Recently I toured the Global Demonstration Farm of ECHO in the vicinity of North Fort Myers. Being here was one of the most exciting experiences I have had in Florida. We are fortunate to have ECHO in Florida and to be able to give it our support.
ECHO (Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization) is an nondenominational Christian ministry devoted to providing innovative, but simple and practical solutions to the problems of the poor. ECHO provides practical ideas, conferences, and training for development workers and missionaries around the world.
ECHO is an unusual ministry. It is led by persons with the highest academic credentials in their scientific disciplines, but it is focused upon discovering and propagating information about seeds, plants, and techniques which will enable people with few resources to improve their well-being.
Touring its Global Demonstration Farm is the best way to begin to understand how this ministry is changing the lives of poor people around the world. The farm is a demonstration of how people can plant perrenial plants which will be a continual source of food for their families and animals. They specialize in promoting particular species of trees and plants which have anti-bacterial or nutrional qualities which are extremely valuable in places where there is not enough food or medicine. They have models of inexpensive, but effective technologies which can be used in irrigation and farming. To learn more about ECHO, you can visit its website www.echonet.org.
Over one hundred congregations in our conference provide financial support for ECHO, which is listed as an Advance Special of The United Methodist Church. I want to commend these congregations for their support for this ministry. I cannot think of a better investment in the long-term cause of eradicating extreme poverty around the world. If you are unaware of this ministry, I encourage you to learn about it , and to arrange to tour the Global Demonstration Farm.
I think there are opportunities for learning from ECHO as part of our relationship with the people in Angola, Cuba, and Haiti. For example, our conference could sponsor someone from one of these countries to participate in a learning program for three months so that he or she could return home to teach locals the ideas and skills which would improve people's quality of life.
The 2012 General Conference will be held in Tampa. Delegates will be coming from around the world. It is my hope that some of them will have an opportunity to learn about ECHO so that they can return home to make their governments and churches aware of this remarkable resource here in Florida.