U.N. gave its approval for Israel to become a nation, the wrath of the Arab nations was turned against its own Jewish citizens. The New York Times on May 16, 1948 printed a banner headline, “Jews in Grave Danger in All Moslem Lands. Nine Hundred Thousand in Africa and Asia Face Wrath of Their Foes.”

On January 18, 1948, the president of the World Jewish Congress Dr. Stephen Wise appealed to U.S. Secretary of State George Marshall: “Between 800,000 and a million Jews in the Middle East and North Africa, exclusive of Palestine, are in ‘the greatest danger of destruction’ at the hands of Moslems being incited to holy war over the Partition of Palestine ... Acts of violence already perpetrated, together with those contemplated, being clearly aimed at the total destruction of the Jews, constitute genocide, which under the resolutions of the General Assembly is a crime against humanity.” (http://www.spme.net/cgi-bin/facultyforum.cgi?ID=1139).

Most Jews fled with just the clothes on their back, with the Arab nations appropriating their homes, land and possessions. In all, 800,000 Jewish refugees fled to Israel from Muslim countries, and the just-born nation of about 700,000 Jews absorbed them into the tiny land of
Israel. Not a word of outcry from any international body about the injustice done to these refugees.

All that to say this: Israel will never agree to the return of 4.5 million Muslims into the land of Israel. So demand number two will not be accepted in any way, shape or form.

DEMAND THREE: ISRAEL MUST RETURN TO PRE-1967 BORDERS

When the U.N. General Assembly approved the Partition Plan for creating two states in  Mandatory Palestine on November 29, 1947, exactly 60 years ago, the Jews greeted the resolution with singing and dancing. The Arabs flatly rejected it and went to war against Israel to abort her before she was born.

The surrounding Arab nations continued to war against Israel and in May 1967 President Gamal Abdel Nassar of Egypt boasted “The Arab people is firmly resolved to wipe Israel off the map and to restore the honor of the Arabs of Palestine. The battle will be a general one and our basic objective will be to destroy Israel.” (http://www.sixdaywar.co.uk/)

But Israel made a pre-emptive strike and within six days found herself in control of all the West Bank, the Golan Heights and Gaza.

 

Journalist Yoel Marcus laments that even if moderate Palestinians are prepared to divide the country today between Muslims and Jews, it is with “the condition that they don’t pay a penny for their idiocy, their ineptitude and their crimes, not to mention the Jewish blood they have spilled. They demand that we turn the clock back, that we pay them restitution, that we agree to their right of return, and so on and so on.” (Haaretz 9Oct07)

Furthermore, everyone knows what happened when Israel twice unilaterally withdrew from land (biblically belonging to Israel) - southern Lebanon and Gaza - over the last few years. Today both areas are terrorist territories ruled by Hamas and Hizbullah. From Gaza, Qassam rockets are launched daily into Israel’s southern towns. This last week, larger rockets were launched that hit deeper into Israel’s heartland.

So what can Israel do to start building up trust with her Palestinian neighbors?

The Palestinians say, “Take away the roadblocks. They make life very difficult for us.” Israel answers, “But we are catching many terrorist on their way to Israeli cities.” Yet, hoping against hope, but against the advice of the Israeli army, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has, as a goodfaith
measure, removed several roadblocks.

The Palestinians say, “Release our sons from prison.” Israel responds, “But they are in prison for killing or planning the deaths of innocent Israeli citizens.” Yet, hoping against hope, but against the advice of the Israeli army, several hundred prisoners have been let loose in the last few days. Everyone knows they intend to continue their interrupted work.  

 

The Palestinians say, “Tear down the fence/wall that you have built. It is a great inconvenience for us when we need to visit Israel or other places in the West Bank.” Israel responds, “But have you noticed suicide bombings have dropped to zero since terrorists have a difficult time crossing over to Israel now?”

But have you noticed something? Have you noticed that the Palestinians make no offers to stop terrorism or make any kind of concessions? It seems that few do.

The man that the Americans look to for “the solution” is President Mahmoud Abbas, head of the Fatah militants. Abbas is an extremely weak leader because his government is incorrigibly corrupt and inept - so much so that Hamas was able to win the elections in Gaza on the  promise that they would clean up the corruption. So much for that.

The American Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice believes that because Abbas is so weak, the best thing is for Israel to make as many concessions as possible so that he can be propped up. Ironically, this is exactly the same approach that Arafat used.

 

“In fact,” says commentator Amir Oren, “Abbas is a continuation of Arafat in his exploitation of the power of weakness. The more Abbas is weakened, the more Condoleezza Rice is willing to give him, at Israel’s expense, so he won’t get lost entirely. (Indeed, there is fear in Israel that Hamas will take over the West Bank, just as it did Gaza).

“The result is a shelving of the staged approach at the heart of the [defunct] “road map,” and an agreement to Abbas’ pleas to ignore the milestones [the various phases of the Palestinians proving they are keeping their word] and to skip verbally to the third and last stage [when the Palestinian state will be established].”

“The road map is actually a game of truth or consequences,” says Oren. “Each side in its turn will reveal its position and will carry out moves on the ground to advance the bargaining toward its final aim…

“It would be encouraging, were it not for the dangerous gap between the great expectations and the helplessness of Abbas and of his prime minister, Salam Fayad, a good guy and a talented economist…[but] not a national leader for a crucial period.” (Haaretz, 25Sept07)

 

“I find it hard,” says columnist Yoel Marcus, “ to imagine Abu Mazen [Abbas] putting his foot down in Gaza, halting terror, dissolving the terrorist organizations and ending the Qassam rocket fire.” (Haaretz 9Oct07)

Then too, Prime Minister Olmert is himself in a very weak position and must pacify his right-wing parties in his coalition to stay in power. To protect his own rear guard, he has duly promised them that he will not withdraw from any West Bank land (Judea and Samaria) unless Palestinian terrorism is stopped. (Ibid.) But terror hasn’t stopped in forty years, and none of the terrorists are promising they’re going to stop now.

But let’s imagine that terrorism did stop. Can you imagine Olmert moving 250,000 Israelis out of the West Bank? Even if somehow he were to make an agreement with the Palestinians to keep the larger towns in the West Bank and exchange them for land in Galilee where there are Arab towns, he would still have to move many thousands of Israelis out of their homes spread across mountains of Judea and Samaria in small villages.

Here is the reality. The nation was traumatized when 16,000 Israelis were forced out of Gaza, and most of those who were evacuated a year and a half ago are still in temporary housing, without jobs, and don’t know if they will ever have the chance to regain their livelihood. I can’t imagine how any prime minister in Israel could pull that off in the West Bank and stay in office. Israel, they say, is a bone in their throat.

So why is Israel still so keen to create a Palestinian state? Israel’s leaders feel that the longer the world sees the Jewish state as occupiers, the more the western world will turn against her. Today there is no other democratic country that rules another people except Israel.

Do you want to know how the majority of Israeli people really feel? They wish - “if only the Arabs would stop the terrorism and recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state… we would give them a state on a silver platter.” And if Israelis really thought there would be genuine peace, then the whole nation would rise up and make incredible sacrifices….

