Spiritual Life Guide

GOD MAKES IT GROW                  

I just ate dinner: squash, sugar peas, new potatoes, a salad of spinach, tomatoes, cucumbers- all from Central’s community garden. If you’re not a veggie lover, this won’t whet your appetite, but if you are, MMMMM! I always get excited to see plants grow into what their tiny seeds dictate. Have you looked at Central’s garden? There’s a fence around it, but you can see clearly. The fence is to keep deer and rabbits and other critters from eating the produce before the workers can harvest.  In the Bible, Paul writes that he planted, Apollos watered, but God made it grow. (I Cor. 3:6) Paul is referring to ministry work, but this can apply literally. Ask any gardener! He can use the best soil, best seed, do all the right things, but he knows that GOD ALONE makes the plants grow. God gives life to every part of creation. Somehow the gardeners I’ve met acknowledge this. In my youth I recall older farmers growing huge fields and beautiful gardens, and they always praised God for the crops. ALWAYS!  Farmers knew that they were dependent on the Lord, and they were humble yet bold in their testimony of praise to God.  The garden plots at Central are small, but connecting to the soil grows a PERSON at the same time it grows a PLANT! I’m so proud of Langston; the garden is his baby and his pride and joy.

I want to tell you about the garden, which we named “A Pleasant Place to Be,” named in honor of Rev. Angela Pleasants who encouraged Langston to pursue his dream. Angela never planted a seed, but she certainly ate from the bounty of MANY PLOTS. (Angela is a vegetarian and can put away massive quantities of fresh veggies, staying trim and healthy as a consequence.) The garden is about ten years old. In the beginning Langston didn’t receive much encouragement. “You’ll never grow anything there! That place is full of rocks!”  “The church can’t afford to water anything extra!” “Nobody will want a plot. If they like growing things, they have their own yards.”  AND THE WORST: “What kind of trouble will we have if non-members start hanging around?”   Maybe the last comment and similar fearful words pushed Langston more than his love of gardening. He loves people more! ALL PEOPLE!

Langston asked the Board for permission to make a garden. Truthfully, there was much reluctance. That’s behind us. Central was still thinking “within,” not “reaching out.” There were rocks! There were weeds! There was dryness!  Langston enlisted some helpers, paid some business men with huge machines, and in a few months, there was a garden with many rocks removed (many keep working their way to the surface still to this day), good soil hauled in, and a make-shift irrigation system that Langston piped from the creek up the snaky hill, to hoses and stands so that God’s (free) water could water all plots. The pump that Langston installed gets stopped up, run over, floated downstream, even stolen, but he fixes or replaces it. It’s what he knows how to do, snakes and all.

As of this year, Central’s Community Garden has 23 plots, including two raised beds built for folks who needed some extra help in order to garden. Ten plots belong to members, two plots are worked for giving Central Cares fresh produce, one plot belongs to the preschool and another to one of the preschool parents, one plot belongs to a teacher of special needs children (who come to see and “help” their plants grow), and nine plots belong to community folks from all over the world. Children often come with those parents to learn and to interpret, helping bridge the language barrier.  The very first year we quickly learned that what some planted that looked like weeds to us, were special greens they used to eat in Africa. Fortunately, Langston used his “kind” self in reminding them to weed their gardens, and the children explained that mom would boil those leaves in her soup. 😊

Folks like the Woods who bring the Villatoro kids, the Laniers, and the Viruets often share a portion for Central Cares and for members. I would guess it’s more than the “firstfruits” offering.  Go look one day. Breathe in fresh air. Plants filter the air, you know. You’ll see new crops three different seasons. Only in winter are things mostly left fallow, another of God’s rules for good land stewardship.

The spiritual guide for July, “GOD MAKES THE GROWTH,” deals with gardens, farming, things that grew in Bible times and Bible lands. The guide in on the church website. I’ll also have a hardcopy on the table outside the church office. There you’ll find new Upper Rooms and the prayer box for prayer concerns or notes to Pastor Pam and church staff/leaders.  There are boxes for various donations, like Central Cares, snacks for Novant testers next door, ARES/missions requests. We put out and take in each day, so it’s safe for you leave items without coming inside.  GOD BLESS YOU FOR GIVING. GOD BLESS YOU AS YOU READ HIS WORD AND PRAY.  We WILL be back together one day, and “…what rejoicing there will be, when we all see (spiritually) Jesus; we’ll sing and shout the victory (from COVID).”
Bobbie Denny, spiritual lay leader