I love growing things.
This year, I started a garden, and while I am far from being an expert, I have found it rewarding to work the ground and reap the benefits (literally!). From herbs to kale to flowers, I have learned about soil types, plant foods, and more as I care for my plants. Some have thrived, and others never even sprouted one leaf.
I also love houseplants, and I have had an ever-growing collection of indoor plants since college. But, like my gardening skills, I am not perfect in my ability to keep my indoor plants alive.
One summer, I had a huge gnat problem in the soil of my houseplants. I tried every remedy possible, including replacing all of the soil and treating each plant with neem oil, and finally eradicated most of them, but in the process, I killed one of my plants. Thinking it was worthless, I tossed the dead plant into the woods that surround my apartment complex. Didn't give it a second thought.
Fast-forward a month or two.
My roommate, who loves to take walks in the woods around our complex, came rushing into our apartment exclaiming, "Look at this plant I found!" In her hand was a small but healthy plant that looked quite familiar to me. This type of house plant does not grow natively in South Carolina, so it couldn't have been a coincidence. Sure enough, my roommate had found that exact plant I had tossed out. It had taken root, sprouted new leaves, and was thriving in it's new environment.
It had a new hope.
What can we learn from this?
This plant taught me about enduring hope and second chances. Like my plant, the men and women we serve here at Oliver Gospel have been "tossed out" in some way by their employer, their family, or their community. They have been told that they don't have value. They have been told there is no hope for them.
Yet, that goes against what the God of the Universe says about them.
"But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ - by grace you have been saved - and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus." Ephesians 2:4-6 ESV
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." 1 Peter 1:3 ESV
These men and women, just like you and me, have been given a new hope in Christ.
They don't just get second chances. They get third, fourth, and fifth chances. What the world has deemed as a hopeless or worthless cause, Christ has made worthy.
Part of our mission is to restore hope that has been lost or stripped from these men and women. We seek to take every opportunity to remind them of their worth. To remind them how Christ sees them - a new creation in Him. They are found, not forgotten.
If you have a plant in your home, let it become a reminder of hope. A reminder of second chances. A reminder that what the world calls hopeless or worthless, God has created with value and has given a new hope through His Son.