Beyond A Farm
By Greg Hendrix | November 19, 2019
What happens when you plant a tiny vegetable garden in a vacant lot of South Dallas – Bonton? A bunch of lives begin to change!
I started going to Bonton about 4 years ago thinking I would be the “good Samaritan” giving help to those who are suffering in poverty. I come home from Bonton each week thinking I just received more than I gave. I go back to Bonton trusting that Jesus can unify a bunch of different folks to change the world for His glory.
Poverty is rampant, and jobs are scarce in Bonton. The area has a long history of drugs, prostitution, high crime rates, violence, and terrible health outcomes. People in Bonton have double the rate of cancer, stroke, heart disease, diabetes, and childhood obesity as the rest of Dallas County. Without supportive communities and hope, people suffering in generational poverty begin to question their worthiness and value to society.
The non-profit ministry, Bonton Farms grew out of that tiny vegetable garden and is on a mission to fight the causes and effects of poverty in their community by restoring lives, creating jobs, and igniting hope. There is now a 40-acre farm with vegetables, chickens for eggs, fruit trees, and livestock. Bonton Market Cafe opened a year ago to provide dining and local, healthy food options (think Market Street with a convenience store footprint).
Bonton Farms continues to press forward with other sustainable solutions that break the status quo with opportunities that supply jobs, build resumes, extend healthy food options, furnish affordable housing, and advance quality education through The King’s Academy.
Weekly, there is a gathering of people from throughout the Metroplex called Family Time where we grow friendships, laugh, cry, pray, and study God’s Word together. I met Matthew at Family Time and began to learn his story.
After 15 years of living on the streets, in and out of homelessness, Matthew reached a point of desperation and asked for help. He was sleeping underneath the bridges in downtown Dallas doing drugs every day. In his words, “I just couldn’t get away from it. It was so hard because I didn’t have any hope for change.” Matthew remembers asking the Lord for help.
This is where Bonton Farms and its partners like The Human Impact stepped in. Matthew didn’t want to do drugs anymore, and he needed more than one thing to come together for him to be able to leave the streets. Almost simultaneously, Matthew received a safe place to live, good mental health treatment, medications, a job, a supportive community, hope, and a deepened faith in Jesus. Matthew’s prayers were answered, and I get to see joy on my new friend’s face now.
The farm reminds me that seeds planted in good soil and nourished properly can grow to bear much fruit. Matthew reminds me that people are the same, regardless of life circumstances. I am beginning to see things much differently by investing in relationships with people rather than reading about issues and watching divisive news broadcasts. Issues now have a face with a story. These issues concern my friends who have very different life experiences than me, yet are made in the image of God just like me.
This Christmas season as you pick ornaments off our Hope for the Holiday tree at church I pray that you picture people like Matthew, that you picture more than a farm, and that you picture a God who will deliver life and hope through your gift!