Planting and Harvesting in New Eden
One of the little girls from the Ferroviaria (Quito) neighborhood tentatively reached down, put her small fingers firmly around the base of the stem and gently lifted the red radish from the ground. By the delighted look on her face, I sensed that this was the very first time she had ever harvested something from a garden. I’m not sure who was thrilled more, she or I, but I’m sure we both were rejoicing in the satisfaction of harvesting something beautiful from the place where we had previously sown a small seed.
For me, the seed was planted a little over two years ago. The seed was an idea to convert a vacant lot into a garden. Some saw that place as nothing more than a large, vacant lot overgrown with weeds which annually cost the church tax money, (plus the expense of hiring someone to keep the weeds in check!) Others of us envisioned a colorful, productive garden with beds of vegetables and terraces of fruit trees, a sort of new Eden … a refuge of peace, fulfillment, and blessing.
“a sort of new Eden … a refuge of peace, fulfillment, and blessing “.
It has taken a lot of hard work to pull out persistent weeds, prepare fertile planting spaces, and keep vegetables protected from the effects of hail, flooding rains, and pests. But the seed is growing. Our New Eden garden gradually has grown in size and has provided nutritious food for the pastoral family, as well as neighbors in the community and the stranger in need.
“Our New Eden garden gradually has grown in size and has provided nutritious food for the pastoral family, as well as neighbors in the community and the stranger in need”.
This year, we’ve begun a garden project for the children who come to the church’s Saturday morning kids’ club (with the partnership of International ChildCare Ministries). The idea is to provide a loving and safe space that contributes to the spiritual, physical, cognitive, and social development of the children of the Ferroviaria neighborhood. Each time they meet, the children take turns preparing soil, planting, tending, and harvesting. As they learn about gardening, the children are also learning things like the wonders of God’s creation, how to work together, and how to take care of their bodies through eating nutritious, safe food which they have cultivated themselves.
For me, the most fulfilling part of the time with the children each week is sharing something from the Bible that has a direct spiritual application with something going on in the garden that morning. Lately, we’ve been talking about seeds and harvest. Last week, as we harvested radishes and remembered planting tiny seeds a month prior, we talked about Mark 4:26-29. In that passage we observed that just like the sower puts seed in the ground and trusts God for the growth and harvest, each Saturday the staff of the kids’ club sow a spiritual seed in them, the Word of God. Like the sower, we don’t know how the seed of God’s word grows in the kids, but our hope is that it will produce an amazing harvest of righteousness and transformation in their lives.
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Dennis “J.R.” Crouse is a missionary with the Free Methodist Church and serves as the field coordinator for VISA mission teams in the Latin America Area. He and his family live in Quito, Ecuador. In his free time, J.R. loves to garden and study nature.
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