In Central Kansas, the name Bathurst is synonymous with excellence in farming.
Estol Bathurst hails from a farming dynasty, his great-grandfather having arrived in Abilene, Kansas, in the late 1800s to establish a general store, partially supplying it through farming his own land.
The Bathursts specialize in diversified crops of wheat, along with crops like milo, alfalfa, and soy beans. They also raise cattle. Early summer, you’ll find Estol and his father and brother reaping vast fields of golden wheat, his uncles and brothers harvesting on nearby farms. Following the harvest, their grains are shipped around the world.
Along with high-quality yields, the Bathursts are known for integrity, an outflow of their rich Christian faith: For the Bathursts, faith flows seamlessly into work.
And Estol is about to leave the family business.
During a Zion BIC church service, Estol received a prompting from the Holy Spirit about overseas service. Over the years, he and his wife, Kristen, had desired to serve cross-culturally, though for one reason or another, the timing hadn’t been right.
At this juncture in their lives, though, they were content: “I planned to farm the rest of my life,” he said, intending to pass the more than 100-year-old farm to his children.
So, during the Zion BIC church service, he wrestled with God. “Honestly, I was struggling with the Lord,” said Estol. “I didn’t want to leave the farm.”
But he couldn’t dislodge the sense God was initiating this calling.
To verify it, Estol prayed Kristen would have a similar conviction. After the service, Kristen confirmed she, too, felt called to international missions.
This fall, the Bathurst family is deploying to Malawi, serving among the unreached Yawo people group with the goal of seeing a movement of multiplication among new Christ-followers. Following a time of extensive language learning, they will be partnering with World Missions global workers and BIC Malawi church leaders to teach chronological Bible studies.
“We are excited and ready to go and want to be his instruments,” said Kristen, who credits their years of waiting and working on the farm as integral for their work in Malawi.
“All along, God had been working in us, readying us,” she said. Along with farming with Estol, Kristen has worked as a dietician, and she homeschools their five children. Estol also served as a youth pastor, and together, they have ministered in their home congregation and local community.
Disciplines honed through a lifetime of farming — such as problem-solving and perseverance — help prepare them for life overseas, too. In Malawi, a country with limited resources, troubleshooting is often key to survival.
“I’m pretty good at fixing things,” said Estol. “Growing up on the farm, I spent many hours with my dad, learning how to repair and maintain vehicles and farm equipment.”
“I think that will be valuable.”
Such a pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps philosophy is tempered with humility — also a gift of farming. Hard work only goes so far in cultivating land: You need rain and sun, a reliance on forces beyond your control to bring about a rich harvest.
The Bathursts bring these dual and, often, paradoxical postures hardwired from farming to Malawi — a dogged pursuit to steward resources to which God has entrusted them with a humble recognition God alone transforms lives.
So, we are expectant to see how God will move in and through them in Malawi.
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10 NLT