The Power of Prayer Underscored in Ohio's farm country at the Darby Farmland Rally!

November 2, 2000

By Julie Kay Smithson

213 Thorn Locust Lane London, OH 43140-8844 

Julie Smithson [email protected]

Published in The Sower magazine

The morning of Saturday, September 2nd, 2000, dawned in a palpable, impenetrable fog, the hottest day of summer. Labor Day weekend it was, and arguably the most historic of all Labor Days.

On this day, people from forty-five states and two Canadian provinces found a pinnacle of patriotism and faith, on the banks of Springfork and Little Darby creeks. In a streamside pasture already history-steeped -- on the Jan-Dal Farm of Dale, Linda and Brian Rapp -- 1,500-1,750 people from all walks of life gathered, for the sharing of one another's true stories of private property rights under siege in America.

Ghostly in the hazy heat, the striped 'Big Top,' flanked by two other sizable tents, filled with those who had driven up to 2,500 miles for this event. Some had even flown in, from all four corners of our country, keenly aware of the import of this gathering.

For months beforehand, the keyboard of the ten-year-old computer in my home had been humming, night and day, with questions and answers from those learning of our "leap of faith."

The days that were 18-20 hours long, and over 300 e-mails each day, lengthened into weeks and the job and career that I had held for twenty-seven years had to be left behind in the urgency of this cause.

Some asked why; some queried our potential effectiveness ("just" a group of patriots; what could we do to change anything?); many others just let us know that we were in their prayers, while some offered us desperately-needed financial help.

This is what happened, as our Darby Farmland Rally began: as we were listening to the fervent, from-the-heart opening prayer of Tom Farrenkopf, who had left his home, his wife and eleven children, with the massive fires of western Montana only two miles away; as we heard Tom asking God to keep us all safe and our liberties secure, as he was asking for rain or snow to put out the fires in his home state ... the rains began.

We did not know it at the time; that evening, when I finally got back to my home, there was a message on my phone recorder, a lady's voice choked with emotion, saying, "What are you folks doing there in Darby, Ohio? It started raining here in Darby, Montana at five 'til eight this morning, the rain we've been praying for!"

At exactly the moment that Mr. Farrenkopf was praying for us all, five 'til ten in the morning, it began raining in western Montana, and it continued to rain for the better part of the next eight days.

In fact, after the Rally, when everyone had returned home, I received an e-mail from J.B. Stone, of Whitefish, Montana, asking us (we had nothing to do with it!) to please stop the rain, because most of the fires were out, and he wanted to go huckleberry-picking!!

The issue remains: from 23,000 - 53,692 acres, with an additional 166,000 acres earmarked as "future acquisition," the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has come calling to west-central Ohio.

Lands that were given "in perpetuity" to Revolutionary War Veterans in the Virginia Military Survey, are again under siege.

The first time the threat, often fatal to the early pioneers, was malaria and other maladies that were present in the rich, but swampy, soils of this region.

This new scourge comes cloaked in the clothes of 'saving us from development,' and 'farmland preservation', the 'bill of goods' sold to the well-meaning but misinformed non-farmers who live elsewhere in Ohio, as 'preserving open greenspace.'

Madison County, which contains 93% prime farmland -- comparable in quality with only 3.1% of Earth's surface -- stands to lose not only her rural heritage, paid for in blood, sweat and tears, but also her ability to feed people, worldwide, with her fertile and irreplaceable soils.

These lands are called the Darby Plains, and three streams flow through them: the Big and Little Darby Creeks and Springfork Creek. Just south of the "study area," Deer Creek flows into a beautiful reservoir. Many acres within and near Madison County are already in parks and recreation areas; our remaining farmland must be preserved in order to continue providing people with top-quality, healthful, affordable food.

Re-establishing a wetland where today's best farms exist, would decimate a sizable portion of Ohio's farmland.

U.S.F.W.S. blandly attempts to placate citizens by claiming to only buy from "willing sellers," to be "protecting endangered flora and fauna" and to be trying to protect us from ourselves, claiming that we are under an imminent development threat. Many numbers and figures have been used to show THEIR arguments, while our FACTS, offered to anyone who will listen (USFWS, The Ohio State University, and all media), often fall on deaf ears. The fact is that USFWS already owns over 93 million acres in America, and cannot or will not maintain what they already have.

Not to "cry wolf," but our country has been used as collateral for debts incurred by the bad business decisions of a few. Those few are making money by using the wealth of our country as collateral, and lining their own nests at the expense of America, the land that so many gave their ALL for.

Our red, white and blue flag never fails to move me to tears, for it symbolizes the countless millions who risked all, to come here to live.

The American Dream is honorable.

Simplistic as it may seem, our resources (and the resource-providers, such as the farmers, miners, ranchers, loggers, recreationists, etc.) are merely collateral for the business of the powers that be.

Once we recognize and come to grips with that fact, we are not so personally outraged ("why are they trying to take MY home, or MY career?").

Our country, our heritage and our future, are God-Blessed, and He is NOT putting us in harm's way! He is, rather, making us strong, giving us tools for our life's toolbox that will enable us to work for Him, and to be as knowledgeable as possible for the tasks we are given.

Working for God, whether it be in the field of property rights, or in the field with tractor lights, is such a present as we can only try to comprehend!

Please, God, continue to bend our backs with Your Work, for Your Work keeps our eyes and conscience clear!

We can become empowered with the knowledge that our beloved and loving Father, our dear God, is working on our behalf every second of every day and night. When we grouch at what appears to be work, we need to keep in mind that "problems are only opportunities in work clothes." The very act of our God having such faith in us to do things FOR HIM, helping Him in His Work, as it were, is such an honor as to drop me to my knees in humble thanksgiving!

The website was

The grassroots group of farmers and homeowners was called Stewards of the Darby, SOD for short. It was a happy discovery to look up "sod" in the dictionary, and learn its meaning: "One's native land."