By Rez Gopez-Sindac
Each year for the past 13 years, Vineyard Boise in Boise, ID, has given away as many as 30,000 pounds of locally grown vegetables to needy families in the community as part of its weekly benevolence program. The fresh produce comes from Garden O’ Feedin’ — a three-acre sustainable community garden on the church’s campus and the congregation’s boldest environmental stewardship effort since its founding in 1989.
“I got so much pushback from the evangelical community back then,” says Tri Robinson, founding pastor of Vineyard Boise and author of Saving God’s Green Earth, a book that expresses Robinson’s conviction that caring for God’s creation is a biblical mandate and, therefore, the responsibility of Christians.
Today, the conversation has completely changed. As Robinson explains, Christians have realized that environmental stewardship isn’t in conflict with their faith or political beliefs. In fact, he says he’s never been busier working with organizations and churches from various denominations to replicate the same concept of creation care in many poor villages overseas.
Garden O’ Feedin’ has since become a training place for church members, people in the community — even the University of Idaho — and organizations from all over the country wanting to learn how to grow and manage a sustainable source of locally grown food.
For members of Vineyard Boise, the training gives them the confidence to reach out to the poor across the globe. “Everything we do overseas, we do at home first,” says Robinson — who, after 23 years of serving as senior pastor, now fully devotes his time to leading i-61.org (Isaiah 61), a ministry that rallies like-minded organizations to expand the kingdom of God in a more holistic way.
Robinson says churches have “connected the dots” and found that the message of environmental stewardship has everything to do with the issues that are dear to God’s heart: poverty, hunger and justice. “We need to be on the cutting edge of it because we’re the ones that God commissioned to take care of creation and the poor,” he says.