Mike Cooley

Mike Cooley with some of the children in Sierra Leonne.

After several years in finance and hospital administration, God called St. Luke native Michael Cooley to a different vocation. He is nearly finished with his master’s degree in Agroforestry from the University of Missouri and has advised numerous landowners up and down the valley regarding the best use of their land and resources.

In the process of seeking God’s will, Michael was miraculously led to Equipping Leaders International, which provides training for indigenous pastors, many of whom have no theological underpinnings. His work with ELI, however, is not limited to Biblical teaching as his agricultural experience is now in high demand throughout Africa, India, Myanmar, and beyond.

In 2019, at the request of a local pastor in Sierra Leone, Michael traveled to this tiny African country. There he found abject poverty, soaring infant mortality, and a life expectancy of only 52. After some research, he discovered that the two main culprits for many of their problems are poor nutrition and contaminated water.

Using his agricultural knowledge, Michael developed plans to plant and cultivate trees and crops to increase both their nutrient intake and their income. His God-directed work has already improved the health of many through the cultivation of what could be termed the “miracle tree,” moringa. The leaves of this tree are extremely high in both protein and vitamins and are now supplementing their diets with immediate benefits.

Michael is also researching opportunities to drill a well that would provide clean water and prevent the high incidence of typhoid that weakens and even kills. As of this writing, the local pastor’s pregnant wife is struggling with both Typhoid fever and malaria and may lose her baby before it is born. Please pray for them.

While in Sierra Leone, he also helped present local pastors with complete Study Bibles in their own language. Michael described it as a room full of little girls who had each been presented with a pony. These new Bibles evoked squeals, dances, and great joy from their new owners. We take so much for granted.

One of the stories Michael shared reminded me of what happens to many American Christians. When he inquired as to why there were so few infants and toddlers he learned that the mother’s milk often dries up due to malnutrition. Because there is no formula or any other option available, the young children die or are weakened to the point where other maladies like common diarrhea claim their lives. Amazingly, milk often returns for these mothers if proper nutrition is provided in a timely fashion benefiting both mother and child.

This scenario reminded me of Christians who fail to read, hear, or study God’s word. Without proper spiritual nutrition, we are weakened and become susceptible to false teachings and clever lies. Sadly, we founder or perish spiritually due to our willful neglect of perfect sustenance that is freely available.

The good news is that this condition can also be easily reversed. 1 Peter 2:2-3 tells us, “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.” If you’ve found yourself neglecting God’s Word and solid Biblical teaching, return to the table where it is liberally accessible.

Obviously, Michael invites your prayers for his return trips later this year and he also welcomes your financial support if the Lord so leads. His ministry is completely dependent on individuals and churches partnering with him. You can find out more about his ministry at narrowpassagepermaculture.com where you can also contribute to his ministry. In addition, he is available to speak to churches and groups about this godly work, which he will do this Sunday at Antioch at 9:45 a.m. All are welcome.

We have so much to be thankful for in America and we have an obligation to share with others. May God bless us and Michael as we do so. In Jesus, George

George Bowers Sr. is the senior pastor of Antioch Church of the Brethren and has authored 13 books, including his latest, “Valley Verses Volume V.” He can be reached through www.georgebowersministries.com or at gabowers@shentel.net.

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