Category Archives: Ministry

Dry Bones Dance

“Every now and then I seem to dream these dreams
Where the dead ones live and the hurt ones heal
Touching that miraculous circumstance
Where the blind ones see and the dry bones dance”

Mark Heard’s song, “Dry Bones Dance,” has long been one of my favorites. It, of course, alludes to Ezekiel 37, where Ezekiel sees a valley full of dry bones, which God miraculously restores to life. The image is wild, improbable and maybe just a little frightening.

However, it is also a vivid picture of something that is beyond hope – these aren’t just dead bodies after all, they are bones, and dry ones at that – being restored and blessed.

It is a vision that often comes to my mind when I look at a devastated watershed, and the people who are visibly suffering from its barrenness. In countless places, I have walked over hillsides that are dry, devoid of topsoil, with almost nothing growing. Sometimes the eroded slopes are scorched from burning. The inhabitants struggle with hunger and malnutrition, often eating only once a day. Hope is hard to find.

Yet I have also had the incredible privilege of seeing life breathed into these communities, of seeing them come alive. Because of our work in watershed restoration and agroecology, this transformation from death to life is often very visible. That which appeared dead begins to grow again. Streams begin to flow. Trees appear. Crop yields increase. Birds come back. The land flourishes. As the land flourishes the people start to flourish.

However, maybe the most exciting renewal is less immediately visible. Hope returns. Community members realize that they have what it takes to change their situation and forge a better future. In Ezekiel 37, God says that once the dry bones come to life, “Then you will know that I am the Lord.” Watching watersheds and villages come to life, I have often been overwhelmed by God’s incredible redemptive power. I have heard many of our local partners express the same sentiments. Then – together – we have known that He is Lord.

As exciting as it is, the redemption that we see physically and even spiritually is just a foretaste of what is promised. Easter is a great reminder of that promise of something even greater and far more lasting. Once again I drift into the words of Mark Heard:

And I long, long, long
For a world without end
The kind of thing that I’ve never seen
but in my dreams

He is risen! He is risen indeed.

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Our Secret Weapon

unnamedToday is a special day at Plant With Purpose. Indeed, the first Friday of the month always is. That is the day we have all set aside with our partners around the world to spend time in prayer for one another.

Throughout the month we work together as one team to bring hope and opportunity to the destitute, to steward God’s creation and to share the good news of the Kingdom of God. We are very much together in spirit. But one day a month we are even more reminded of our fellowship as we lift one another’s burdens in prayer. Our Director of Field Operations, who has many years working in secular organizations, marks this as one significant difference. He often refers to it as our secret weapon.

Some of the prayers we shared to day included prayers of thanksgiving for Paulette, our cook in Fonds-Verrettes, Haiti who was told by local doctors that she would lose her leg after an automobile accident. However, Carlos and our Dominican Staff stepped in and helped her to get surgery in the Dominican Republic, where she is now recovering well and being visited and encouraged by her Dominican colleagues.

We also prayed for:

  • The wedding of Felix Kiruhura, our environment technician in Congo (and one of my companions last month on our trek through the Kakumba watershed.)
  • The launch of Plant With Purpose’s international fellowship program. There were prayers for the fellow going to live in the Dominican Republic for a year, and for the graduate student who will be spending time in Mexico.
  • Jared White, our Africa program officer and his wife Doreen as they go through the often difficult visa process to move from Uganda to San Diego.

There were also a lot of prayers for specific communities and projects.

Common themes for all of us included:

  • Prayers for peace and political stability. Elections are or have been a concern for all eight countries.
  • Prayers for rain, or an end to drought. The families we serve practice rainfed agriculture so the importance of reliable rain cannot be emphasized enough.
  • Prayers for health – many of us are dealing with illness or injury.

We also prayed for each of you who support Plant With Purpose. In fact, it was Luis in Mexico who exhorted us to remember and pray for “Every heart that gives with joy to support the work of Plant With Purpose. May God continue blessing you.”

We would love to have you join us each month. If you are interested in joining our prayer team just contact me and we will send you our monthly prayer letter.

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Standing in the Need of Prayer

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Members of the prayer group in Uvira

I am sad to admit that I am not always very spiritually sensitive. As a result, prayer often gets neglected. Cathi Lundy, who served as our board chair for a number of years, was of great assistance in this regard, always remembering to bring prayer into our meetings and planning.

However, over the years, as visits to the field have become more routine, prayer has often been forgotten. Every once in awhile, when our church sends out a short-term team to another ministry and supporting prayer teams are organized, I feel a sense of conviction, and remember how important that preparation was to my early travel.

As I wrote last week, my recent trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo was one of the most amazing trips I have taken in years. It is probably no coincidence that prayer played a big part in the trip preparation.

It wasn’t particularly part of my preparation. But when I arrived in Congo, Birori, our local director, told me that a group had been praying for our visit for weeks. The last night we were in Congo, he invited us to his home for dinner and to meet his wife and the prayer team.

As we were introduced, he explained to us that they were neighbors from many churches that he had gathered around him nearly a year ago, when he was first considering the position with Plant With Purpose. They had prayed for him and for the pilot project, and then the communities we would be working in. They had prayed for safety for the staff and for openness on the part of the villagers. They prayed for the success of the savings groups and farm experiments. Once Birori began working with us, they began to pray for the other countries and projects as well. On a monthly basis they had received prayer requests from Haiti, the Dominican Republic and other Plant With Purpose partners, and spent time together in fervent prayer for these brothers and sisters whom they had never met.

When they learned of our planned visit, they began to pray for the trip and for the safety and health of each of the four of us, by name. One young man, who works as the night watchman at the local office, had spent an entire day fasting and praying for the trip before we arrived.

After an expansive dinner with the group, we closed our time together with prayer and worship (which includes both singing and dancing). They assured us that they would continue praying for Plant With Purpose Congo and for all our partners. They also stressed that their prayers were not just for our existing programs but also that we would grow to serve many more countries. As we walked back to the guesthouse, I was filled with gratitude and challenged to examine the role of prayer in my own life and ministry.

By the way, if you are interested in joining us, we send out a monthly prayer letter with input gathered from our office and from all seven of our partners. We set aside part of the first Friday of each month in every office around the world to pray for one another and we would love to have you join us. Just email us at info@plantwithpurpose.org and ask for the prayer letter.

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