Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A Heart to Help - the Tilapia Project begins - January 2009

About three years ago, I was looking for a way to serve. I had several friends with YWAM (Youth With A Mission), a missions organization based here in Tyler, and they suggested a short term medical missions trip. Before I knew it I was all set to go to Cambodia on my first medical missions trip with YWAM Mercy Reserves. Unfortunately the trip was canceled at the last moment due to unavailability of the doctors who were planning on making the trip. I was saddened that my first mission trip failed to leave the ground, but the experience of communicating a need to friends and family, and then seeing God provide through you was a true faith builder. After that experience, I continued my search for a way to serve. I was praying and asking God what my place in His plan was. I asked Him how I could serve Him instead of myself. I found the YWAM website and started looking at their many bases around the world. One base in particular caught my attention. This YWAM base in the Cook Islands of the South Pacific listed aquaculture as one of their needs. I was excited! This was right up my alley – almost. Yes, I am an aquatic biologist, but I had never raised fish in anything but an aquarium before. I began investigating fish culture and the techniques and fish that might be most useful around the world. It was a lot more difficult than I thought it would be! One of the biggest roadblocks I faced was my own lack of experience. How could I instruct someone how to grow fish if I had never done it? At that time it was a roadblock that I could not see how to overcome.

Quite a bit has happened in my life since that time. My bride Debra and I were married on April 14th, 2007. Nine months later we were blessed with beautiful Emma. Now Emma is one year old, walking, and talking (well, sort of talking J ). Over the past year and a half, Debra and I have both been increasingly searching for ways to serve in ministry again. And now, three years after the initial idea, the roadblocks seem to have disappeared!

In December 2008 we presented a proposal to the directors of the YWAM base in Tyler that would allow me to gain experience in tilapia culture. They have given permission to construct three small ponds on the YWAM base for the purpose of finding a low cost way to produce tilapia in remote areas of the world. The fruits (or fish) of the research will provide fish to feed the YWAM base. Ultimately we hope to be able to put together a guide to help missionaries around the world supplement their protein needs and gain valuable inroads into the communities that they serve by producing tilapia. In the long term, I would go on short mission trips to interested ministries around the world to help implement and shape their own tilapia projects. We already have a friend working with Mercy Ships who is interested in starting a project in the Dominican Republic! The possibilities are without end as long as there are hungry people in the world.

Work has already begun! YWAM has graciously allowed us to use their backhoe to construct the ponds. With the help of my friend, Clint Wright, one pond is already finished. We hope to have the remaining two ponds finished soon in order to fill up for summer with the spring rains.

The outreach will cost each of us about $3000 (around $1750 will go to the Airlines). At this time I am seeking partners to help me with these expenses and to join me in prayer for a fruitful and safe outreach. One hundred percent of the funds raised will go towards the outreach. Any extra funds raised will be donated to this Cambodia mission. Will you please pray and ask God what He would have you give?

  • (3) small ponds, each approximately 50 feet in diameter

  • (800) tilapia fingerlings, 1 to 2 inch fish, $200

  • (1) 50 foot seine, ¼ to ½ inch mesh, $200

  • (2) large dip nets, $50 each

  • (2) large coolers, $50 each

  • Commercial floating fish food, $16 per 50 lb bag

  • Automatic feeder, $100

  • Weighing scale, $50

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