The Pastor's Peace - August, 2012
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The day was not too hot, thank goodness. We had a group of 9 people from Beaver Church who had volunteered to help with a micro-farm that is run by Homefull, a homeless advocacy and support organization in Montgomery County. The farm is located in West Dayton and adjoins a homeless shelter for men. We were joined by Erin, the woman who runs the micro-farm program, Donald, a man who works for Homefull, and Donald’s daughter. We were also joined by a young man from the neighborhood who is part of their apprenticeship program, and another young man from the shelter. Together we accomplished a good deal that morning, planting many seeds, taking out many weeds, and removing all the soil from 8 raised beds that had become contaminated with a fungus.

The Homefull micro-farm program is an excellent example of a charity that helps many. The program is designed to teach job skills to those in homelessness, give them a job there, and then hopefully connect them with landscapers and farmers to get further employment. They also sell the produce at a local farm stand, providing needed fresh produce to the area, with the proceeds going back to the program. The statistics for rehabilitating those in homelessness, many of whom are suffering from addiction, mental illness, or other problems, are not good. However, Homefull does what it can, does it well, and, despite the odds, has some success. It is important to remember that people who find themselves in homelessness
are just like you and me. Many people are one or two paychecks away from homelessness, and it might be surprising who is in that category. Some estimates, for instance, suggest that anywhere from 15% to 25% of people in homelessness have served in the military. Think about all of the veterans in our church and all the veterans we know.

As we worked on the micro-farm, I reflected on what we were doing and our surroundings. The farm is located on very hard soil, which is why they use raised beds, and it is placed between the shelter and a prison complete with barbed wire fences and guard turrets.

What a place for a garden, in-between two places where people were dealing with hardship and despair. Prior to the garden, all there was to look at from the shelter was the prison, something that probably did not inspire hope. Now, however, in this unlikely space there is new life sprouting forth. Tiny tomatoes are turning red, okra is beginning to ripen, and there are a hundred other beds, where work, caring, and love have produced something life affirming and perhaps life changing. What a wonderful example this is of Christ in our lives and Christ in our world. There are many times in our life where things seem so dark, and hope seems foolish. However, there in the midst of despair is Christ, ever tending to us, ever bringing forth new life, like a gardener tends to his garden. What is Christ growing in your life? What are you helping Christ grow in others?

Peace and Blessings,
Pastor Brian