Faith as big as a canola crop
This drought-affected Aussie farmer is seeing the supernatural
In a drought-ravaged paddock in Central West NSW, 37-year-old farmer Jarrod Amery is witnessing a miracle. A luscious crop of green canola plants is bursting from the dry, dusty ground in which seeds were planted just over four weeks ago. It’s the only such crop in the local area.
“We were standing out there last night and thinking this is a miracle; we’re standing in a miracle! I’m just so excited about this,” Amery laughs incredulously. “It is unbelievable, amazing, just incredible!”
What’s even more remarkable is the supernatural way this crop came into being. Amery – who lives on a 6500-hectare farm 27 kilometres outside the town of Forbes with his wife Emma and their six kids – tells Eternity about this leap of faith.
“This might sound a bit unusual, but I said to God, ‘I want to be more of a supernatural farmer. I want to do things that are just out there,’ … not to big-note my name but to show people that God is so real and he’s so incredible …
“And six weeks ago I had this dream – I’ve never had anything like this happen before – I had this dream of this crop of canola and it looked unbelievable. I could see where I was. I knew which paddock I was in on the farm …
“One of the things that I’m learning about this drought, is just to trust God.” – Jarrod Amery
“I was telling my wife about this and I was thinking about it, and we decided that this is what God put in my mind, this dream. So we went out and bought canola seed – it cost $36,000 for the seed – and we sowed it into dry dirt. We just sowed in faith … I said to God, ‘You know, God, this could turn real bad if you don’t do something here.'”
He adds, sincerely, “This is one of the things that I’m learning about this drought, is just to trust God. We serve an extraordinary God who wants to do extraordinary things.”
Amery is a fifth-generation farmer who has had to “work me butt off” to purchase the large property where he runs 3000 sheep and also grows wheat, barley and, now, canola. He is the ultimate rural enthusiast. “I’m super-passionate about the country,” he says, noting that the life on the land is “really, really good” for teaching his kids a strong work ethic, as well as allowing some time for campfires, late-night tractor rides and “all kinds of farm things.”
Not surprisingly, Amery is also a man of faith, having grown up in a Christian household and given his life to Christ at the age of eight. His family now attends the Pentecostal Generocity Church in Forbes. So another aspect of country life that Amery particularly enjoys is the way it connects him to God.
“There’s a faith about owning a farm, about believing that God’s going to send the rain and just being grateful for all the good things that he sends our way on our land.”
“I’ve got to work hard and do my bit and then God does his bit as well. We work in a partnership.” – Jarrod Amery
After a morning jog, Amery begins each day by spending “a bit of time reading my Bible and talking to God about all the good things that are happening on the farm and the things that aren’t so good …
“I’ve got to do my part – I’ve got to work hard and do my bit and then God does his bit as well. We work in a partnership.”
Amery’s faith has given him a buffer against the full impact of the drought that still grips large parts of NSW and areas of other states. While he notes there have been worse droughts – in 1982 and 1944 – Amery admits this one is bad. His own business “has gone backwards” and they have spent the past couple of years in debt.
“It affects people’s morale; people get pretty down, especially when you are feeding animals. Every farmer wants to look after the animals as best you can. We’re spending a thousand dollars a day feeding our animals, and other people might be spending five or ten thousand dollars a day without knowing when the rain’s going to come to enable them to stop feeding …
“I often ring our neighbours just to check in and see how they’re going because everyone seems to go not too bad when things are good but when things get difficult, like they have been, especially when people don’t know God and don’t understand who God is, it gets pretty hard. Even when you do know God we have big challenges at times.”
The Amerys have also used other opportunities created by the drought to connect with people. In August last year they hosted a barbecue for all neighbours within a 15-kilometre radius and gave each family an Anglicare hamper filled with goods.
“I gave a talk for about five minutes about positive things and things that are good for our mental health and our wellbeing. It was a really good thing to do … because our communities out here aren’t quite as tight-knit as they used to be,” Amery explains. He has also been able to pray with a neighbour in need, who was deeply touched by this care.
“The times in my life when I’ve grown the most have been when the weather’s at its worst.” – Jarrod Amery
For Amery personally, the drought has only served to strengthen his faith.
“The times in my life when I’ve grown the most have been when the weather’s at its worst,” he says. “It’s surprised me how little you grow when the conditions, or the surroundings you are in, are good. When things get tough, you’re either going to grow more or you’re going to just sink into a hole. I can tell you that I’ve had some really tough times and shed a few tears at times but my biggest question is, ‘God, what do you want to show me?’
“It’s amazing what God shows you. It’s amazing that you don’t know sometimes what he’s asking until you get squeezed. I think … we get too comfortable. In difficult times on the farm, sometimes you get challenged to go about things a different way …
“In every negative, there always seems to be something positive to get out of it, and it’s just a matter of looking for those things … Just to keep pressing in to God and keepin’ on keeping on going.”
And so, as he looks to the future, Amery is anticipating “good times ahead.”
“I anticipate good profits, and giving some of those profits away because Emma and I love to bless others – being blessed to be a blessing.”