Moving into our home in September of 2005 was a monumental decision. The location was perfect, we thought, as it is directly across from the high school. Being a youth pastor, all kinds of visions of huge youth gatherings in my basement were rolling around my head. And now, three years later, none of those have taken place. Why not?
As we moved in, we also were very excited about beginning a garden the following Spring. We planted heavily, fought the deer, squirrels and occasional ground-hogs to harvest wonderful crops. The garden caught the eyes of our neighbors. So, with neighbors on either side of us, we contributed to their evening meals with beans, zuchinni, corn, peas, strawberries and tomatoes. Unbeknownst to us, there was a 'neighborhood' joke about how no-one could grow tomatoes. And then we showed up. Last year we had 36 tomato plants. Yes, you read that right, 36 tomato plants. And our neighbors took notice.
Last night as I got home from a long day at the office, and then youth group, I wandered out to the garden. It was about 9pm. As I turned on my sprinkler system, I heard a neighbor holler something at me. It was a neighbor I had not met yet, and so I walked down the hill and introduced myself. About 40 minutes later, I left, having met her and her husband. They shared the joke about the tomato growing and kept commenting on how good our garden looks already. I assured them that they would get tomatoes this year. They were politely arguing but, they are going to get the tomatoes. Even if I have to buy the best from the produce stand.
This is an unreached family in my "backyard". I am going to continue to take the produce that God blesses us with and reach into these homes surrounding me. Already we have forged strong relationships with 3 of our neighbors, and now there is an opportunity for a fourth. With one family we are now able to discuss Biblical topics and give advice - they even ask for prayer. With one elderly neighbor, she keeps commenting on how we are "good neighbors" and prayerfully we will have inroads to show her and her husband how a life transformed by the love of Christ lives.
Does my garden lead to God? I don't know, but I am willing to use every tool available to reach the lost community around me. But what about the high school kids? Oh - I have several that walk through my yard each day. Maybe I can think of something to get them to stop and talk. With God's leading, perhaps we can see a spiritual harvest.