On Sunday, January 9, 2011, I got ready for church service as I always do by picking out my clothing, showering, blow drying my hair and putting on my makeup. I arrived at the service a few minutes early and found my usual seat. I had no idea that on this day the future of our church would change and that many would reap the harvest from the seeds that were about to be planted in each of our hearts. God had placed something very special in the heart of our pastor and he was about to share it with all of us.
After studying and praying about a chapter in the Bible and the people reflected in it, Pastor Craig realized that perhaps God was revealing something to him. Isaiah 58, which can be found in the Old Testament between the Song of Solomon and Jeremiah, is a chapter that provoked Pastor Craig to begin asking God why anyone would want to be a part of Fairview’s church body. With all of the programs, studies and outreach opportunities Fairview has to offer, Pastor Craig still felt as though our church body and community needed something more – something different. Craig began speaking about the Israelite people and the results of self-centered religion. He opened his heart as he shared his desire to be a part of a group of believers who felt strongly about what God’s heart desired. If we were to concentrate on God’s heart we would understand what God has commissioned us to do. God loves each and every person unconditionally and we are called to love one another with that same depth of love. Outreach programs are wonderful, have a great place in every church body and ultimately benefit many communities, but Pastor Craig had a vision…he had a hope. With acres of land to spare would Fairview host sporting events or build a football field or a new building? Pastor Craig found himself drawn to those acres and often found himself praying outside. You can hear Pastor Craig’s full sermon here.
There are several examples of stones used as memorials of God’s work, or as reminders to seek God’s desires and not our own, in the Old Testament. An example might be in Joshua 24, when Joshua re-establishes the covenant with the Israelites, and sets up a stone as a memorial. We must teach our children about the great acts of God as recorded in Scripture and what God’s heart desires of us. Remembrance stones or Memorial Stones as they are sometiems called, are often tangible things that plant seeds in the hearts of children and adults. Pastor Craig, like many of us, have memories of working with our parents and families to help others. He remembered the time his parents took him to a farm that a church in Mount Airy, NC had planted. Craig remembers being nine or ten years old when his parents took him to this farm to harvest potatoes for an orphanage. With he and the other children in tow of the big tractor, they harvested the abundance of potatoes being pulled up out of the ground. Craig fondly remembers the games the children played as they gathered the crop. The crop was then delivered to a local orphanage where Pastor Craig and his family stayed a few days. Craig vividly remembers watching the children joyously peel the potatoes. This Remembrance Stone, or seed that was planted in Craig, would be watered and nurtured over the years and would soon become what we now know as “The Isaiah 58 Project”.
This was not to be a communal garden where people come and plant their crops for lack of area in their yards, but instead a place where our congregation and community would grow together as we planted, watered and harvested these crops that we will give away to anyone in need. Five months later, we are now harvesting cucumbers, both red and white potatoes, zucchini, yellow squash and tomatoes. Soon to come are beans, watermelon and pumpkins. Fairview has a Children’s Garden as well. One of the most beautiful things about this project is that many of us have gotten to know one another even better and all generations have worked together to feed a need in our community and to do what Pastor Craig envisioned and what God desires from each us – to be the hands and feet of Christ. To learn more about how to register your family or to get involved in some way please go to: Isaiah 58 Project
All are invited to help harvest the crops, take home vegetables if you need, bring a bag of vegetables to someone who is in need or to come and work as a body. Please visit the website for more information. You may register a family that you know is in need or just come and help us pick. What a great opportunity for your family to come and help harvest as seeds are planted in your child’s heart.