Tag: Ministry

Are Christians Still Salty?

 

shutterstock_225165391This morning, I went with my daughter’s church youth group to a local farm to harvest sweet potatoes. The farm’s name is Serenity Farms. The man who ran things, Bernie Fowler Jr., told us the the farm’s story after we’d finished taking our turn digging in the field. He’d been a developer who hit a very low spot in his life during the housing market crash. In addition to his business collapsing, he went through a long and bitter divorce, and his daughter ran off with a heroin addict, had a baby, and became an addict herself. He contemplated suicide, but instead turned to his faith and found solace in helping others.

On what he described as a prompting of the Holy Spirit, Bernie stopped by the farm to talk to the owner about an idea he had. The farm was on the verge of bankruptcy, and he and the farmer began working together. Bernie’s initiative is called Farming4Hunger. They grow crops, assisted by inmates from the local pre-release detention center. Volunteer groups harvest the vegetables, and it is immediately delivered to local food banks, soup kitchens, and — on occasion — directly to poor families in the area. Since 2012, they have grown and delivered millions of pounds of food.

The inmates receive mentoring while working at the farm. There is a 0% recidivism rate among the inmates who’ve worked there. Several of them spoke to the group about what work at the farm has meant to them. For most, it was the first time they had anyone take time to teach them anything of worth and show them a better way. They spoke of the acceptance and lack of judgment they received at the farm and what it meant to them, and how they, too, have found fulfillment in helping others.