But the Israeli people have little hope that Arab Muslims will make peace with Israel no matter what she does. Israel understands that is simply “against their religion.” The Jewish people know that Muslims believe they will one day conquer the world - and that can’t be done without first disposing of Israel.

Senior Defense Ministry officials said it is likely that Israel would not be able to deliver what the Palestinians are demanding and, as a result, the summit could fail even before it begins.

According to journalist Yaakov Katz, the Europeans have also begun to acknowledge this possibility and are pressuring the U.S. to hold the summit “no matter what” so as not to appear to fail in the face of the world and particularly Hamas in the Gaza Strip. (Ibid., 5Oct07) No doubt, the U.S. and Europe will use every persuasive tool available to them to get Israel and the Palestinians to the negotiating table where arms will be twisted.

Opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu, who is completely against the conference and the concessions Olmert says he is planning to offer, has lashed out at the government’s policy. Giving Hamas half of Jerusalem will make the rest of Jerusalem unlivable, “ Netanyahu said. “Giving up Judea and Samaria will transfer the areas controlling the coastal plain into the hands of Hamas, leading to Qassams…on Tel Aviv.”

Netanyahu claims that Israel is placing all its cards on the table, a move that only causes the Palestinians to pressure Israel to continue making more concessions. “Olmert will place Hamas men on the walls of Jerusalem,” he warned. “Jerusalem will fast become a pilgrimage site for terrorists from all over the world.” (Ibid., 8Oct07)

There is now much talk by Palestinians and Israelis about a third intifada if the conference fails.
Hopefully, we are not in for another round of war and terror. But for sure we are not going to have a peace agreement.

Yet... all the Palestinians have to do is just stop the terror! But, say the Palestinians, “Why should we? We are winning.”

I will gather all nations…
There I will enter into judgment against them
Concerning my inheritance, my people Israel,
For they scattered my people among the nations
And divided up my land.   Joel 3:2

Yes, this is a dangerous time for the U.S. God has made his will known concerning the Land
belonging to Israel:

Surely I have spoken in My burning jealousy against the rest of the nations and against all Edom, who gave My land to themselves as a possession, with wholehearted joy and spiteful minds, in order to plunder its open country. Ezekiel 36:5

Prayer is a powerful weapon against the intentions of the evil one. Keep alert to the unfolding of this conference.

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Africa: What's the Problem?
By Shira Sorko-Ram

Burkina Faso. Here we go again! Praying and working toward seeing the “impossible” - believing that God has planted deep in our hearts the vision to help pull the third poorest country in the whole world out of its poverty!

Across the middle of Africa are many of the world’s poorest nations. Twenty-five nations below the Sahara desert have the curse of stagnated economies - with their people getting poorer and hungrier every year.

This reality must be integrated with the fact that over the last two decades so many billions in aid have been given to Africa that no one seems to know just how much - the low estimates are $200 billion! Western countries have promised $25 billion, each year over the next ten years.

Yet, of the approximate billion people on earth that suffer from malnutrition, half live in the sub-Sahara nations. And, according to the 2005 U.N. Human Development Report, 15 of the 31 countries at the bottom of economic development, and which the U.N. labels “Low Human Development,” are French-speaking African countries.

Burkina Faso, French speaking, land locked, with few natural resources, is third from the bottom - just above Sierra Leon which was destroyed by an unimaginable 10-year war fought by thousands of child soldiers. The poorest of all countries is Burkina’s French-speaking neighbor,
Niger.

The world famous economist, Jeffrey Sachs, states, “The idea that African failure is due to African poor governance is one of the great myths of our time. They can’t get out of the hole on their own. If we don’t take a different approach, we will not only see certain collapse; we will see a catastrophic downward spiral of violence.” (New York Times 7Nov.04)

While the great thinkers try to figure out what to do, we believe God has given us a practical plan to help the country of Burkina Faso out of their poverty! Perhaps this sounds like “chutzpah,” but there is a key that Sachs and the world thinkers have never thought of. Let me explain.

DEVELOPING THE PLAN

We sat down during the High Holidays in Israel with Ram Zango, a strong and respected spiritual leader in Burkina Faso and Shlomo Sasson, our Israeli agriculture expert, an Orthodox Jew, who has already spent one year in Burkina working on the project now called West Africa Initiative. (check the website http://www.westafricainitiative.org/!)

Shlomo outlined the challenges and the opportunities in this land of 13,500,000 souls living in an area the size of Colorado. According to the same U.N. report the average Burkinabe makes $345.00 per year, slightly less than $1.00 a day, though his estimated buying power is about $3.20 per day. About 86% of the population are farmers. This kind of wage equals poverty, poverty, poverty.

 

The land in Burkina Faso lies fallow during the dry season seven or eight months of the year.

 

In practical terms this means during the rainy season (if there is not drought) they grow food for about four months. They store what they grow in make-shift mud huts, and hope that the food will last until the next rainy season. Only three out of four children make it past their fifth birthday.

SO WHAT IS THE ROT PROBLEM?

Are the Burkinabe people lazy? Actually Burkinabe have the reputation in Africa of being hard workers. Other countries like to hire them because of their industrious nature.

Is there not enough water? Believe it or not, different nations around the world have funded a number of dams throughout the country, thereby making available considerable amounts of water for farming.

Is there a lack of arable land? There is much undeveloped land which could be used for agriculture, but now lies dormant.

Then, if there is land, water and people who are industrious and willing to work, what is the problem?

One word. Knowledge. There is an extreme lack of agriculture know-how on the most basic level. We asked Shlomo to give us examples of ineffective farming and here are his comments.

Today, except for very few exceptions, Burkina Faso has two methods of irrigation. The first is with a bucket. The second is “flooding” where the water runs by gravity from one of the dams and actually floods the land. Those living near a lake can thus “irrigate” their crops. But this method is devastating to the land and over time will literally destroy its capacity to produce.

The type of soil in Burkina is predominately clay and has a very slow rate of water absorption. So when the soil is flooded and fertilizers have been applied, most of the water evaporates leaving the majority of the fertilizer on the top soil in the form of salts. (Almost all year around there is extreme heat 95° - 100°, which can even reach 115°). This leaves the soils increasingly unusable and crop productivity decreases by the year.

 

Local Burkinabe pastors in Northern Burkina asked Ari, together with Ram Zango, to pray that a Christian agriculture community would be established there. A new dam has been built by foreign government funds, but the adjacent land has not been cultivated because of lack of irrigation know-how. The government has offered free land for an Agriculture Training Center.

 

As the land becomes less fertile, the farmers, not knowing why, try, if possible, to add extra land to keep their productivity up, but continue to use the same methods. Of course they are simply creating more saline soils. But what can they do? Up until now they have known no other alternative to water their fields.

Shlomo explained to us that the Burkinabe farmers (and farmers of other surrounding French-speaking countries) do not know…

- how much water to use for different crops
- which type of fertilizer to use for which crop
- when to apply the fertilizer
- how to identify diseases or insects
- how to prepare the soil according to the requirements of a specific plant.

They have no expertise in modern irrigation methods - even the most basic techniques are unknown to them.

