“So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey …” Exodus 3:8.
Honey has been associated with God’s abundant provision for his people from the time of the Exodus to John the Baptist, who was known to eat locusts and wild honey. The Bible has many references to goodness and delight accompanying God’s delivery of this remarkable food.
I remember, when I was a small child in Papua New Guinea, curling up under my dressing table to peer through the bedroom window to see my parents welcoming mission workers who came to town from isolated villages in our region. Supporting God’s frontline workers has been a part of our family DNA. I always thought I, too, would be one of those workers. This dream of serving in remote areas could not be realised, however, when our youngest child was born with significant health issues. Instead, my husband and I were convicted of the importance of partnering with those who were serving.
An unused, original Flow Hive that my husband found on eBay in 2016 was the beginning of an exciting new direction for partnership. I had been thinking about the importance of our role as Christians in the stewardship of our environment …“The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it” (Gen 2:15). I took a beekeeping course at a farm near my home in regional NSW and came home with a queen bee and a nucleus. Bees are crucial to the sustainability of our world ecosystems and responsible beekeeping was one way we could contribute to good stewardship.
The rate of honey production astounded me. A hive of bees works almost like a single organism with remarkable efficiency and precision. Those bees started producing at least 3kg a week of delicious nectar. Each frame is emptied separately in this system so the honey from each frame tasted different—sometimes fruity, sometimes aniseed. What were we going to do with all this honey? It was far more than I could share with family and friends.
At that time our church was supporting mission workers who had established a carpentry school in Tanzania. They needed to provide half scholarships for students from families whose income was limited, so I decided to sell some honey specifically to support a student who had no parents and no means of income. As it turned out, people loved the idea and my honey provided the student with full board, lodging and education for two years.
When this project was complete, I looked for other ways to continue to responsibly use the gift God had given me through my bees. I found an Interserve Tangible Love project in Cambodia that struck a chord. It was supporting workers who enabled street people to receive rehabilitation from drug addiction and to access pathways to employment.
Later I diversified into using a traditional hive and making reusable beeswax wraps for food storage from the wax from the honeycomb. The sale of these beeswax wraps raised yet more funds for mission.
Kingdom gardening has not only been a unique way for me to support God’s work; it has also opened opportunities for me to speak to people in my own community about the creative and successful work Christians are doing to support less privileged communities. It has provided me with an easy opening to speak of my faith and of the Biblical direction to be responsible for the environment.
This is kingdom gardening and tangible love in partnership.
Kirsti is a mum, a beekeeper and a mission supporter. She lives in regional NSW.