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"A Lil' Huntin', A Lil' Preachin', A Lil' Music & A Lil' Story Tellin'"
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By Haydn Jensen

Downtown London got a little bit wilder last Saturday night—and people were fine with that. Nothing like camo hunting clothes, scruffy beards and duck call sounds bouncing off buildings at Talbot and King Streets to make our urban core just a bit less urban. But, that's what happens when Jase Robertson, star of A&E's Duck Dynasty comes to town. He drew about 3,000 fans to Budweiser Gardens to hear him share about his faith, family and what life is like as a famous TV personality.

In case you don't know the Duck Dynasty story, Jase's father Phil Robertson first starting making and selling duck calls from his family shed in Louisiana in 1972. Later, business savvy son Willie took over as CEO and the company grew dramatically into a multi-million dollar empire...I mean dynasty. Jase Robertson handles manufacturing operations by building and fine tuning duck calls, while also inventing new ones. The Duck Dynasty show follows the Robertson family in their day to day activities of running a business together and dealing with each other in various family life situations. The eccentric and colourful Uncle Si (Phil's brother) brings plenty of amusement to the program. As Jase says, "My top 10 dumbest things I've done in my life has all included Si in some way." Like any family, they're a diverse bunch with different opinions and ways of doing things. Unlike any family, they can be called pure Louisiana millionaire rednecks. This makes for interesting TV.

The Duck Dynasty show first aired in early 2013 and grew steadily in popularity, much to the surprise of the Robertsons. On August 14, 2013, the season four premiere drew a total of 11.8 million viewers, making it the most watched nonfiction series telecast in cable television history. Although not meant as an evangelistic program, the family does not hide their Christian faith. Jase shares that when the "TV people" wanted to interview him during the first week of filming, he automatically reached for his duck calls and his Bible. They asked why. His reply: “These are the only two things I know much about.” Each episode ends with the entire family saying grace around the dinner table.

So, why did Jase Robertson come to London? Good question. Considering that the Duck Dynasty family receives between 500-600 invitations per day to speak at events worldwide, Londoners should feel honoured. Credit goes to Farmtown Canada's founders Kelly and George Franklin for venturing a dream request for Jase to headline at Farmtown's promotion and fundraising event October 12. Jase shared that Farmtown's ministry tugged at his heart and he agreed to provide his support.

Kelly and George Franklin began Farmtown Canada in 2005 at their Mapleton farm near Aylmer. There they provide an opportunity for kids to spend time with and care for farm animals ranging from horses to chickens and just about everything in between then some. The Franklins run this ministry because they see how it helps children to develop confidence, self esteem and choice making skills by feeling special, accepted, and empowered. Through their “Funny Farm” weekly summer day camp programs for kids aged 4-12, children learn animal care while also learning Christian teachings through Bible discussions and activities. Outside the summer camp program, Farmtown provides weekly peer mentor counselling, farm and animal care training, and Agtour farm tours. After 8 years, over 4,700 children and young adults have participated in Farmtown's ministry, earning Kelly Franklin the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal and active support from regional civic leaders and MP's.

Jase Robertson himself can testify to the power spending time with animals and nature. He grew up spending countless hours in the woods, the duck blind, and on hunting trips with his father. From the age of 8, Jase wanted to spend as much time in a rugged woods lifestyle as possible, even missing the maximum allowable amount of school days permitted by Louisiana law. Even though his dad was not a follower of Jesus at the time, the young Jase recognized the natural environment as far too "designed” to be just a chance occurrence. "Somebody is powerful...The design to this planet demands a designer", says Jase. He also jokes, "I've been in the woods my whole life and have never run up against a woman named Mother Nature." Jase agrees with the Bible's explanation of God as creator of everything, and sees all creation—including each one of us-as part of God's masterpiece. Appreciating God's creation in this way, Jase says he puts more time and effort into preserving the environment than he ever takes away from it as a hunter.

By the way, Jase did have some words to share for those opposed to hunting in general. Quoting Genesis 9:2, Jase calls this verse the birthplace of hunting. Here, God says to Noah, "You may eat any moving thing that lives. As I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything." Jase goes on to say, "There are two things you can do with ducks—you can look at 'em, or you can eat 'em."

I liked how Jase spoke with encouraging and straightforward honesty about his faith. "I talk about the Bible because I believe it to be true." And, referring to the Duck Dynasty TV show, he suggests, "If God can use us, He can use anybody." He said that they laugh at each other as a family because they know they have been forgiven. In fact, Jase made an insightful comment about forgiveness as "the only way any relationship will survive.” This is true of our relationship with God, but also of our relationships with each other, he says. Making no apologies for his faith, he gently challenges anyone listening to come up with a better way to achieve forgiveness and happiness other than through faith in Jesus Christ. Not being a high pressure person, Jase's invitation ended on a friendly note, “If you don't want to, good luck...and let's go shoot some ducks." That sounds like a great way to keep the conversation door open for another time.

So, will Farmtown Canada's Funny Farm Ministries Camps feature a duck hunting program anytime soon? Perhaps not, but you never know. What is likely, however, is for Farmtown to continue working at impacting lives with solid Christian values in their farm ministry and continue helping children learn self esteem, respect for others, and care for the environment. This sounds similar to what Phil Robertson's once said about their efforts on Duck Dynasty: "We're trying to infuse a little good into a culture in which gentleness, patience, kindness, self-control, love, joy, and peace have become abnormal." If this strikes a chord in you, perhaps you would like to respond locally through the efforts of Farmtown Canada:

For more information: Farm Town Canada:
Phone: 519-773-2292