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From: Directions to Orthodoxy http://directionstoorthodoxy.org

Clapping Trees
by George Strickland, Editor
"All the trees of the field will clap their hands" Is 55:12

I know a place where the trees are clapping their hands.

They stand in one of the world's most fertile deltas, the Rio Grande, where centuries of flooding have deposited layers of rich soil. Located in Hildago County, Texas, farmers grow some of the sweetest grapefruit and oranges, onions, and melons, cotton, sugar cane, and virtually every crop vegetable you can name. It is also the location of St. George the Great Martyr Orthodox Church (OCA), Pharr, close to the Mexican border. The Holy Spirit has given a bountiful harvest of souls and a growing diverse, multiethnic church.

Ironically, there is poverty aplenty in one of the fastest growing counties in the country. These economic problems have a spiritual impact. Amidst burgeoning business and industry brought about by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), thousands of Latino agricultural workers and laborers languish in poverty and deplorable living conditions. With little income, these people are unable to take
advantage of the seeming promise of Hildgao County, and hope fails. St. George struggles financially as it spreads God's Word among the people.

What would you do if your community and parish faced such obstacles? Your best option might be to pray for a miracle. Well, in answer to many prayers a miracle is developing in Hildago. Fr. Antonio Perdomo and members of St. George are transforming lives, ministering to the needs of the poor. In 2004 St. George will
celebrate its 25th anniversary of ministry. Trees clap their hands, bringing glory to God. As lives are changed, more trees add to the applause. Someday, to paraphrase Is 55:13, "Instead of thornbush will grow the avocado and grapefruit and instead of briers oranges and melons groves will grow. This will be for the LORD' s renown, for an
everlasting sign, which will not be destroyed."

Economic improvements in this land of promise will have a spiritual impact. Young adults will remain, find jobs, get training and raise families. The Church will prosper and be able to support other churches. The seed of God's Word will be broadcast further than ever before.

And so will be fulfilled the combination nature-mission promise of Is.55:10-12:

"As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish,...so is my word that goes out from my mouth: it will not return to me empty, but accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountain and the hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands."

For Further Study

Study all of Is. 55. Why does the Holy Spirit include nature's rapturous celebration in this high mission-oriented chapter? In what other locations on earth is God working miracles of nature and mission at the same time?


Orthodox and Ecumenical News

Baltimore, Md. (IOCC) - Three weeks after responding to the
devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina along the U.S. Gulf Coast,
IOCC Emergency Response personnel have begun preparations in Texas in
anticipation of the arrival of Hurricane Rita.

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¬°Gloria a Dios por todo!
Direct your Questions, Comments or Feedback to (Por favor dirigir sus preguntas, dudas o comentarios al): 956-781-6114 or info@stgeorgepantry.org

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