Has the Burkinabe government not tried to help its farmers? The answer is, as much as they could. But a number of Israeli agriculture experts have told us that all over the developing countries, when governments try to develop a project, it fails as soon as the experts leave. Employees paid by the government to farm, whether they are local overseers or workers, lack the resourcefulness to produce maximally; they are paid the same amount regardless of the productivity. And government agencies everywhere inherently have deep pockets that gobble up the funds no matter how good their intentions are.

THERE IS AN ANSWER!

But here is the key to bring agriculture success to Burkina Faso, so obvious, but so hidden from the world! According to pastors in Burkina Faso, the number of Evangelicals there has reached about 10% of the population - around 1,300,000 believers. Charisma magazine in the January 2005 issue noted that Burkina has one of the fastest growing churches on the globe.

The work ethic and character of born-again Christians as a whole is on a completely different level than that of those without a relationship with the God of the Bible.

It is for these evangelical farmers that Ram Zango and Shlomo Sasson are creating a model Agriculture Training Farm near the capital of Ouagadougou. 

 

On this farm selected Christian farmers will be taught in a one-year program to grow fine quality produce and much higher yields. They will learn how to…

- grow and transplant seedlings to the field
- fertilize properly
- treat plant diseases and pests
- know when to plant and know what to plant
- market their produce and package it
- incorporate modern techniques for rain-fed farming
- use irrigation techniques, and much more.


Shlomo Sason teaches his future overseers

 

Their time of study and work in the Agriculture Training Center will give them two and a half cycles of planting and harvesting experience.

The farmer will then be able to cultivate his own property with his new skills. A trainer working under the supervision of Shlomo will be overseeing the farmer for five years. After that, he will be on his own and will be producing up to four or five times (depending on the crop) what he was able to do without the know-how. And the crops will be of a quality not yet seen in Burkina Faso!

To enable the farmer to use his new technology, he will receive an interest-free loan to buy basic irrigation equipment and farming tools; he will pay back 20% of the loan a year, over a five year period. The Agriculture Training Center will market the crops and deduct the loan repayment from his profits.

Since farmers usually own only an acre or two, the cost of outfitting them in irrigation equipment will not be impossible to fund as organizations see what these farmers are able
to produce.

Shlomo estimates that for each acre a farmer could make a profit of around $4,000 a year! Instead of $345! That is a revolution!

Already there are secular funding organizations that have shown interest in the program, but we must get the first crops planted and harvested so they can see the viability of investing in this program.

Even in Burkina’s great poverty, Ram Zango believes the blessing of God is already being manifested in his land:

 


Shlomo Meets with Agriculture Ministry Officials

- Unlike so much of Africa, there are no wars in Burkina!

- Even though half of the Burkinabe people are Muslim, they are not of the aggressive type, and there is no persecution against the Christians.

- The 30% who are pagan are being reached through the message of salvation and many miracles.

- Many Burkinabe Catholics have been touched by the Charismatic movement and have heard Reinhardt Bonke preach and thus understand Biblical salvation.

 

- The government authorities are benign and the President is Catholic. They are thoroughly behind Ram Zango and the West Africa Initiative. The government has given the land for the program, and has promised as much land throughout the country the program can use for the future. It has given WAI rights to bring in all the farming equipment needed tax free.

God has prepared this little country, among the poorest in the world, to be a light. By training the Christians farming techniques perfected in Israel, we see the possibility of economic revolution in the country - with the Christians leading the way!

Shlomo exclaims passionately, “Imagine if we are able to establish 10 centers throughout Burkina, what impact this will have on the national economy! What it will do to break the back of the omnipresent poverty!”

But there is more! There are no less than 18 Frenchspeaking countries in Africa. A strengthened and prosperous French-speaking Christian church in Burkina Faso, a living example of what the power of the God of Israel can do, has a vast mission field of Muslims and pagans it can reach. A mission field that is one of the least reachable by the English-speaking West because of the language barrier!

Who but God could think of such a plan!

For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
And do not return there without watering the earth,
And making it bear and sprout,
And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater;
So shall My word be which goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me empty,
Without accomplishing what I desire,
And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.
Isaiah 55:9-11

I will bless those who bless you.

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Ram Zango Dreams a Dream

 

In 2002, Maoz Israel Ministries received an incredible offering of over $4,000 from believers in the West African country of Burkina Faso, the third poorest country in the world, according to U.N. Human Development Report of 2005. The believers sent the offering after being taught by local Minister Ram Zango that if they would bless Israel God had promised to bless them.

After traveling to Burkina Faso, we, in cooperation with Gateway Church in Southlake, Texas, began a program that would create a model Agriculture Training Center where the Christian farmers of Burkina Faso would be taught Israeli agriculture technology for desert and semi-desert farming.

This year Maoz contributors have enabled us to send $5,000 per month for the project, plus we were able to purchase a badly needed pickup truck. Though the beginning of this program is small, it ultimately has the possibility of raising the standard of living for the farmers that would be revolutionary. It has caught the attention of Burkina’s Prime Minister who told Gateway representatives that he is behind us because of our vision to serve and empower the people of Burkina Faso to become self sufficient.

The model Agriculture Training Center with its first 45 acres is located in an ideal  area (for marketing purposes) near Ouagadougou the capital. We are now edging closer to getting the Center up and running in the next couple of months.

 

 

Preparations for the Agriculture Training Center

 

What has already been done over the last 12 months?

1. Ram Zango, together with Maoz and Gateway Church, commissioned Shlomo Sasson to prepare a master plan for creating a model Agriculture Training Center in Burkina Faso to train Christian farmers the techniques necessary for modern farming.

2. Shlomo visited many areas in Burkina, spoke with farmers, met with Ministry of Agriculture officials and research workers, and visited market places and local distributors of agriculture produce.

3. After gathering all the required information, Ram and Shlomo met together with Ari and Shira and Maoz’ Israeli accountant, Itsik Issan, and brainstormed, detecting and dissecting the core problems in Burkina and crystallizing the ideas that would be the appropriate solutions in the formulation of the project.

4. Shlomo drew up a master plan, and again there was another meeting in Israel to discuss every aspect of the program, sharpening and refining the plan.

6. Meanwhile Ram and Shlomo met often with the Burkinabe Agriculture Minister and other government officials, and a delegation from Gateway met together with Prime Minister Tertius Zongo. The Agriculture Training Center was made an official project with approval and backing of the Burkinabe government with many benefits such as free land and tax free imports.

7. The Israeli government has also extended its hand to help with the project and will be sending Israeli farming experts in specific areas to give seminars to the farmers selected for training.

8. Several different pieces of property were offered by the Burkinabe government. A decision was made on the optimal location for the project site. Land acquisition was made and the physical planning of the project site undertaken.

9. Meanwhile, Shlomo, who is not only a very experienced technical agriculturalist, but a fantastic teacher, began training five future trainers (overseers) in Burkina.

10. Maoz provided airfare for several Burkinabe managers/trainees to Israel to take courses of two to four weeks offered by the Israeli government to introduce them to hi-tech agriculture concepts and the possibilities for much higher productivity.

11. The land was cleared and leveled. An existing small water reservoir was deepened and inner roads were built. A “precrop” was sown to create “green manure” (in order to enrich the soil with nitrogen and organic matter).

13. Shlomo shopped on four continents for the best prices and products for the project’s needs. He bought drip lines from Italy, tractor and farm machinery from USA, nursery structure from Burkina Faso. As money is received for the last container needed, he will buy pumps, filters, and irrigation main pipes from Israel and Ghana.

