No. 975



Most people in America know the name Warren Buffett because he is one of the richest people in the world. The last time I checked he was listed third by Forbes Magazine with a fortune of $65 billion. What many people may not know is that he and his late wife, Susan, reared a terrific family that consisted of Howard, Susie and Peter.
While reading a fantastic book titled “Forty Chances: Finding Hope in a Hungry World” written by his first son Howard, I acquired a deep respect for Warren Buffett because of his conservative Midwestern values. He still lives in a modest home in Omaha, Neb., where he and Susan did not give their children access to their wealth while they were growing up.
Rather, their children had to work and earn everything they received and Howard went through a series of different jobs before finding his true love, farming. Several years ago I first became acquainted with Howard through a magazine article. Howard lives and farms 1,500 acres in central Illinois near Decatur, a town of about 1,200 people. I could not believe a man whose father was worth billions of dollars was actually driving a tractor and a combine to earn a living. He had a failed marriage early in life, but later married Devon, a woman who already had four children, and what a team they have turned out to be.
In 2006 Howard embarked on a mission that still exists today to help the most vulnerable people on earth, nearly a billion people who lack basic food security and go to bed hungry every day. This came as a result of his father making an announcement that he was leaving the bulk of his fortune to philanthropy. Now this is my personal comment: It is literally amazing how God prepares us for something bigger than ourselves as He did Howard when his passion turned out to be farming and raising crops that would help to feed the starving millions all across the world.
The concept behind the Forty Chances relates to the number of crops that a farmer can realistically plant and harvest during his or her lifetime. In other words, a farmer has about 40 chances, or growing seasons, to get it right.
In his quest to use foundation money wisely and to help as many people as he possibly could, in a few short years Howard has literally become an authority, not only in farming but in all the other challenges of dealing with local and national governments, other agencies with similar goals and differences in soils that determine productivity. Over the past decade he has made up to 150 trips to Africa, Mexico, Latin America and South America to find ways to help starving people feed themselves, both now and in the future.
His wife Devon made a great contribution to him when she bought him a good camera. Now he can document many of the people, places and events he encounters as he travels to one or more of the 55 countries in Africa and other places he seeks to help others. One thing I found of interest is the difference between dirt and soil. Good soil is basic for a good crop with a high yield. In Africa, for example, the soils vary so greatly from one end of this vast continent to the other, without a good understanding of soil types and how to build them up, that precious time and resources can be wasted without solving the problem.
The book “Forty Chances: Finding Hope in a Hungry World” consists of 40 different stories, and each one will give you insights into solving at least part of the problem of world hunger. You read this book and your life will never be the same again, I guarantee it. I bought my copy from
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)