dignity [dig-ni-tee]; nobility or elevation of character; worthiness.
Years ago I took a group of friends to the equatorial jungles of Borneo, where we met up with one of my heroes, named Pastor Santosa. We set off by boat on a ten day trip to navigate Borneo’s vast network of rivers to seek out villages without schools. Each morning we woke up with the sounds of the jungle filling our ears. After breakfast we boarded the boat and motored to a new village, where we set up fun and creative programs for children. We drilled wells if the people needed clean water and provided medical assistance. In each village we invited the people to come to hear a message of hope later that evening.
After several days, I noticed that Pastor Santosa always carried a plastic bag, and the bag was increasingly heavier. My curiosity grew until finally I asked him what was in his mysterious bag. With a charming grin, he showed me the answer within. All along we had been eating mangoes, oranges, guavas, watermelons, and durian. All our seeds were being tossed into the trash. Pastor Santosa gathered the seeds from the trash and planned to take them home.
Our trash has become Pastor Santosa’s treasure. Today, there are dozens of tall, fruit bearing trees around Pastor Santosa’s house. Every year he expands his garden. Mustard Seed supporters from the State of Washington helped Pastor Santosa purchase more land. Not only has this land been used for educational purposes. But he has cleared the jungle and planted several thousand fruit trees. Now, this amazing leader harvests and sells the fruit, supports his family, and is even now beginning to use the funds to run the schools.
In the past when I visited Pastor Santosa I needed to be very careful to reimburse him for his hospitality. I was visiting a man who had almost nothing. He was barely surviving off of the funds that were sent to him by Mustard Seed to run the Christian schools in the villages of Kalimantan. Now, when I go to visit Pastor Santosa and his wife Leah, they refuse to take my money. Leah is an amazing cook. She serves me delicious meals and we all eat together with much joy and laughter.
In Mustard Seed, we are not out to control anyone. We are not trying to establish our own little Mustard Seed kingdom. We are intent and focused on bringing genuine hope, and that hope comes through freedom. Our gift to humanity is a transformative Christian education. People are learning to rise up through poverty, to utilize the resources around them, to become leaders, and ignite a revolution of hope. Everything Mustard Seed does is purposefully designed to inspire independent thinking which results in “nobility, and elevation of character; worthiness.” Through our humble little schools in villages around Indonesia, little boys and girls are receiving a precious gift.