Sarah Salter 

Sarah Salter is a graduate of Methodist College with a BA in English. An employee of the NC Church Education Ministries of the International Pentecostal Holiness Church (IPHC), her work has appeared in Methodist College’s Tapestry magazine and Evangel, the monthly magazine of the IPHC. She is a member of ACFW and is currently working on her first novel. Sarah travels regularly with short term medical mission teams, but makes her home in Central NC with her dog, Sadie. Visit her website at

Faith Like Potatoes

Always a great lover of books, I’ve read to entertain myself or educate myself or sometimes simply to escape the stress and busyness of life. I love it when I am reading and realize that the story is giving me something more than just entertainment. Some books give me a new perspective on an aspect of life or make me a better writer. And on a rare occasion, I read a book that makes me a better person. Faith Like Potatoes went one step beyond that: It made me a better Christian.

I stumbled across Faith Like Potatoes by Angus Buchan while doing online research several months ago. I skimmed the back of the book and knew that I had to read it. I bought it, added it to my stack of must-read books, and then became so busy that it sat collecting dust for weeks.

I work in full-time ministry, and in my spare moments, I do short-term mission work. I worked a month of seventy- and eighty-hour weeks, then spent eight days in the mission field, and came home completely exhausted. The day after I returned home, I picked up Buchan’s book. God knew exactly what I needed that day, and He gave it to me through Buchan’s words.

Some authors write with such beautiful language that a reader is drawn in, almost hypnotized. That is not the style of Angus Buchan. His writing is so simple, straightforward, and unassuming that it is absolutely refreshing. He is a farmer, not an author, and that made his words understandable and his voice endearing.

Faith Like Potatoes is Angus’s story. A Scotsman by blood but Zimbabwean by birth, Angus was a proud, tough farmer on his enormous farm in Zambia. He built his farm from the ground up, but in the late 1970s, with massive political unrest in Zambia and no formal education for his young family, Angus and his wife, Jill, made the wrenching decision to sell their farm and move. With nothing more than what they could fit into a couple of trucks, the Buchans trekked to Greytown, South Africa, and started all over again.

Starting over was not easy for the young, fiery-tempered farmer. His little family was living in the midst of the Zulu people, whom he did not know, did not like, did not trust. And if all that were not enough, the Zulu people did not speak his language. Angus worked himself to death with very little help. The farm began to grow, but he was still hounded by despair. Nearing a breaking point, he and his family got an unwelcome invitation to the local Methodist church, where Angus met Jesus and his life changed forever.

Once Angus knew Jesus, he wanted everybody else to know Him, too. The first place he started sharing Jesus was with the Zulu workers. God worked miracles on that farm—saving the corn from a hailstorm, sending rain during a runaway fire on the property, and even raising a woman from the dead after she had been struck by lightning. Once the Zulu farm workers had met Jesus, Angus knew that he had to tell the rest of the world, too. That is what Angus has done ever since.

I bought the book and the movie on the same day. Because the book was nonfiction and a memoir, I was interested (and a little

concerned) to see how a filmmaker would handle the adaptation. Global Creative Studio in South Africa made the movie on location in South Africa with well-known native actors, Frank Rautenbach, Jeanne Wilhelm, and Hamilton Dhlamini. Regardt Van Den Bergh directed it, who also acted the part of Angus’s pastor.

I am not particularly a connoisseur of foreign films. I was hoping to see a strong story with talented acting and skilled cinematography, but I didn’t know if I could expect it from a foreign studio making a low-budget Christian film. But the very first scene took my breath away, and by the end of the movie, I had been thoroughly impressed by these wonderful artists.

The actors were brilliant. Frank Rautenbach was phenomenal in the role of Angus Buchan. He was convincing as an irate heathen and equally convincing as a passionate and compassionate evangelist. When Rautenbach raged, I quaked. When he wept, I choked up. When he laughed, I laughed. He successfully carried me through the entire gamut of emotions and brought me out on the other side. For me, Rautenbach’s acting made this movie.

One of the great strengths of the movie was the way the scriptwriter and director were able to focus on the people and relationships in Angus’s world. In the book, Buchan introduces us to the people but then focuses on the events surrounding them. The filmmakers, however, showed us the events, but focused on the people. The audience sees more clearly how difficult the relationships were between the quick-tempered farmer and the welcoming and generous Zulus. The filmmakers took great care to highlight the relationships between Angus and his wife, Jill, as well as Angus and his foreman, Simeon. It deepened the movie and made me love and identify with Angus that much more.

I’m not sure if I could choose between the book, Faith Like Potatoes, and the movie. As much as I enjoyed Angus’s writing, there was so much beauty and depth of emotion in the movie that I would have to recommend it as well. You will want to be sure to have your subtitles or captions turned on when you watch the video because the English is strongly accented and there is a good bit of Zulu spoken. Keep some tissues handy, and be prepared for your heart to be changed.