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A different kind of ministry

PAULETTE BALLARD
Guest columnist

I was talking with some ladies in a coffee house last Friday, realized we were laughing loudly and turned around to apologize to the gentleman sitting at the table beside me. Jason Williams was working on his laptop and just laughed and said it was no problem because he was enjoying our conversation about my column.
He asked to speak with me when the ladies and I were through with our conversation. He then told me about a ministry being brought to the Lincolnton area.
Williams, his wife and another couple are part of an intentional Christian Community. They started their ministry in Charlotte and their goal is to help low income people learn to help feed themselves.
“We are a group of people who went to seminary together in Richmond, Va. and we are seeking a way to do a ministry that’s not just a 9-to-5 job,” he said.
They move into a low-income community and seek to learn from the people there.
“We had our ministry in Charlotte for six years and we noticed kids in the inner city didn’t know where a tomato or a banana came from,” he said. “When asked, they would respond that it came from a grocery story. We began showing them how to plant a seed, water it, watch it grow and produce fruit.  These kids were surprised to see how easy it was to grow food.
“Part of the ministry’s vision”, he said, “is to create a retreat farming center on a larger scale.”
In the last year and a half they moved into the Lincolnton area and purchased a 25-acre farm off Shoal Road and Highway 182. The plan is to bring in the urban and rural poor and provide workshops and agricultural classes which will teach them how to help themselves.  At this point, Williams referred to a quote I have heard many times — “Do you give people fish to eat one time, or do you teach them to fish and they can feed themselves for a lifetime?”
He said they are trying to teach people to fish in empowering ways.
“We want to teach people who have difficulty providing food for themselves, that they can grow it in their back yard,” he said. “This helps them provide fresh, preservative free and healthy food.”

Paulette Ballard collects interesting, funny and unusual stories from people in and around Lincolnton. If you have a story you would like to submit for her column, e-mail it to pballardnc1029@yahoo.com. In the subject line type “For your column.” Include your name and phone number for her to contact you.

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