Growing on the Hill
by Kendall Herb
Winter is coming to an end. The sun begins to linger. Spring, around the corner, brings birds’ melodies and cool soaking rain. Anticipation. Tender green shoots start to break through the earth. New growth, out of a season of deep rest. And we are thankful.
“Let us acknowledge the Lord; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth” (Hosea 6:3).
Local Agriculture with a Global Purpose
Twenty minutes south of Dallas, off a busy highway, tucked behind grocery store warehouses and county truck yards, is a small grassy hill. There are fences, two barns, and a couple of white farmhouses. Cows and a few sheep dot the hill. Chickens peck at beetles under the old pecan tree. Stretching down the hillside are flowerbeds blanketed with fresh hay mulch, ready and waiting.
Two summers ago, on this grassy hill dotted with grazing animals, three families met. From different backgrounds and with varied gifts, God had led each of us down a different path to the same place—to this very hill. We carried different tools in our hands, but God had planted a similar dream in each heart. And the seed of the dream started to take root.
This is the Hill where my family and I now live. Located on Mars Road, it is named Mars Hill Farm, after the hill in first-century Athens where people gathered for religious conversations. My husband, Jonathan, journeyed through school with a degree in business and then fell in love with agriculture. As one of the managers of Mars Hill Farm, he is the brains behind the farming operation. I work with him, planting, harvesting, and testing new ideas. We are passionate about the sustainable farming methods laid out in the Bible and want to teach others how to replicate this model. We have found that farming stirs our affections for Jesus Christ, and it is to His glory that we strive for excellence in our work.
Our New Neighbors
Far off on a hill much like ours, in the country of Syria, war and devastation grew year after year. Towns were demolished. Buildings became mountains of broken cement and rebar. Families split apart. The government seemed more foe than friend. Chaos reigned. With little opportunity left for growth and flourishing, two men gathered their wives and children and said goodbye to uncles, aunts, cousins, mothers, and fathers. They left heart and home to take refuge somewhere. Somewhere with opportunities. After short stays in other places, they ended up in a land known for its opportunities.
Thousands of families from far off, war-torn hills and homes have sought refuge in Dallas, Texas. Men, women, and children, escaping with little but their lives, looked for a safe, sheltered place to land. These are our new neighbors—down the road, past the county truck yards, and a few minutes up that busy highway. They could use our welcome. And maybe a job. We three families (with the similar dream in our hearts) have had the privilege of helping some of these people from the broken places in the world.
Settling into the unfamiliar, these neighbors try to make a home for their families. Surrounded by strange foods, smells, customs, beliefs, and government, they are held back by an unknown language, creating a barrier to conversation, answers, and employment. They have many hurdles to jump through. On home soil, the Syrian men were independent, capable, successful. On foreign ground, they are deemed by many to be dependent and incapable. A liability. But because of God, we know differently and we see differently.
“The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God” (Leviticus 19:34).
Reaping the Harvest
Today, twenty minutes south of Dallas, off a busy highway, tucked behind grocery store warehouses and county truck yards, the unassuming small grassy hill has come to life.
Cows and sheep still graze and chickens peck at beetles under the old pecan tree. The sprawling rows of flower beds still lay ready and waiting for seeds to be tucked in the earth. But now, able hands from all around the world dig in deep together. Relationships are being cultivated between unlikely neighbors. English lessons happen over familiar cups of hot tea. Each neighbor shares in the cultivating work, side by side. There is nothing special about the hill. It is not a better hill than any other or an especially beautiful one. But we pray that God will grow beautiful things in the hearts of the new neighbors who work side by side on this very hill. We are hopeful that God will make known the truth about His Son who died on another far-away hill long ago.
Another spring will come with everything it holds. Cool mornings. Rainy days. And before we know it, it will give way to the full-blown heat of summer—sunshine lengthening our days. The time to plant the seeds is past, and by God’s grace, new things will grow. The season of anticipation is with us—a season of cultivation leading to a season of hopeful harvest. We trust in the one God over all the hills and all the seasons. And we are thankful.
“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9, ESV).