14. At this moment, Shlomo is building the nursery installation for the seedlings.

Within the next few weeks, as funds become available, the following will be done:

A. An electrical power line will be connected to the farm. B. Water connection will be made. C. A pumping station installed. D. The farming equipment in the first two containers will shortly arrive. E. Preliminary storage facilities will be built using 40 foot containers. F. An elevated water tank will be installed for the nursery and basic logistical center.

We already have $35,000 of the $108,000 needed for the above. The program’s last hurdle will be to purchase a container of irrigation equipment. The cost is $181,500. And then we will be up and running!

Shlomo estimates that in the first year of crops the farm will clear $300,000 with the sale of the produce! This money will be used to expand the logistics center, storage space, the fencing,
different types of greenhouses - which will enable the farm to teach further techniques - and the oxygenizers for the water reservoir that will be used as a commercial fish pond.

Everything that has happened with this farm is a miracle. Already, close to $300,000 has been invested in the farm! Now that’s a miracle! And God will continue to use his people with small and large gifts to see this Agriculture Training Center come to life!

 


November 2007

Dear Maoz Partner,

You’ve read in detail about our dream of being a part of revolutionizing one of the poorest nations of the world Burkina Faso.

But you might ask yourself, why are we so committed to this project in AFRICA, of all places!

One reason!  We believe God has placed this on our hearts in order to fulfill His Word “Those who bless Israel will be blessed,” and “I will make Israel a light to the nations.”

In God’s sovereign order, He alone is the one who connected us to Ram Zango and Burkina Faso, and it is His plan for believers there whom He loves as much as anyone else in the world including Jews.

When Ram arrived in Israel a few years ago, bringing thousands of dollars from the poor believing community in Burkina Faso to bless our congregation and others throughout Israel, we were overcome with emotion.  To think that the poorest of the poor would believe God’s Word so strongly that they would give out of their poverty to bless Israel was, to say the least, humbling.

But, we realized that God means what He says...and those acts of obedience to bless Israel were the beginning of a plan to completely revolutionize a country through the believers in that land who took God at His Word.

Then the governments of Israel and Burkina Faso also began communications and strategic alliances. 

And God provided Shlomo, a French speaking Orthodox Jew who is an expert in desert farming and whose heart was drawn to the project to develop a detailed business plan for the training farm.

It just seems God was determined to provide all the pieces of the puzzle that must happen in order for the believers of Burkina Faso to prosper. 

You, our partners, have partnered with us all along this journey... together we have provided funds for equipment, a generator, a vehicle, help with labor, provided airfare for a core group of Burkinabe to be schooled in Israel by agricultural experts, and general financial support for this agricultural project. 

And now, at this critical juncture in the overall project, we want to invest again in this tremendous opportunity to change the economic future of believers in Burkina Faso. 

One of the next critical steps is to connect the Agriculture Training Center to the Ouagadougou electrical grid.  With your help, we want to give light and energy to the farm.  The cost will be $20,000 (£9,800 or €14,100). 

Everything that is received for this project will be sent to Burkina Faso!  There are many other areas of the farm waiting to be developed.  

We will report to you in our January MaozIsrael Report exactly how much we were able to donate to this phase of the project.

This first year the farm will be training a total of 18 farmers (including trainers.)  But there are hundreds of Christian farmers who, we believe, will soon be able to have their chance to study and work at the farm!

You can help us this month to fulfill both promises from scripture by blessing those who have blessed us (Israel) and helping us (Israel) be a light to the nations. 

Yes, we might seem an unlikely choice to bless Burkina Faso, West Africa, but God chose us, and we are ready to obey.  Whatever you give, it certainly will not go unnoticed by our God!
 
For the salvation of Israel, Burkina Faso, and whosoever will!
      
       Ari and Shira Sorko-Ram

P.S.  Few of us have the large sum to purchase the last container of irrigation equipment needed before the course can begin.  But each one of us can give something, and we can all pray that God will provide the $181,500 needed for the irrigation equipment.  God never fails!

DONATE TO THE BURKINA FASO PROJECT

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In this issue:
Another International Peace Conference  |  Africa: What's the Problem?
Ram Zango Dreams a Dream  |  Preparations for the Agriculture Training Center

 

                      Another International Peace Conference:
                            What Will Be the Outcome?

 

 

Monthly Report: November 2007
Cheshvan - Kislev  5768

Click for PDF

  Tiny Israel lies in a sea of Arab Muslim states which in turn are neighbors to many more non-Arab Muslim countries. This map does not include Asian countries such as Indonesia, the most populous Islamic country in the world.


EMAIL THIS PRINT THIS

 

  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
   
  
  
  
By Shira Sorko-Ram

 

 

Are you ready for it? Another Middle East peace conference is about to be held at Annapolis Naval Academy in the middle to late November - or there about. Nobody knows who is going to attend. The Palestinians claim that at least 36 countries will be attending. On the other hand, they are not sure they will be there - unless Israel agrees before hand to a long list of concessions that are existential issues with the State of Israel.  

As one Israeli journalist said, “If peace breaks out between the Israelis and Palestinians at the Annapolis summit, I’ll eat my hat.” (Haaretz 9Oct07)

 

It is good to remind oneself of the core issues - issues that will be at the center of the conference - if, indeed, it takes place. No doubt, God will be looking for His people to bathe that conference in prayer.

What does Israel want to get out of this conference? That the Palestinians stop the terrorism and recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state.

And the Palestinians? What are they demanding? There are three main issues. They are insisting on a Palestinian state that will include:

1. Full control over East Jerusalem, the Old City including the Temple Mount and the Western Wall to be under Palestinian Muslim rule.

2. Right of return of all Palestinian refugees to live within the State of Israel.

3. Israel’s return to her pre-1967 borders  (before the Six Day War), and a hand-over of all the land of Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) and Gaza to the Palestinians as their homeland.

Now let’s analyze the Palestinian demands one at a time.

 

DEMAND ONE: SOVEREIGNTY OVER JERUSALEM

Since the days of Arafat, Palestinian politicians have maintained that the Old City of Jerusalem is 100% Arab, always has been and always will be. However, since 1967, the Old City and East Jerusalem have been under the sovereignty of Israel, although Israel has given over the day-to-day administration of the Temple Mount to the Islamic Trust Wakf to maintain peace.

In advance of the hoped for Arab victory at the conference, the Palestinian Minister for Jerusalem Affairs postures that “a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict necessarily requires the establishment of a Palestinian State with its capital in all of east Jerusalem and any accord short of that will not work.” (Jerusalem Post, 8Oct07)

However, the Israeli public will never permit handing over the Western Wall to the Muslims.

Last year, a study by a liberal Israeli think tank came up with five possible solutions for Jerusalem:

1. Israel would have sovereignty. (But the Palestinians will not agree to that.)

2. The Palestinians would have sovereignty. (The Israelis will not agree to that.)

3. The Old City be physically split into Arab/Jewish sections with international supervision to help monitor and settle disputes. (Very difficult to map out.)

