Over the past year, I could hardly go and work at the community garden without looking at the unfinished pavilion and think about how in world it was going to get finished. I know that when we go to church, we sing about a God that can move mountains. We hold up our hands in worship saying that we have seen God move mountains and sing that we know He will do it again. We read in scripture how God can do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20) and walk away thinking that God only works that way for other people.
Or maybe, I am just the only one who talks a big faith talk, who knows all of the scripture, but walks in a way of unbelief. It is not that I don’t believe God is the only One who can keep all of His promises, it is just that I am too practical. Practically speaking, if things are going to get done, I work hard and they get done: my strength, my power, and my praise. My practicality masks my pride and my lack of faith.
That is why the pavilion in Growing Hope Garden was such a matter of anxiety. What should have started off as a matter of prayer, was a matter of overwhelming stress. Well, stress and frustration. How could they have left the project unfinished? How are we going to afford to finish this? What are we supposed to do with all of this now? This is not what I had planned.
I would love to say that it was shortly after the summer finished that I started praying about the pavilion and trusting God to get it finished. Nope. That is what most people expect of me, but honestly that is not me more often than I like to admit. I am good at putting on a church face that is deceptive of what is really in my heart. What was in my heart was anger. When the anger passed, fatalism set in with me. How is the world will we get this done?
It was in October when we started our Bible study with the most dedicated supporters of our ministry (George and Peggy), that the words of faith we uttered that shook me to my core. We were talking about the pavilion when George said “I have been praying about that, and God is going to take care of it.”
“God is going to take care of it.” All of those months I had been frustrated and angry, George had been praying. His prayers had given him peace that God was going to take care of this. That is when I started praying about the pavilion.
The prayers did not stay the same through the whole process. My first prayers were for wisdom. We needed to know what to do and when to get it done. We needed to learn more about how you even put on trusses and metal roofing. Then prayers moved to having God work on people’s hearts to come help us.
There are two contracting companies who are close to the garden and I began praying that God would move in their hearts to come help with the project. You see, I thought I had the solution and I just needed God to come in and work with my plan. Just like everything else for the garden, all of my plans fell through.
May arrived and I began working nearly full time for two weeks calling contractors and writing letters to every non-profit organization in Joplin asking for help to finish the pavilion. I met with two contractors who gave me advice on what to do next. I followed up with their advice and still we struck out with getting any kind of extra help.
June arrived and it became clear that we were going to have to set a work day to get the pavilion finished. My prayers now shifted from wisdom to praying that God would work on people’s hearts to come help us. God had to show up, because EVERY other way that I had tried to get assistance had failed. I knew in my heart that God was going to show up and He wasn’t going to share the glory with anyone else: even me.
June was good for my soul as I looked through pictures, I was reminded of how God had already moved in the garden. How He had already worked in changing an abandoned city lot into a thriving garden. Then it was in June when we harvested the potatoes we planted in March. It was an amazing harvest. We put in 45lbs of seed potatoes and ended up with 600lbs of potatoes from our patch. We fed over fifty-three families in our church.
June was also good as God spoke through a series of people and messages to me. My soul was reassured that my decision to take this step in faith for ministry was indeed what I needed to do. I was able to meet again with a dear friend in Atlanta who confirmed in me things my heart needed to hear. Other friends in Atlanta shared how God was moving and how I could be a part of their ministry. My skills are some that they need and now I had a variety of places where I could serve.
We came back from our trip to Atlanta the first of July. It was the first week of July when we ordered the trusses and shortly after that we ordered the metal for the roof of the pavilion. We began to pray fervently for God to work on people’s hearts to come work on the pavilion. There was no other option but to pray. I began to pray with the faith that I said I had. I prayed scripture and believed that if God had placed that peace and assurance on our hearts that He was going to get the pavilion finished, that He would do it.
We asked our Sunday school class to start praying. We asked for everyone to be praying specifically for men to come work. We needed two skilled workers and then a dozen other men to come work on the work day. We surrendered over the project to God. It was now on Him.
Scott and I kept on preparing and doing our other work as best as we could. We kept praying and walking in faith. I know there had been other times in my life when I had to have faith and trust God to handle things, but it had never been anything like this. For one of the first times in my adult life, I had to walk in the faith I said that I had. I believed that God was going to show up and do the work.
July 27th arrived. We thought there would be five men show up to work at 7am. When we started praying at the start of the project, we had seven men. Then over the course of the next half hour, more people kept coming. Men and women, church members, and community members. By 8am, I looked around and was amazed. There were over 30 people there to work or help the workers. We had asked for one generator and three were brought. We prayed for one or two skilled workers to run the project. We had two men who were contractors. One had built pole barns for 20 years. We had prayed for 15-20 men to come work. We had 15 men besides the two skilled workers.
I looked around and was overwhelmed. Not just had one prayer for the pavilion been answered, but EVERY prayer had been answered: in ways I could not have even planned. I had a friend say that the way God answered the prayers about pavilion had to be stamped on to my soul, but to be honest, they are BURNED into my soul.
God doesn’t just move mountains, He builds pavilions too. He doesn’t let you keep your surface level faith. He is not happy with a faith that sings songs, but tries to do it all on your own. He wants your ALL and sometimes puts you in the situation where your faith is forced to grow.
It took two more Saturdays of work to get the pavilion completely finished, but the men kept coming to work. More people in the community noticed what we were doing and started asking us about it. People have started coming to church because of the work in the garden. To God be the glory.
The Dedication Celebration is set for September. We get to celebrate with the community the work that is finished.