Evangelism can go in hand with the soil. Ming Nguong Methodist Church, Bintangor, created a Gospel Garden of fruits and vegetables, to link with the community, opening up a door for evangelism.
The current pastor-in-charge is Pastor Wong Siew Ting. According to her, the idea of using fruits and vegetables to spread the Good News initiated this garden. At first they planted bananas. Banana in Mandarin “Xiang Jiao” sounds like “interaction with others”. Thus, their intention is to go out and make friends with people. In early 2019, the banana orchard was infested by virus and had poor harvest and the programme was suspended.
With the efforts put in by the lay leader, Mr Yii Hee Sieng and the executive committee members, especially Mr Kiu Chiong Chai, who helped to resolve the problems, the garden came back to life with multiple crops in October 2019, after months of hard work. On Christmas Eve, they harvested more than a hundred pumpkins and they became love gifts for Christmas.
The following are some interesting notes Pastor Wong shared.
“As it was near Christmas, we planned a few places for gathering, so we sent out invitations to ‘potential’ people in the vicinity. I used pumpkins in my sharing to make a deeper impression of the message. After the gathering, pumpkins were given to the people.”
Pumpkin is also known as “Jingua” in Mandarin, which means golden gourd. The pastor used it to illustrate “the golden colour of heaven”, bringing the non-believers a better understanding of the gospel.
“As time passes, more varieties of vegetables are harvested. I would incorprate the names of these vegetables, their properties and tastes in my sharing, to evangelise or to share with people who had not heard of the gospel. In the Bible, Jesus also used many fruits and vegetables in his parables. In days to come, I think the various bodies of the church could even have their gatherings in the garden for a real experience.”
“At present our garden is well planned and planted with all types of vegetables and fruits. The church has requested each fellowship to ‘adopt’ plots of the garden to maintain it and care for it. Weeding is like taking away sins, watering and giving fertiliser is like nourishing our spiritual lives and keeping them from withering. As such, the church members have a deeper impression of God’s will for us and through us.”
This is practical education and she sincerely hopes that the Gospel Garden will also help to enhance the spirituality of the congregation apart from sharing with others as love gifts.
The Gospel Garden Upgraded
The Gospel Garden was firstly initiated at the end of 2016 by Rev Tony Chieng, then Superintendent of Bintangor District. At first, the plan was to plant only bananas and to use them as love gifts when interacting and building bonds with the community, both Christians and non-Christians alike.
The project took off in 2017 under the then pastor-in-charge, Pastor Lu Ya Ping, resulting in an abundant harvest in 2018. The task was subsequently taken up by Pastor Wong, the current pastor, who continued the good work. But in 2019, the garden was infested by virus and new plans had to be made for it. The failure has not deterred God’s plan. This is what they are enjoying now – a garden full of fruits and vegetables to continue the advancement of the gospel. We have made the introduction at the beginning but it is not the end. The garden is full of papayas, cangkuk manis, spring onion, Taiwan broad beans and sweet potatoes. As for fruit trees, we have tropical fruits such as mangoes, durians, rambutans, golden fruit, dragon fruits, jack fruit, pomelo, laichee, longan and so on.
We hope that these fruits and vegetables will continue to be blessed, bearing good fruits to bring more people to God.