4. An Israeli/Palestinian sharing of power over the Old City with international (U.N.) backing. (Impossibly difficult.)

5. Giving the sovereignty of the historical sites to an “international body,” which would have the authority to delegate powers to both sides as it wished.

The think tank concluded that number five is the preferable and the most realistic option. (Ibid., 8Oct07) In my thinking the only way that any of these solutions could be enforced would be by military power.

Who cannot help but think of Zechariah’s prophetic warning 2500 years ago: And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all the nations of the earth are gathered against it. Zech. 12:3.

At this juncture, the Palestinians will not agree for anyone but themselves to rule the Old City, and Israel will not give up the rights to the Western Wall and the Jewish Quarter. So no agreement will be made. The only chance for some kind of forward move, says former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk, is that the thorny issue of sovereignty be left untouched since there is no solution that will be agreeable to both sides. (Ibid.)

DEMAND TWO: RIGHTS OF PALESTINIAN REFUGEES

Palestinians claim about 750,000 Arabs fled Israel during the Independence War in 1948 (although there are well-documented books on how the U.N. fed and counted any Arab who entered the U.N-run refugee camps from anywhere, stating that it was difficult to verify where the Arabs had come from.)

 

Today, this number has grown to 4.5 million, and the Arab nations have refused to absorb them into their lands, even though they have the same culture, religion and language and are of the same ethnic group. Today, the Palestinians are claiming the right for all children of such refugees to move into Israel proper (not just the West Bank or Gaza.)

The right of return of these Muslims into Israel is a euphemism for flooding the nation with Muslim citizens. Through democratic means of voting in Muslim leaders - just as Hamas was democratically voted into leadership in Gaza - they would be able to eradicate Israel as a Jewish state. It is a nightmare beyond comprehension, as terrorists would overcome the state in a flash.

Determined to promote this plan, a prominent spokesman for Palestinian refugees, Salman Abu Sitta, has sent a letter to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas who will be representing the Palestinians at the Annapolis conference, saying, “What has drawn our attention more than anything is Israel’s attempt to redefine the two-state solution. Israel now
wants mutual recognition - Israel as the national homeland for the Jews and, on what’s left of the land, Palestine as the national homeland of the Palestinians.” (Ibid.)

 

Abu Sitta called on all Arabs to reject this “new formula” since it would mean abandoning the Arab right to all of Palestine and accepting Jewish historical and biblical claims to the land.

Says the Jerusalem Post, “This letter is revealing because it suggests that, for all the previous Palestinian talk of recognizing Israel and the previous ostensible embrace of the ‘two-state solution,’ this never meant either an acceptance of the Jewish right to sovereignty in its ancient land, or even to accepting Israel’s right not to be overwhelmed demographically by Palestinians. (Ibid.)

In short, the Palestinians’ concept of making peace is completely different than that of Israelis, Europeans and Americans, as they understand the word. What Sittu is saying is under the two-state arrangement Palestinians would have their state, and Israel would have its state under the condition that all the Palestinian refugees could come and live there. Any way you read it, it is a formula to destroy the Jewish state.

WHAT ABOUT ISRAELI REFUGEES?

But there is another incredibly important issue that is rarely heard  - and rarely brought up, even by the government of Israel. When the U.N. gave its approval for Israel to become a nation, the wrath of the Arab nations was turned against its own Jewish citizens. The New York Times on May 16, 1948 printed a banner headline, “Jews in Grave Danger in All Moslem Lands. Nine Hundred Thousand in Africa and Asia Face Wrath of Their Foes.”

On January 18, 1948, the president of the World Jewish Congress Dr. Stephen Wise appealed to U.S. Secretary of State George Marshall: “Between 800,000 and a million Jews in the Middle East and North Africa, exclusive of Palestine, are in ‘the greatest danger of destruction’ at the hands of Moslems being incited to holy war over the Partition of Palestine ... Acts of violence already perpetrated, together with those contemplated, being clearly aimed at the total destruction of the Jews, constitute genocide, which under the resolutions of the General Assembly is a crime against humanity.” (http://www.spme.net/cgi-bin/facultyforum.cgi?ID=1139).

Most Jews fled with just the clothes on their back, with the Arab nations appropriating their homes, land and possessions. In all, 800,000 Jewish refugees fled to Israel from Muslim countries, and the just-born nation of about 700,000 Jews absorbed them into the tiny land of
Israel. Not a word of outcry from any international body about the injustice done to these refugees.

All that to say this: Israel will never agree to the return of 4.5 million Muslims into the land of Israel. So demand number two will not be accepted in any way, shape or form.

DEMAND THREE: ISRAEL MUST RETURN TO PRE-1967 BORDERS

When the U.N. General Assembly approved the Partition Plan for creating two states in  Mandatory Palestine on November 29, 1947, exactly 60 years ago, the Jews greeted the resolution with singing and dancing. The Arabs flatly rejected it and went to war against Israel to abort her before she was born.

The surrounding Arab nations continued to war against Israel and in May 1967 President Gamal Abdel Nassar of Egypt boasted “The Arab people is firmly resolved to wipe Israel off the map and to restore the honor of the Arabs of Palestine. The battle will be a general one and our basic objective will be to destroy Israel.” (http://www.sixdaywar.co.uk/)

But Israel made a pre-emptive strike and within six days found herself in control of all the West Bank, the Golan Heights and Gaza.

 

Journalist Yoel Marcus laments that even if moderate Palestinians are prepared to divide the country today between Muslims and Jews, it is with “the condition that they don’t pay a penny for their idiocy, their ineptitude and their crimes, not to mention the Jewish blood they have spilled. They demand that we turn the clock back, that we pay them restitution, that we agree to their right of return, and so on and so on.” (Haaretz 9Oct07)

Furthermore, everyone knows what happened when Israel twice unilaterally withdrew from land (biblically belonging to Israel) - southern Lebanon and Gaza - over the last few years. Today both areas are terrorist territories ruled by Hamas and Hizbullah. From Gaza, Qassam rockets are launched daily into Israel’s southern towns. This last week, larger rockets were launched that hit deeper into Israel’s heartland.

So what can Israel do to start building up trust with her Palestinian neighbors?

The Palestinians say, “Take away the roadblocks. They make life very difficult for us.” Israel answers, “But we are catching many terrorist on their way to Israeli cities.” Yet, hoping against hope, but against the advice of the Israeli army, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has, as a goodfaith
measure, removed several roadblocks.

The Palestinians say, “Release our sons from prison.” Israel responds, “But they are in prison for killing or planning the deaths of innocent Israeli citizens.” Yet, hoping against hope, but against the advice of the Israeli army, several hundred prisoners have been let loose in the last few days. Everyone knows they intend to continue their interrupted work.  

 

The Palestinians say, “Tear down the fence/wall that you have built. It is a great inconvenience for us when we need to visit Israel or other places in the West Bank.” Israel responds, “But have you noticed suicide bombings have dropped to zero since terrorists have a difficult time crossing over to Israel now?”

But have you noticed something? Have you noticed that the Palestinians make no offers to stop terrorism or make any kind of concessions? It seems that few do.

The man that the Americans look to for “the solution” is President Mahmoud Abbas, head of the Fatah militants. Abbas is an extremely weak leader because his government is incorrigibly corrupt and inept - so much so that Hamas was able to win the elections in Gaza on the  promise that they would clean up the corruption. So much for that.

