Born in Nigeria and raised in West Africa, Blessing Oluloto realized early in life that work is most meaningful when the motivation is to serve God and elevate the needs of others above your own. The daughter of expat missionaries, Oluloto has seen firsthand the beauty of vocation in action, which inspired her to major in honours politics: international development. Eager to put this into practice right away, Oluloto began volunteering at West Highland Church in Hamilton and became involved with the King’s Garden.
Oluloto has been a member of West Highland for three years. Last year, she applied for a posting for a summer outreach intern position, a role that allowed her to become more acquainted with the community and develop a deeper connection with it. As the church cancelled its summer programs due to the pandemic, her primary focus became the King’s Garden. As stated on West Highland’s website, this initiative, “grows fresh produce to help the needy in Hamilton, using a volunteer workforce to supply local food banks, soup kitchens as well as identified individuals and families.” Additionally, they rent out garden plots to nearby community members.
With limited gardening experience, Oluloto assisted wherever she could, tilling soil, seeding, weeding, watering and harvesting vegetables. During the process she learned that gardening “is not for sissies,” and gained an understanding of the true cost of food. This not only helped to prove the importance of her efforts, but it also reinforced her Christian ideals. “I enjoyed working at the garden because I knew that the work of my hands served the needs of another.” Beyond her gardening duties, she made sure to include ministry at the centre of her work, leading devotionals and prayer and closely connecting with those she met.
Oluloto not only saw how God was working through her in the lives of others, but how God was working in her own life. Now that the season has come and gone, Oluloto says, “Nothing happens haphazardly. I think the Lord sent me there this summer for a specific reason. The garden gave me permission to slow down and honour the simplicity of life.” Though it was hard work, the garden offered Oluloto a peace that contrasted with the despair of the media and the chaos of the world, and, in addition to providing vegetables, gave her an opportunity to nourish her mind and soul.
Nothing happens haphazardly. I think the Lord sent me there this summer for a specific reason. The garden gave me permission to slow down and honour the simplicity of life.
Gardening is slow going, something that cannot be rushed, and that requires both time and dedication. Oluloto recalls Ecclesiastes 3:11, “He has made everything beautiful in its time,” a verse her mom used to recite to her, but one she never truly understood until working in the King’s Garden. “Every stage of the gardening process is beautiful and valuable. Every row of vegetables has a specific purpose for its existence. No one plant grows at the same rate as another, yet they both give fruit that is nourishment for someone.”
Oluloto says these principles apply not just to gardening, but to her life as well. He has made each of us unique with our own purpose and calling. Just as with gardening, our walk with God is a long process, but we must trust that God is nurturing us and tilling us into something greater.
“Enjoy the seasons you find yourself in; do your best to grow at your own pace; enjoy the sun, ingest nutritious content for your body and mind and you just might be surprised at how much fruit your life will yield,” she says.
An inspirational message today, and every day.