By Paul Wilkinson
As disciples of Jesus, we are called to live on mission with Jesus. At least once a month (or as frequently as is possible so send me stories!), I want to share stories of LIFE Groups living on mission with Jesus. May we be perpetually living into the “Good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10) Read, pray over, and meditate upon Charlie Coffey’s story with Cul2vate; how he leverages a hobby and passion for the sake of the Gospel:
I have been associated with Cul2vate for over two years now. I first met Joey Langford 3.5 years ago in the BBC Missions Garden; at that time, Joey was still on mission in South Africa. We chatted about his goal of wanting to come back to the USA and initiate a Cul2vate Program in the Greater Nashville Area. I shared with him my gardening history and my dreams/desires of having a “more missions-focused approach” future for the BBC Gardens. Well, as we could say about Joey and his Cul2vate ministry….”the rest is history.”
I count myself fortunate to now be a volunteer with Cul2vate. Since that first meeting 3.5 years ago, I have retired and have more time to give. I have been active in gardening since a youngster. Both my mother and father were gardeners and they helped to create in me a love for working with my hands and raising/harvesting fresh vegetables. I not only love to grow fresh vegetables but, since retirement, have the additional time to plan and plant on a much larger scale (1/4 acre to almost 5 acres). Additionally, my science “genes” love to experiment with new growing techniques and new vegetable varieties. To grow fresh food and then be able to “give it away” to others who do not have sufficient fresh vegetables is a very rewarding yet humbling experience. It is more than just giving my money to help another, but it is knowing that in those vegetables, I am giving away apart of myself (my time and energy) to assist others.
But . . . there is more! For those times that I am able to volunteer down on the Farm, Cul2vate trainees are always present. These individuals are learning how to “garden.” More importantly, they are needing someone to interact in their lives . . . someone to love on them. As I go about my assigned gardening duties, I have the opportunity to “community” with these trainees. “Community” occurs as we work together, eat together, and share life together. I have nearly 50 years of adult life experiences to share with these guys. We may or may not have similar backgrounds but we are able to share “current life” together. At the end of each day, I realize that I received much more than I was able to give.
Sharing life together with someone is an essential component in a Christian’s participation in the Great Commission. As Pastor Mike encouraged us just a few Sundays ago, “If all of your interactions and community are with other Christian friends . . . then . . . initiate interactions and friendships with non-Christians.” Although I’m not an avid reader, I have just recently read two things that have made an impact on my thinking
- Example is everything when sharing new concepts with others. We can talk, explain, discuss topics, but for the optimal impact one needs to “example” the concepts before them. At the farm, I example life before these guys. They then have to connect the dots.
- We are well aware that the Apostle Paul reminded individual Christians that through Jesus Christ we become members of a royal priesthood. What we sometimes forget is that the role of a priest is to represent Christ before the people and provide a conduit to and represent the people before Christ. What better concept of being a priest than being an example of Christ to these guys and then providing a relationship/friendship that offers a conduit to an initial relationship or a deeper relationship to Christ.
I would challenge the “mature/retired” adults at BBC to look for opportunities and regularly volunteer to be “examples” and “priests” to lost friends in our community.
(Charlie Coffey is a member of the In-Betweeners Sunday AM LIFE Group.)