The American Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice believes that because Abbas is so weak, the best thing is for Israel to make as many concessions as possible so that he can be propped up. Ironically, this is exactly the same approach that Arafat used.

 

“In fact,” says commentator Amir Oren, “Abbas is a continuation of Arafat in his exploitation of the power of weakness. The more Abbas is weakened, the more Condoleezza Rice is willing to give him, at Israel’s expense, so he won’t get lost entirely. (Indeed, there is fear in Israel that Hamas will take over the West Bank, just as it did Gaza).

“The result is a shelving of the staged approach at the heart of the [defunct] “road map,” and an agreement to Abbas’ pleas to ignore the milestones [the various phases of the Palestinians proving they are keeping their word] and to skip verbally to the third and last stage [when the Palestinian state will be established].”

“The road map is actually a game of truth or consequences,” says Oren. “Each side in its turn will reveal its position and will carry out moves on the ground to advance the bargaining toward its final aim…

“It would be encouraging, were it not for the dangerous gap between the great expectations and the helplessness of Abbas and of his prime minister, Salam Fayad, a good guy and a talented economist…[but] not a national leader for a crucial period.” (Haaretz, 25Sept07)

 

“I find it hard,” says columnist Yoel Marcus, “ to imagine Abu Mazen [Abbas] putting his foot down in Gaza, halting terror, dissolving the terrorist organizations and ending the Qassam rocket fire.” (Haaretz 9Oct07)

Then too, Prime Minister Olmert is himself in a very weak position and must pacify his right-wing parties in his coalition to stay in power. To protect his own rear guard, he has duly promised them that he will not withdraw from any West Bank land (Judea and Samaria) unless Palestinian terrorism is stopped. (Ibid.) But terror hasn’t stopped in forty years, and none of the terrorists are promising they’re going to stop now.

But let’s imagine that terrorism did stop. Can you imagine Olmert moving 250,000 Israelis out of the West Bank? Even if somehow he were to make an agreement with the Palestinians to keep the larger towns in the West Bank and exchange them for land in Galilee where there are Arab towns, he would still have to move many thousands of Israelis out of their homes spread across mountains of Judea and Samaria in small villages.

Here is the reality. The nation was traumatized when 16,000 Israelis were forced out of Gaza, and most of those who were evacuated a year and a half ago are still in temporary housing, without jobs, and don’t know if they will ever have the chance to regain their livelihood. I can’t imagine how any prime minister in Israel could pull that off in the West Bank and stay in office. Israel, they say, is a bone in their throat.

So why is Israel still so keen to create a Palestinian state? Israel’s leaders feel that the longer the world sees the Jewish state as occupiers, the more the western world will turn against her. Today there is no other democratic country that rules another people except Israel.

Do you want to know how the majority of Israeli people really feel? They wish - “if only the Arabs would stop the terrorism and recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state… we would give them a state on a silver platter.” And if Israelis really thought there would be genuine peace, then the whole nation would rise up and make incredible sacrifices….

But the Israeli people have little hope that Arab Muslims will make peace with Israel no matter what she does. Israel understands that is simply “against their religion.” The Jewish people know that Muslims believe they will one day conquer the world - and that can’t be done without first disposing of Israel.

Senior Defense Ministry officials said it is likely that Israel would not be able to deliver what the Palestinians are demanding and, as a result, the summit could fail even before it begins.

According to journalist Yaakov Katz, the Europeans have also begun to acknowledge this possibility and are pressuring the U.S. to hold the summit “no matter what” so as not to appear to fail in the face of the world and particularly Hamas in the Gaza Strip. (Ibid., 5Oct07) No doubt, the U.S. and Europe will use every persuasive tool available to them to get Israel and the Palestinians to the negotiating table where arms will be twisted.

Opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu, who is completely against the conference and the concessions Olmert says he is planning to offer, has lashed out at the government’s policy. Giving Hamas half of Jerusalem will make the rest of Jerusalem unlivable, “ Netanyahu said. “Giving up Judea and Samaria will transfer the areas controlling the coastal plain into the hands of Hamas, leading to Qassams…on Tel Aviv.”

Netanyahu claims that Israel is placing all its cards on the table, a move that only causes the Palestinians to pressure Israel to continue making more concessions. “Olmert will place Hamas men on the walls of Jerusalem,” he warned. “Jerusalem will fast become a pilgrimage site for terrorists from all over the world.” (Ibid., 8Oct07)

There is now much talk by Palestinians and Israelis about a third intifada if the conference fails.
Hopefully, we are not in for another round of war and terror. But for sure we are not going to have a peace agreement.

Yet... all the Palestinians have to do is just stop the terror! But, say the Palestinians, “Why should we? We are winning.”

I will gather all nations…
There I will enter into judgment against them
Concerning my inheritance, my people Israel,
For they scattered my people among the nations
And divided up my land.   Joel 3:2

Yes, this is a dangerous time for the U.S. God has made his will known concerning the Land
belonging to Israel:

Surely I have spoken in My burning jealousy against the rest of the nations and against all Edom, who gave My land to themselves as a possession, with wholehearted joy and spiteful minds, in order to plunder its open country. Ezekiel 36:5

Prayer is a powerful weapon against the intentions of the evil one. Keep alert to the unfolding of this conference.

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Africa: What's the Problem?
By Shira Sorko-Ram

Burkina Faso. Here we go again! Praying and working toward seeing the “impossible” - believing that God has planted deep in our hearts the vision to help pull the third poorest country in the whole world out of its poverty!

Across the middle of Africa are many of the world’s poorest nations. Twenty-five nations below the Sahara desert have the curse of stagnated economies - with their people getting poorer and hungrier every year.

This reality must be integrated with the fact that over the last two decades so many billions in aid have been given to Africa that no one seems to know just how much - the low estimates are $200 billion! Western countries have promised $25 billion, each year over the next ten years.

Yet, of the approximate billion people on earth that suffer from malnutrition, half live in the sub-Sahara nations. And, according to the 2005 U.N. Human Development Report, 15 of the 31 countries at the bottom of economic development, and which the U.N. labels “Low Human Development,” are French-speaking African countries.

Burkina Faso, French speaking, land locked, with few natural resources, is third from the bottom - just above Sierra Leon which was destroyed by an unimaginable 10-year war fought by thousands of child soldiers. The poorest of all countries is Burkina’s French-speaking neighbor,
Niger.

The world famous economist, Jeffrey Sachs, states, “The idea that African failure is due to African poor governance is one of the great myths of our time. They can’t get out of the hole on their own. If we don’t take a different approach, we will not only see certain collapse; we will see a catastrophic downward spiral of violence.” (New York Times 7Nov.04)

While the great thinkers try to figure out what to do, we believe God has given us a practical plan to help the country of Burkina Faso out of their poverty! Perhaps this sounds like “chutzpah,” but there is a key that Sachs and the world thinkers have never thought of. Let me explain.

DEVELOPING THE PLAN

We sat down during the High Holidays in Israel with Ram Zango, a strong and respected spiritual leader in Burkina Faso and Shlomo Sasson, our Israeli agriculture expert, an Orthodox Jew, who has already spent one year in Burkina working on the project now called West Africa Initiative. (check the website http://www.westafricainitiative.org/!)

