Tending to Eden: Chapter Six, Sharing the Gospel

We are continuing to read through Tending to Eden by Scott C. Sabin.

This one will knock your socks off —

Prior to the genocide, Rwanda had the highest percentage of Christians in Africa and was considered a missionary success story. Clearly, something was missing. The world is full of people who call themselves Christians. Disciples are harder to find. …

Eldon Garcia, Floresta’s director in the Dominican Republic for many years, told me he saw a pattern with some of the farmers who succeeded in our program. The story wasn’t pretty.

As these farmers grew more successful, they suddenly had more money than ever before. And their lives began to change. First came the television, then more alcohol, and finally mistresses. …

In order to see real development, the fundamental relationships between people and God, people and their neighbors, and people and their land had to change.

What a shame it would be to spend years and years for prayer and toil and to invest thousands upon thousands of dearly donated funds only to see the beneficiaries become whoremongering drunkards.

As a result, Plant With Purpose chooses to work with existing churches where they exist, providing them with support and training so they can fulfill their proper role of creating disciples. You see, many organizations undermine the local churches and even compete with them. The Plant With Purpose philosophy is to train the local church leadership and to help them form networks with other churches in the area to cooperatively do what only the church can do.

Churches are challenged to make a difference in their communities, either directly supporting Plant With Purpose’s work or filling the gaps in areas we don’t address, such as caring for orphans or providing education for those who cannot go to public school.

Sabin quotes a pastor in a once-impoverished Mexican village,

El Porvenir has changed. It is not like it was when I left. Now I see that there are more trees, people have plants and vegetable gardens around their homes. I also see that they are producing trees in their nursery and that the peopple are planting vetiver grass on the hillsides. The fish production impressed me. They said to me, “What seemed impossible now is possible.” I believe that the community should give much thanks to God and to those who have helped make this possible.

And he tells this story,

The following evening we visited a Bible study group in the town of Los Mogotes. As the study concluded, I was introduced to a young man named Jonathan. He had been attending the study for some time and committed his life to Christ three months earlier.

As we talked, I discovered he was the grandson of one of the first farmers to receive a loan in the area. Although he grew up farming, he is now preparing to go to college.


4 Responses

  1. Yes, but ….
    My sojourn with the churches of Christ began in 1953 in California – which meant that I entered a culture opposed to missionary societies and the spirit of individualism was rampant. Even though our present ministry is listed in the Mission Resource Network, there are questions, and perhaps even challenges, that could be discussed. Keeping a balanced approach is needed to assist humanitarian/spiritually yet keeping a focus on God.

  2. Jay, you have no idea how encouraged I was to read the term “vetiver grass” in a Christian publication – it made my day (so far)!

  3. Mick,

    Uh … I’ve always been a big vetiver grass fan

    (Actually, I had to look it up.)

  4. LoL – I figured that, but it’s actually the kind of thing that can make an immense impact in warm-climate landscapes, and the kind of thing they probably won’t teach someone about in missionary school.

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