16 August, 2015
Cannington Community Garden – by Sarina Taituave
I recently attended the Cannington Church Camp in Western Australia to celebrate my brother-in-law’s 40th birthday. My husband Jeremy and I had been through a tough few weeks, and so were looking forward to some quality time away with family. What we experienced was far more than we had expected. My role at ADRA Australia is to oversee local community projects that churches operate, and these often include community gardens. Cannington Church started a community garden a couple of years ago, and I had heard amazing stories about how God had blessed them with volunteers and equipment.
When Jeremy and I arrived at Camp Logue Brook on the 27th of September, his sister Gabby and her husband Ben told us that there was a couple who had started attending their church after being involved in the community garden. This amazed me. When we first launched the community garden projects, never had I dreamed that God would use these projects in such a powerful way. I was then told that not only were Chris and Kylie getting baptised, but they were renewing their vows on the same day! To experience the love, forgiveness, passion and gratefulness that this couple portrayed on their special day was truly inspirational. I managed to get some time to talk with Chris about his journey. This is his story… A manager of the community garden and faithful church member named Heather met Chris. She offered him free bread, and invited him to visit the garden – and so began a friendship. The short time that Chris committed to working in the garden soon turned into a 13 hour day of hard work and happiness, and Chris hasn’t missed a week since.
Chris had been separated from his wife Kylie for three years due to some tough circumstances in their relationship. They had minimal contact with each other. However, as they gradually reunited earlier this year, Chris invited Kylie to the garden with him. As they sparked friendships with their fellow gardeners, many of whom were members of the local Adventist church, Chris and Kylie’s interest in God grew. Over time, the pair attended an occasional church service together, and the congregation welcomed them whole-heartedly. Chris claims it was this outpouring of warmth and friendship that led Kylie and himself to bible studies with Ben, and eventually to their decision to give their lives to Christ. Along with his new friends in the church, Chris arranged a surprise vow renewal ceremony for Kylie and himself at the Cannington Church Camp. This new journey that Chris and Kylie are on together isn’t always easy, but they now have an incredible support system and relationship with God to help guide them through the tough times. ADRA’s community garden project has given Chris and Kylie a sense of belonging. In our gardens, we can nurture people as well as plants! Chris feels that everyone’s opinion is valued, and his self-worth is boosted. When Chris is feeling depressed, he knows he can visit the garden and feel at home with his new church family. “It’s the group of people that makes a big difference,” says Chris, “I’d be lost without them.” While reflecting upon this incredible journey, I am reminded of what we aim to do at ADRA Australia. To “journey with others in submission to Christ to restore life, beauty and goodness so that we may bring glory to God.”