Faith Like Potatoes’ is certainly one of the best faith-building books ever written. It targets people from all age groups, social groups, backgrounds and cultures. It has already been responsible for countless people committing their lives to the Lord, and those who have been Christians for many years are challenged to increase their faith. It is the story of a humble farmer, our very own Angus Buchan. A story so dynamic and powerful that it has sold more than 25 000 copies todate and has just been updated and relaunched. Furthermore it has just been made into a big screen movie. This will be released in October (2006).
What makes Angus’ story such an inspiration? Quite simply, it makes you consider your own life. It inspires you to be a better person, to believe more, to have unwavering faith in the power of God. Many readers have travelled from all over the world to Angus’ farm to meet him. One such a person, David Harper, a farmer from Worcestershire in England, read the book on a plane to Uganda. When he finished the book, he changed his flight home to stop over in Kwa-Zulu Natal to meet with Angus. He is now making the same massive impact in England among the farmers and has arranged various campaigns in Europe where Angus has preached.
The title ‘Faith Like Potatoes’ came from a famous American lecturer who used to tell his students that they needed faith like potatoes. He meant that their faith needed to have flesh and needed substance. As Hebrews 11:1 says, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not yet seen.” Angus Buchan not only had faith like potatoes, he had faith for potatoes as well.
Angus, not a university graduate, public speaker or celebrity, but a farmer, managed to gather a crowd of 35 000 people into a stadium in Durban one year to hear him speak and to join in prayer for rain. The El Nino drought of the late nineties had resulted in complete devastation for local farmers, coupled with that they were worn out from having to deal with violence on a daily basis. Farm murders had become common place and people were afraid for their lives. They were desperate and needed a miracle. Angus looked at the mix of black and white faces in the crowd, then uttered: “To hell with El Nino! We are going to plant this year! And we are going to plant potatoes.”
Scientists had warned the farmers not to plant that season unless they had irrigation and Angus knew very well that he didn’t have irrigation.Planting potatoes would be a massive risk. Traditionally he was a maize and cattle farmer.Nevertheless he prayed and prayed and He knew that the Lord wanted him to plant potatoes. He went back to his farm, hired two extra farms and planted potatoes in the dust. If the crop failed he would have lost everything that he had.
On the back of the first edition of ‘Faith like Potatoes’ is a quote that reads: “The condition for a miracle is difficulty, however the condition for a great miracle is not difficulty, but impossibility.”
Angus clearly expected a miracle.
Angus is from Scottish decent and is by nature a very fiery character. Before he came to know Jesus, he was very aggressive and tried to do everything himself. This caused him to clash often with his farm workers, especially Simeon Benghu, his foreman. What made matters worse was the fact that he had been forced to sell his farm in Zambia at a ridiculously low price and when he got to South Africa he had very little money to buy a farm. They eventually purchased a farm without a house and had to live in a caravan for several months. Jill was 6 months pregnant and they already had three other young children. In addition to the cramped living quarters, there was no running water on the farm.
The farm workers at Shalom soon named Angus, ‘Nkosaan Italiaan’, because they said he looked and behaved like a mad Italian. They used to laugh and mock Angus, saying that they were convinced he would leave the farm in a couple of months. That was in 1978. Now, nearly 30 years later, the Buchans still farm at Shalom.
The change in Angus came when he gave his life, his heart, his family and his farm to Jesus during a church service at the Greytown Methodist Church. He decided to take God at His Word and to trust Him in everything. Soon, with the same fiery passion with which he farmed, Angus began to tell people just how God had changed his life. This new faith in Jesus did not make life any easier, but it did give him peace beyond understanding and it assisted him to make sense of life.
What is very striking in the story is the contrast between the miracles and the hardships that seemed to happen. The first miracle came soon after his conversion when he, Simeon and the workers were burning some brush wood on the farm. A gust of wind suddenly blew the flames into the Lion Match Plantation and Angus knew that he could be taken to court if he caused a fire that burnt down someone else’s plantation. He called Simeon over and told him that they needed to pray for rain. Simeon said that it was the dry season and there are no clouds around. Angus went ahead and simply asked for rain. Within an hour it started to rain and it killed the fire!
When the Lord called Angus to start preaching and to share the Gospel, Angus acted in obedience and soon he started getting calls from all over South Africa inviting him to preach to farmers. His faith grew with every campaign and with every miracle that he experienced.
Then, just as you read about the miracles and think that nothing could go wrong in the Buchans’ lives, a tragic accident on the farm shook their family. This was an incredibly tough time for everyone at Shalom, but God is always faithful in bringing His peace in times of need. Even at the lowest point in his life, Angus remained faithful to the Lord.
A wonderful part of the story is the fact that today Angus and Simeon Benghu are real brothers in Christ. After 25 years Simeon is still Angus’s foreman and as Angus says: “His children are mine and my children are his.”
Angus and Jill soon decided that their faith needed to have feet, and when they discovered the needs in their community, they opened their farm to 24 Zulu orphans. These children had no parents or homes so Angus and Jill decided to raise them as their own. Today two of Angus’ daughters, Robyn and Jilly, help to run the children’s home. His children are just as dedicated as he is, and his two sons, Andrew and Fergus run the farm while Angus preaches away from home almost every weekend.
‘Faith like Potatoes’ is a life-changing story. Local film maker, Frans Cronje, was so deeply moved by the book that he was inspired to produce a feature film with the same name. It will be released in cinemas in October and on DVD in December. This film is set to be one of the most powerful evangelistic films ever produced. It is envisaged that every church and Christian home would own a copy. It is right up there with the classics like “The Cross and the Switchblade.”
The movie was shot in Greytown, and at Shalom, the farm owned by Angus and Jill. By shooting on location where many of the events portrayed actually occurred, an unparalled authenticity has been brought into the movie.
A share of the profits from this movie will be set aside for Angus Buchan’s work, part of which is the Shalom Children’s Home. The children’s home, and many of the children who live there, are also featured in the film.
Director, Regardt van den Bergh, summed it up perfectly when he said, “Our film stays truthful to the heart of Angus and Jill’s story and I believe God, through this film, will touch your heart as He did theirs.”