I read a little blurb in a magazine the other day about a church in Texas, Episcopal Church of Our Savior, and how they are making a difference in their community. This church of 30 people (thirty….THIRTY!) has donated 18,000 pounds of freshly grown produce to area food pantries, the equivalent of 72,000 servings of fruits and vegetables, since 2003. They do this through a program the church started where people in the community rent garden plots on the church’s 4-acre property for $30 a year. As they garden for their own food, they agree to give 10 percent of their harvest to charity, and everyone works together to tend six plots whose harvest goes directly to charity.
How absolutely amazing is this? What a completely brilliant idea. This is a TINY church making a HUGE difference in their community. First, and most importantly, they are giving food to the poor. Quite a bit of it, in fact. Secondly, they’re being very economical and health conscious by growing their own fresh fruits and vegetables themselves instead of buying a lesser quality at the grocery store. Third, this is a way that the church can serve the community by renting their land and involving them in the project to give.
This is so smart, but so simple. Farming land and giving-away a portion of it is what the people of God have been doing for thousands of years, it’s even a part of Old Testament law. I’ve given some thought to growing a vegetable garden of my own because it’s healthy and cheap, but to do it as a community and corporately give-away a portion of your harvest (not to mention the six plots entirely devoted to charity) is something that I could really picture Jesus being pleased with. After I read this story, I couldn’t get it out of my head. Because this is a perfect example of a church using their imagination and resources (little though they may be) to show the love of Jesus to the hurting and hungry. They stepped outside of the box on this one. They didn’t ask for a canned food drive (which probably wouldn’t produce nearly as much food in a church of 30 people), they didn’t organize servers for the local soup kitchen (still a great thing), they used their own effort and sweat to grow something fresh and good from the ground. They used God’s resources to feed the people who need Him. And in doing so, thirty people have fed thousands.
Couldn’t we, with all of our churches who are most likely quite a BIT bigger than 30 people, use our imaginations to come-up with ways to meet needs in our community in a such a simple and needed way? For all of the big budget megachurch “outreach programs” I’ve come across, I wonder which church has a better reputation in the community for love and generosity? I’m guessing the one whose squash they’re eating.