‘Rooted and Reaching’

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

Colossians 2:6-7

By Jolene Hodder, Commissioner –

Trees are extremely important in Kenya. They provide timber, firewood, fruit, medicine, shade, tools, and even weapons. If you have never tried brushing your teeth with a twig, you should try it. Trees are helpful with erosion control. They protect animals in the wild from predators, and they can transform an ugly barren land into a beautiful lush landscape.

One of my favorite traditions in the Kenya West Territory is the ceremony of planting a tree. To honor a leader or special visitor, an opportunity is given to plant a sapling to commemorate the special occasion. As I take part in the ceremony, which is almost every weekend, I thank the Lord that he planted the Hodder family in Kenya 11 years ago. He chose the spot where we were to be planted and prepared the soil. 1 Corinthians 7:17 says that, “Nevertheless, each person should live as a believer in whatever situation the Lord has assigned to them, just as God has called them.” The Message says it this way: ” Where you are right now is God’s place for you. Live and obey and love and believe right there.”

As we allowed ourselves to be rooted, we found a new home. The warmth and support of our new Kenyan friends enabled us to grow as a family, and God’s showers of blessings made it possible for us to produce fruits for the work of the Kingdom. A Nigerian proverb says, “A single tree doesn’t make a forest.” We quickly learned that when everyone rooted in God’s love works together, God can and does create something beautiful.

The lesson of the trees has changed our lives. In her new book, Rooted and Reaching, our daughter Jessy shares the lessons that she learned while living in Kenya. With each book sold, a tree will be planted in Kenya. In fact, from book proceeds thus far, 4,900 trees grown by prisoners in Kakamega have already been embedded in the African soil. These trees have been planted at Army schools, corps, and other institutions throughout Western Kenya as a reminder that, as Christians, we are rooted and established in God’s amazing love (Ephesians 3:14-19).

The final lesson that the trees offer us is that our branches can only reach high if our roots grow deep where God has planted us. It is our prayer that we will continue to stand tall and upright, pointing, reaching, giving life, solid, sturdy, rooted in God’s love, and forever green.   

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