Shlomo outlined the challenges and the opportunities in this land of 13,500,000 souls living in an area the size of Colorado. According to the same U.N. report the average Burkinabe makes $345.00 per year, slightly less than $1.00 a day, though his estimated buying power is about $3.20 per day. About 86% of the population are farmers. This kind of wage equals poverty, poverty, poverty.

 

The land in Burkina Faso lies fallow during the dry season seven or eight months of the year.

 

In practical terms this means during the rainy season (if there is not drought) they grow food for about four months. They store what they grow in make-shift mud huts, and hope that the food will last until the next rainy season. Only three out of four children make it past their fifth birthday.

SO WHAT IS THE ROT PROBLEM?

Are the Burkinabe people lazy? Actually Burkinabe have the reputation in Africa of being hard workers. Other countries like to hire them because of their industrious nature.

Is there not enough water? Believe it or not, different nations around the world have funded a number of dams throughout the country, thereby making available considerable amounts of water for farming.

Is there a lack of arable land? There is much undeveloped land which could be used for agriculture, but now lies dormant.

Then, if there is land, water and people who are industrious and willing to work, what is the problem?

One word. Knowledge. There is an extreme lack of agriculture know-how on the most basic level. We asked Shlomo to give us examples of ineffective farming and here are his comments.

Today, except for very few exceptions, Burkina Faso has two methods of irrigation. The first is with a bucket. The second is “flooding” where the water runs by gravity from one of the dams and actually floods the land. Those living near a lake can thus “irrigate” their crops. But this method is devastating to the land and over time will literally destroy its capacity to produce.

The type of soil in Burkina is predominately clay and has a very slow rate of water absorption. So when the soil is flooded and fertilizers have been applied, most of the water evaporates leaving the majority of the fertilizer on the top soil in the form of salts. (Almost all year around there is extreme heat 95° - 100°, which can even reach 115°). This leaves the soils increasingly unusable and crop productivity decreases by the year.

 

Local Burkinabe pastors in Northern Burkina asked Ari, together with Ram Zango, to pray that a Christian agriculture community would be established there. A new dam has been built by foreign government funds, but the adjacent land has not been cultivated because of lack of irrigation know-how. The government has offered free land for an Agriculture Training Center.

 

As the land becomes less fertile, the farmers, not knowing why, try, if possible, to add extra land to keep their productivity up, but continue to use the same methods. Of course they are simply creating more saline soils. But what can they do? Up until now they have known no other alternative to water their fields.

Shlomo explained to us that the Burkinabe farmers (and farmers of other surrounding French-speaking countries) do not know…

- how much water to use for different crops
- which type of fertilizer to use for which crop
- when to apply the fertilizer
- how to identify diseases or insects
- how to prepare the soil according to the requirements of a specific plant.

They have no expertise in modern irrigation methods - even the most basic techniques are unknown to them.

Has the Burkinabe government not tried to help its farmers? The answer is, as much as they could. But a number of Israeli agriculture experts have told us that all over the developing countries, when governments try to develop a project, it fails as soon as the experts leave. Employees paid by the government to farm, whether they are local overseers or workers, lack the resourcefulness to produce maximally; they are paid the same amount regardless of the productivity. And government agencies everywhere inherently have deep pockets that gobble up the funds no matter how good their intentions are.

THERE IS AN ANSWER!

But here is the key to bring agriculture success to Burkina Faso, so obvious, but so hidden from the world! According to pastors in Burkina Faso, the number of Evangelicals there has reached about 10% of the population - around 1,300,000 believers. Charisma magazine in the January 2005 issue noted that Burkina has one of the fastest growing churches on the globe.

The work ethic and character of born-again Christians as a whole is on a completely different level than that of those without a relationship with the God of the Bible.

It is for these evangelical farmers that Ram Zango and Shlomo Sasson are creating a model Agriculture Training Farm near the capital of Ouagadougou. 

 

On this farm selected Christian farmers will be taught in a one-year program to grow fine quality produce and much higher yields. They will learn how to…

- grow and transplant seedlings to the field
- fertilize properly
- treat plant diseases and pests
- know when to plant and know what to plant
- market their produce and package it
- incorporate modern techniques for rain-fed farming
- use irrigation techniques, and much more.


Shlomo Sason teaches his future overseers

 

Their time of study and work in the Agriculture Training Center will give them two and a half cycles of planting and harvesting experience.

The farmer will then be able to cultivate his own property with his new skills. A trainer working under the supervision of Shlomo will be overseeing the farmer for five years. After that, he will be on his own and will be producing up to four or five times (depending on the crop) what he was able to do without the know-how. And the crops will be of a quality not yet seen in Burkina Faso!

To enable the farmer to use his new technology, he will receive an interest-free loan to buy basic irrigation equipment and farming tools; he will pay back 20% of the loan a year, over a five year period. The Agriculture Training Center will market the crops and deduct the loan repayment from his profits.

Since farmers usually own only an acre or two, the cost of outfitting them in irrigation equipment will not be impossible to fund as organizations see what these farmers are able
to produce.

Shlomo estimates that for each acre a farmer could make a profit of around $4,000 a year! Instead of $345! That is a revolution!

Already there are secular funding organizations that have shown interest in the program, but we must get the first crops planted and harvested so they can see the viability of investing in this program.

Even in Burkina’s great poverty, Ram Zango believes the blessing of God is already being manifested in his land:

 


Shlomo Meets with Agriculture Ministry Officials

- Unlike so much of Africa, there are no wars in Burkina!

- Even though half of the Burkinabe people are Muslim, they are not of the aggressive type, and there is no persecution against the Christians.

- The 30% who are pagan are being reached through the message of salvation and many miracles.

- Many Burkinabe Catholics have been touched by the Charismatic movement and have heard Reinhardt Bonke preach and thus understand Biblical salvation.

 

- The government authorities are benign and the President is Catholic. They are thoroughly behind Ram Zango and the West Africa Initiative. The government has given the land for the program, and has promised as much land throughout the country the program can use for the future. It has given WAI rights to bring in all the farming equipment needed tax free.

God has prepared this little country, among the poorest in the world, to be a light. By training the Christians farming techniques perfected in Israel, we see the possibility of economic revolution in the country - with the Christians leading the way!

Shlomo exclaims passionately, “Imagine if we are able to establish 10 centers throughout Burkina, what impact this will have on the national economy! What it will do to break the back of the omnipresent poverty!”

But there is more! There are no less than 18 Frenchspeaking countries in Africa. A strengthened and prosperous French-speaking Christian church in Burkina Faso, a living example of what the power of the God of Israel can do, has a vast mission field of Muslims and pagans it can reach. A mission field that is one of the least reachable by the English-speaking West because of the language barrier!

Who but God could think of such a plan!

For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
And do not return there without watering the earth,
And making it bear and sprout,
And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater;
So shall My word be which goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me empty,
Without accomplishing what I desire,
And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.
Isaiah 55:9-11

I will bless those who bless you.

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Ram Zango Dreams a Dream

 

In 2002, Maoz Israel Ministries received an incredible offering of over $4,000 from believers in the West African country of Burkina Faso, the third poorest country in the world, according to U.N. Human Development Report of 2005. The believers sent the offering after being taught by local Minister Ram Zango that if they would bless Israel God had promised to bless them.

