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Africa Mission with Pastor Mike

posted Mar 20, 2014, 9:41 AM by Bill Lewis
A mission trip a few years ago for Dan Custis has led to what can only be called a global business, humanitarian and religious opportunity in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Custis, who visited the DRC in 2008 after a conversation with former Celina pastor Bill Lewis, established a relationship with the Rev. Michel Wabantu, who pastors a Protestant church in the country, that could only be described as both business and Christianity.

Custis saw the desolation caused in the DRC by years of civil strife, as well as the hunger and sickness that resulted from a decade-long conflict known as the Second Congo War, which has killed 5.4 million people, mostly from non-military causes such as hunger and sickness.

He also had a way to help ease the hunger that is rife in the DRC, the second largest country in Africa with 75 million people.

That’s because Custis’ company, Advanced Biological Marketing Inc. (ABM) in Van Wert, makes products that increase agricultural yields for a number of crop plants, including corn and soybeans in America.

After rice, the DRC depends on the cassava plant as a source for carbohydrates, while corn (maize) is also cultivated there.

ABM’s products are known for their ability to increase yields for the cassava plant, as well as corn — something that has the potential to help the DRC feed its starving people — while also making plants healthier and stronger, thus reducing the need for mineral fertilizers and pesticides.

Custis said that, after seeing the suffering in the DRC, he felt his company could do a lot to help Congo residents, both from a humanitarian point of view, as well as provide a business opportunity for the Congolese.

“We’re here to do business and make a profit for our stockholders, but there is also a social responsibility side to this,” Custis said.

Custis’ relationship with Rev. Wabantu developed into a business one as well, as the pastor and his wife, Nosky, began working to market ABM’s yield-enhancing products to DRC farmers. The couple, along with a friend, Aimee Nilamiso, were in Van Wert this past week to talk to Custis and

“We have a ministry, we are building empowerment for churches in the DRC,” Rev. Wabantu said, while also noting that there is an opportunity in the DRC to build up a strong business opportunity through ABM’s products.

Corn is one of the main crops in the DRC, as well as cassava and rice. Custis said ABM is now looking at what its products will do to increase cassava yields as well.

“The farmer is the one who needs to really increase his production,” Custis said, adding that increasing yields can also provide a business opportunity for DRC farmers as well, since increasing yields could result in excess production that could be sold.

Meanwhile, the Wabantus and Nilamiso were involved in working with Custis and his staff to come up with a business plan they can put into action when they return to the DRC, as well as seeing some of the local sights – with one of the biggest attractions the snow that has fallen locally.

“We never have snow in our country,” the Rev. Wabantu said, adding that the DRC, formerly known as the Belgian Congo and Zaire, is located south of the Equator in central Africa, is hot year-round.

All three are also thankful for the opportunity provided by ABM to increase the food supply in a country that has suffered greatly in the past from malnutrition and starvation.

“We have seen many great results (from ABM products) — especially with corn — and we feel they will greatly impact our country,” Rev. Wabantu added.

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