Angus Buchan - Faith Like Potatoes Book and DVD Review

By By Francis Mukuzunga
July 2010
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AFTER watching the movie ‘Faith Like Potatoes’ I was compelled to read the book of the same title by Angus Bucham, a Zambian born Scottish farmer who emigrated to South Africa during the apartheid days as he recounts a true-life story. I have not had a chance to read the book previosly that became a best seller in 2006, and then later adapted into a full screen movie.

The movie stars Frank Rautenbach (as Angus Buchan), Jeanne Wilhelm (Jill Buchan) and Hamilton Dlamini (Simeon Bhengu). I should say watching the movie first was as intriguing as reading the book itself, although one would prefer it the other way around. When Angus came to Namibia to launch the book in 2009, I was not one of the many that flocked to the bookstore at Maerua Mall to have a signed copy of thee book by the farmer-turned-preacher-turned-author.

But what I can now say is that both the book and the movie have blossomed into the Shalom movement that provides hope for the inner spirit to thousands across the globe.

Angus leaves his farm in Zambia and immigrates to South Africa due to some poor harvest and escalating political violence in the late 1970s. He is accompanied by three young children and Jill, his pregnant wife. With little or almost nothing, the family acquires a small piece of land in KwaZulu-Natal and builds a life out of nothing. The success of the faming venture is based upon Christian belief that “God will make a way – when there seems to be no way.” The metaphor behind the story then, that one must have faith in order to succeed in life “just like potatoes” that grow underneath the earth’s surface till they are ripe and ready for harvest.

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.

That, of course does not come on a silver platter as there is a lot of hard work, sacrifice, turmoil, trials and tribulations - all rolled around one man’s family and the black community that surrounds and works for him As Angus’s farm grows, so does his workload—and so does his anger and anxiety.

He sees everything in the wrong light and even blames his black employees and neighbours for his misfortunes. When Jill finally drags him to church one day in the midst of his ordeals, he gives himself and his family to Christ and the beautiful story starts from thereon.

Angus’s pastor challenges him to tell three people what he’s done, and in doing so Angus discovers in himself a boldness and passion for evangelism. He wants other men like himself—hardworking, exhausted men—to know that work alone will not save them.

When a chance fire threatens to spread to a nearby farm, Angus challenges his Zulu farmhand Simeon Bhengu to pray with him for rain. Simeon scoffs, because it’s not yet the rainy season—until the clouds gather, and the raindrops fall, and the fire is completely extinguished.

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. A story so dynamic and powerful that it has sold more than 50 000 copies to date and has just been updated and re-launched.

What makes Angus’ story such an inspiration is that it makes the reader consider their own lives against others. Many readers have travelled from all over the world to Angus’ farm to meet him.

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.”

What is very striking in the story is the contrast between the miracles and the hardships that seemed to happen. However, 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 many years Simeon is still Angus’s foreman and the two help spread the word in the ministry. Part of the farm has now been converted to Shalom Children’s Home for some Zulu orphans, and is run by his daughters, Robyn and Jilly. His two sons, Andrew and Fergus run the rest of the farm while Angus preaches away from home almost every weekend.

A share of the profits from the movie and the book has been set aside for Angus Buchan’s work.PF