After traveling to Burkina Faso, we, in cooperation with Gateway Church in Southlake, Texas, began a program that would create a model Agriculture Training Center where the Christian farmers of Burkina Faso would be taught Israeli agriculture technology for desert and semi-desert farming.

This year Maoz contributors have enabled us to send $5,000 per month for the project, plus we were able to purchase a badly needed pickup truck. Though the beginning of this program is small, it ultimately has the possibility of raising the standard of living for the farmers that would be revolutionary. It has caught the attention of Burkina’s Prime Minister who told Gateway representatives that he is behind us because of our vision to serve and empower the people of Burkina Faso to become self sufficient.

The model Agriculture Training Center with its first 45 acres is located in an ideal  area (for marketing purposes) near Ouagadougou the capital. We are now edging closer to getting the Center up and running in the next couple of months.

 

 

Preparations for the Agriculture Training Center

 

What has already been done over the last 12 months?

1. Ram Zango, together with Maoz and Gateway Church, commissioned Shlomo Sasson to prepare a master plan for creating a model Agriculture Training Center in Burkina Faso to train Christian farmers the techniques necessary for modern farming.

2. Shlomo visited many areas in Burkina, spoke with farmers, met with Ministry of Agriculture officials and research workers, and visited market places and local distributors of agriculture produce.

3. After gathering all the required information, Ram and Shlomo met together with Ari and Shira and Maoz’ Israeli accountant, Itsik Issan, and brainstormed, detecting and dissecting the core problems in Burkina and crystallizing the ideas that would be the appropriate solutions in the formulation of the project.

4. Shlomo drew up a master plan, and again there was another meeting in Israel to discuss every aspect of the program, sharpening and refining the plan.

6. Meanwhile Ram and Shlomo met often with the Burkinabe Agriculture Minister and other government officials, and a delegation from Gateway met together with Prime Minister Tertius Zongo. The Agriculture Training Center was made an official project with approval and backing of the Burkinabe government with many benefits such as free land and tax free imports.

7. The Israeli government has also extended its hand to help with the project and will be sending Israeli farming experts in specific areas to give seminars to the farmers selected for training.

8. Several different pieces of property were offered by the Burkinabe government. A decision was made on the optimal location for the project site. Land acquisition was made and the physical planning of the project site undertaken.

9. Meanwhile, Shlomo, who is not only a very experienced technical agriculturalist, but a fantastic teacher, began training five future trainers (overseers) in Burkina.

10. Maoz provided airfare for several Burkinabe managers/trainees to Israel to take courses of two to four weeks offered by the Israeli government to introduce them to hi-tech agriculture concepts and the possibilities for much higher productivity.

11. The land was cleared and leveled. An existing small water reservoir was deepened and inner roads were built. A “precrop” was sown to create “green manure” (in order to enrich the soil with nitrogen and organic matter).

13. Shlomo shopped on four continents for the best prices and products for the project’s needs. He bought drip lines from Italy, tractor and farm machinery from USA, nursery structure from Burkina Faso. As money is received for the last container needed, he will buy pumps, filters, and irrigation main pipes from Israel and Ghana.

14. At this moment, Shlomo is building the nursery installation for the seedlings.

Within the next few weeks, as funds become available, the following will be done:

A. An electrical power line will be connected to the farm. B. Water connection will be made. C. A pumping station installed. D. The farming equipment in the first two containers will shortly arrive. E. Preliminary storage facilities will be built using 40 foot containers. F. An elevated water tank will be installed for the nursery and basic logistical center.

We already have $35,000 of the $108,000 needed for the above. The program’s last hurdle will be to purchase a container of irrigation equipment. The cost is $181,500. And then we will be up and running!

Shlomo estimates that in the first year of crops the farm will clear $300,000 with the sale of the produce! This money will be used to expand the logistics center, storage space, the fencing,
different types of greenhouses - which will enable the farm to teach further techniques - and the oxygenizers for the water reservoir that will be used as a commercial fish pond.

Everything that has happened with this farm is a miracle. Already, close to $300,000 has been invested in the farm! Now that’s a miracle! And God will continue to use his people with small and large gifts to see this Agriculture Training Center come to life!

 


November 2007

Dear Maoz Partner,

You’ve read in detail about our dream of being a part of revolutionizing one of the poorest nations of the world Burkina Faso.

But you might ask yourself, why are we so committed to this project in AFRICA, of all places!

One reason!  We believe God has placed this on our hearts in order to fulfill His Word “Those who bless Israel will be blessed,” and “I will make Israel a light to the nations.”

In God’s sovereign order, He alone is the one who connected us to Ram Zango and Burkina Faso, and it is His plan for believers there whom He loves as much as anyone else in the world including Jews.

When Ram arrived in Israel a few years ago, bringing thousands of dollars from the poor believing community in Burkina Faso to bless our congregation and others throughout Israel, we were overcome with emotion.  To think that the poorest of the poor would believe God’s Word so strongly that they would give out of their poverty to bless Israel was, to say the least, humbling.

But, we realized that God means what He says...and those acts of obedience to bless Israel were the beginning of a plan to completely revolutionize a country through the believers in that land who took God at His Word.

Then the governments of Israel and Burkina Faso also began communications and strategic alliances. 

And God provided Shlomo, a French speaking Orthodox Jew who is an expert in desert farming and whose heart was drawn to the project to develop a detailed business plan for the training farm.

It just seems God was determined to provide all the pieces of the puzzle that must happen in order for the believers of Burkina Faso to prosper. 

You, our partners, have partnered with us all along this journey... together we have provided funds for equipment, a generator, a vehicle, help with labor, provided airfare for a core group of Burkinabe to be schooled in Israel by agricultural experts, and general financial support for this agricultural project. 

And now, at this critical juncture in the overall project, we want to invest again in this tremendous opportunity to change the economic future of believers in Burkina Faso. 

One of the next critical steps is to connect the Agriculture Training Center to the Ouagadougou electrical grid.  With your help, we want to give light and energy to the farm.  The cost will be $20,000 (£9,800 or €14,100). 

Everything that is received for this project will be sent to Burkina Faso!  There are many other areas of the farm waiting to be developed.  

We will report to you in our January MaozIsrael Report exactly how much we were able to donate to this phase of the project.

This first year the farm will be training a total of 18 farmers (including trainers.)  But there are hundreds of Christian farmers who, we believe, will soon be able to have their chance to study and work at the farm!

You can help us this month to fulfill both promises from scripture by blessing those who have blessed us (Israel) and helping us (Israel) be a light to the nations. 

Yes, we might seem an unlikely choice to bless Burkina Faso, West Africa, but God chose us, and we are ready to obey.  Whatever you give, it certainly will not go unnoticed by our God!
 
For the salvation of Israel, Burkina Faso, and whosoever will!
      
       Ari and Shira Sorko-Ram

P.S.  Few of us have the large sum to purchase the last container of irrigation equipment needed before the course can begin.  But each one of us can give something, and we can all pray that God will provide the $181,500 needed for the irrigation equipment.  God never fails!

DONATE TO THE BURKINA FASO PROJECT

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