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Congregation plants seeds of hope

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12-year-old Columbus girl recently started using most of her babysitting earnings to help support a Third World child each month through a Christian relief agency.

So she thinks nothing of the hard work of literally getting her hands dirty in Ogilville Christian Church’s latest project to help the less fortunate.

“I think it’s pretty cool,” Bailey Martin said, adding that she feels no need to focus on herself. “I already have a lot of things myself. I would much rather find ways to help someone else.”

She is among about 15 second- through sixth-graders willing to bloom where they have been planted recently — right in the backyard garden of the church on Indiana 58, about 10 miles southwest of Columbus. The four-row plot looks a lot like any other garden, except for a 5-gallon bucket sitting on a teepee-like stand at one end of the patch of soil.

Several thin hoses with tiny holes placed strategically carry water from the bottom of the bucket to various below-the-soil plantings of potatoes, onion, corn, squash and other vegetables. The basic irrigation system, perfected by Chapin Living Waters ministry in Watertown, N.Y., allows people in areas with hard, rocky soil to grow their own food.

The church will polish its use of what is known as bucket gardening so members can take the concept to Haiti by 2016 to help nourish its people, said the Rev. Martin Wright, church pastor.

“It’s been proven that it works,” Wright said, kneeling at the edge of the church garden as he watched youngsters complete vegetable planting. “It’s a process that gets all the water to the seeds in the ground without feeding the weeds.”

Chapin Living Waters leaders said that four, 25-foot rows of food can feed a family of four for about a year, especially since’s Haiti’s weather supports year-round growing.

“We realized that, if we’re going to teach this to others, we will need to have done it at least over a summer or two,” Wright said.

The youngsters working a few feet away from him while he spoke are learning more than sowing and reaping.

“A lot of these kids haven’t been raised near a garden,” Wright said. “So doing this gives them something of a way to learn a biblical context.”

With good reason.

Moments earlier, a church youth leader, Zech Riggs related to youngsters a parable from the Gospels of a sower sowing seed seeking a harvest.

“Jesus used planting and farming examples a lot,” Riggs said, standing barefoot in the garden’s dirt. “And there’s also the examples from the Bible that we’ve come from the dust, and we end up as dust.”

Riggs told his charges that because the food from this trial garden will be given to others, from neighbors to the needy, the planted seeds should represent seeds of the gospel of love to them.

Riggs and his wife, Julie, hope to be among the Ogilville contingent that eventually will travel to Haiti to teach bucket gardening — and let Haitians know that church members care.

Ten-year-old Haley Cook, who normally pulls weeds in her grandmother’s garden, was quickly won over.

“I just think it’s really neat that we can do all this stuff (for others),” she said.

Riggs loves the idea of turning youngsters’ focus to the needy. He went on a mission trip to Mexico as an eighth-grader to help build houses for the poo, and found that it built a new-found compassion within him. He hopes the same will happen with this work, both for him and others.

“This,” Riggs said, “is just a simple, practical way of spreading God’s message.”

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