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Isaiah 61:11 says “For as the earth brings forth its sprouts, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to sprout up, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to sprout up before all the nations.” This particular memoir of Kyra Alvarez, senior Christian Ministries major, reflects on the seeds that took root in the jade of China. And we must beg the question: who are we that God would be mindful of us to allow notice of the work of His hands? To work in the fields alongside our Father?

To help answer that question, we meet J+J. The soil of their souls have been softened over the past years. Rain fell when Team China stepped foot onto Chinese soil, this cloudburst following them to the tiny mustard seeds in J+J’s hearts. Kyra and Emily gave the bridge analogy to J+J after moments of purpose-driven time spent deep in fellowship, weeding the fields and slowly restoring the earth. When asked where she stood on the scribbled bridge, J pointed to the latter end of the bridge and declared, “I believe.” She said a salvation prayer, of it Kyra remembered, “She said ‘thank you’ in Mandarin. She gets it. If anything, for her to be thanking the Lord at the end of her prayer, she gets it.” Then, they watched J clarify the concept of the cross to J. “Sweet J prayed for J, for them to be together in that, to hold hands, to be united in Jesus, in that common family bond,” was God’s intention of kinship Kyra witnessed. The immediacy of J’s reaction to accepting Christ’s love for her manifested in sharing from the overflow. How often do we allow ourselves to be overcome and overwhelmed with Christ that our reaction to His action of love is to turn towards those around us?

But the growing garden of J+J is not one without God’s tender and tending hand, one that understands the growing  process that doesn’t desert the growing pains. For years prior to Team China’s arrival and chance to turn to the chapters of the gospel, God had been introducing Himself to them through mentors to demonstrate, deliver, and depict the image of God. Kyra’s eyes were opened, her hands softened “to see the fruits of the seeds they had planted. God had been pursuing J+J for their lifetime. He pursues us before we’re born to the moment we give our lives to Him, and then in that too. We were given the opportunity to show them that God’s been pursuing them.”

It’s child’s play to stutter and stumble in the smallness of who we are. But the largeness of God floods our terrain of reservation. It’s in our shift of perspective, the opening of our eyes, the stillness of our souls where the wildflowers gleam beneath the beam of God’s glory. And to answer the initial question that set our feet on this dirt path of inquiry, we find that the answer lies in us being the Gardener’s beloved bloom, nothing else, simply His.

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