The smell of dirt used to remind me of hot summer days, snapping green beans off the plant while devising ways to evade this chore. As a kid, I didn’t appreciate the process of cultivation, of growth, or of harvesting. I certainly didn’t care about green beans, and it did not seem worth the effort when you can simply buy them in a can.

But today, as I walked the perimeter of our property the smell of dirt filled the air, and it filled me with a completely different emotion. Beyond the dread of the sheer work required to tame this ground, I was filled with eager excitement, aware of the endless possibilities and an invitation to unleash the potential buried in this dirt.

The property we purchased in Choma in 2012 was only about 30% developed. While we are having a blast renovating and beautifying these existing spaces, that still leaves us with 70% garden canvas, waiting to be tamed and brought to life. As I stood there, the Lord was reminding me of the garden and how He designed and invited humanity to partner with Him to cultivate this garden into a city. His scandalous invitation to unearth His Kingdom, into the soil and into humanity… and, He wants to do this both in us and through us.

As I reflect on this past year, I am reminded of this process of cultivation. We cannot bear fruit without first cultivating the land, planting the seeds, watering, weeding, and waiting. And God is not in a hurry.

This has been a year of cultivating our land. Quite literally as I sit here under our newly constructed dining roof. I am listening to the sound of the excavators tilling up our land. I can distantly hear the banging and cutting of metal as the construction crew bends, fabricates, and builds the new roof over the extended coffee shop veranda. We are cultivating the spaces where fruit will come, lives will be transformed.

We are also cultivating figuratively as we have spent the year establishing our foundation and growing in our identity and our calling. God has given us a conviction from the scripture in Isaiah 61.

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion— to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified. They shall build up the ancient ruins; they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations.”

Jesus’ ministry was to restore those that come to Him. This is and was His promise, and His work – to bind up the brokenhearted, proclaim liberty to the captives, comfort the mourning, and give them a new name. From this wholeness and newness the Church finds in Him, He equips us with everything we need to rebuild and restore our ruined cities, that which has been devastated for generations.

As a ministry, we have said “YES!” to this invitation, to this mandate of the Church. To follow Jesus and be His family, vibrant and full of His power. We have chosen to believe Him – that through us He will transform our city of Choma into the likeness of the Kingdom of God.

We have so much vision for where we want to be, for the city we want to build on our land and rebuild in Choma. We have so much hope for the generations we will see transformed by the gospel. And yet, the Lord reminds us that He is not in a hurry. This is our land for the long haul – and we must be patient, taking the time to cultivate and establish this firm foundation. First, we must get rooted in our calling and not grow anxious to see the fruit. We must not be in a hurry.

This has been our 2021. The smell of soil in our faces and the vision of this kingdom city in our hearts. Unlike the green beans, there’s no Kingdom in a can. We are growing to appreciate the joy of the process, of cultivating, and the satisfaction of seeing things grow.

ABBY VAN PEURSEM
POETICE CEO

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