A Well-Tended Garden

by Paul Olver

b_800_0_0_00_images_gallery_Colombia_laawaxflowersThings grow wild in the tropics. The soil – often volcanic – is very fertile. Vegetation is lush and thick. There is an amazing variety of flowers and fruit.

b_800_0_0_00_images_gallery_Colombia_laaantlaceThe thing is, plants grow really wild if untended. A vacant lot left without care very quickly grows into a dense and tangled thicket – almost impenetrable. Flowering plants get choked out. Trees can be overwhelmed by vines or parasites. An army of leafcutter ants can disassemble and strip a tree, carrying off its entire foliage canopy in bite size pieces.

b_800_0_0_00_images_gallery_Colombia_laahibiscusWe have stayed some eight times at a delightful hotel in Costa Rica. It is as they say: bueno, bonito, y barato (good, pretty and cheap). They have a great breakfast with delicious banana bread. And it is in a gorgeous garden setting. But is has taken over a decade to carve this garden jewel out of the tropical jungle.

It takes constant pruning and care to keep this garden beautiful. A team of two or three gardeners works from sunup to sundown six days a week to tend the grounds and plantings. They are constantly raking, weeding, trimming, pruning, and transplanting. Even in this climate where it rains nearly every day, they do daily targeted watering to make sure shaded plants get enough moisture. When we commented on their faithful work the response was: we love what we do.

And it all pays off. The garden attracts songbirds and hummingbirds – and snowbirds from the U.S., Canada, and Europe.

Jesus said: I am the Vine, you are the branches, and my Father is the gardener. You and I grow wild if untended. God provides constant care – pruning and pulling, trimming and transplanting so that we may better show off His handiwork and bear flowers and fruit to His glory.

If left untended churches, districts and networks of churches can become overgrown and tangled, choked and unproductive. At its best, our system of leadership development and ordination, mentoring and accountability, elections and appointments tend the garden for maximum reproduction – to show off God’s handiwork and extend His Kingdom.

b_800_0_0_00_images_laateamPlease pray that our team of Area Director and missionaries, mission district leaders and superintendents will be constantly submissive to the tending of the Father, our gardener. And pray that we will all be faithful gardeners, tending the pastors, churches and districts under our care – so there will be maximum reproduction for God’s Kingdom.

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