|Jackie Snider Front and Center in the Green/Blue Striped Shirt|
As a lifelong United Methodist, I have always been proud to be part of a denomination that has been an advocate for the outcast, the poor and social reform. This is especially seen in United Methodist Women and their support of women and children. The foundations of John Wesley of doing “all the good you can, in all the places you can, to all the people you can" has been my mantra for most for my adult life. Through the years, I have participated in a number of wonderful projects both inside and outside the walls of the church. However, it wasn’t until we started attending St. Johns that I realized that God wanted much more from me. He wanted me to take that step out in faith.
So last year when Pastor Sheryl and our Sunday school class studied the Change the World Series, the idea of a mission garden erupted from a number of small groups. This really lit a spark within me because one of my hobbies has always been planting and nurturing both a vegetable and flower garden. When other mothers were taken out for a nice dinner on mother’s day, my day entailed going to church and then coming home and digging in the dirt with my husband and my boys. My family accepted the fact that planting a garden was the best present they could give me. I still continue to try and plant my flowers in and around mother’s day. So the mission garden seemed like a wonderful way to put my faith into action. And boy has it been a journey!! In Hebrews 11:1 it says this about faith- “Faith is the reality of what we hope for. The proof of what we don’t see.” The garden started out with a small idea and has grown exponentially into a wonderful community outreach. I have learned through my faith journey, there are bumps and obstacles; and this “garden of faith” was no different. There have been numerous challenges and this year one of the major ones was the extreme drought conditions. One of my tasks as a member of the garden team was to water. For those of you that don’t know I sing in the choir at the 900 service and so once rehearsals were over I volunteered to serve by watering each Wed night after work. Yes, it was hot and dry but I found it so peaceful sitting under the shade tree, cranking up my Christian praise music on my phone and marveling at the wonder of creation & God’s touch. It allowed me time just to talk to GOD and listen to Him. What a gift the hot summer days gave me. But it also showed me how faith can grow just as the garden was growing. As I looked out over the garden and its growth week after week, I realized more and more how this mission is allowing us all to become more connected to our creator by strengthening our faith through service to others. It was so evident as I watched a multi-generational group of people picking the fruits of all our labor. How great was GOD through all of this!!! The bounty of the garden truly exhibited God’s handiwork. I am just going to share a few stats with you too can see the magnitude of the lives that were touched with this mission.
- Over 6 tons of produce collected
- Places where the vegetables were distributed: Glen-Ed pantry, Alton Food Crisis Center, Leslie Bates Davies Neighborhood Center, Emmanuel UMC for their free lunch Friday meal
- Approx. 50 servants from St. Johns helped with the garden and 20 members of Mt Joy.
Just as the mission garden continues to demand attention and so does my faith journey. It needs nurturing to be productive. I have a love for gardening, but through my faith journey I have discovered my passion of wanting to connect people within the church into those roles they are passionate about. Places where they can not only serve but also develop a deeper relationship with God. So I am serving on the vision team where I feel the essence of my faith is St. Johns vision. It is the constant forward motion of blending good works with faith that allows us to truly be the beacons of faith focusing our passions and gifts to reflect Christ’s love to the world.
We must be generous with our lives. By opening up to others, we’ll prompt others to open up with God. We are here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world whether that’s through Winter patrol, TWIGS, the mission garden, faith coalition project, serving in worship or many other opportunities here at St. Johns. We are called to live Externally Focused Lives.
I would like to close with this quote from Martin Luther King Jr.
"Everyone can be great because everyone can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't even have to make your subject and your verb agree... You only need a heart full of grace...a soul generated by love." —Martin Luther King, Jr.
Written by Jackie Snider, Submitted by Beth Miramonti