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June 7, 2023 / by Julie Horton

When I first started gardening, I was amazed by how one tiny zucchini seed could grow and flourish to produce an abundance of zucchini squash. You may have been the recipient of some of my yield over the years.

Just over a decade ago, I began gardening with my friend at new Community Garden in One Normal Plaza just off Beech street. If you know the area, it is adjacent to the Old Soldiers & Sailors campus and behind the community center.

Over the years, we’ve gotten to know many other community members who are passionate about gardening and return to their same plot every season.

After learning more about neighboring in recent years here at East White Oak, my friend and I began to view our garden community as an extension of our neighborhood mission field. We started looking for ways to apply the principles learned at church to this community.

So, we prayed. We invited God to be the gardener of this space. We spent time prayer-walking around the garden. We asked the Lord to guide and direct us and to open up opportunities for us to plant eternal seeds of hope and to recognize when these divine opportunities were made available.

Julie’s Garden

Little by little, we starting building relationships with many of the gardeners. We would keep track of their names in our phones and whenever we learned more about them, we’d add that info, to have available for times of prayer at home.

The Lord has faithfully provided quite a yield of relationship-building, Gospel-conversations, and other practical ways to serve our garden community. We even ended last season with a garden party.

We look forward to cultivating and deepening these relationships yet again this season; trusting the Lord to grow these planted seeds of faith over time.


Julie and her husband Brad have attended East White Oak for over 25 years. Their daughters, Ashleigh (19) and Lexi (15) are active in the church as well. She serves on the missions team and helps with AWANA and the music ministry. Julie spends a lot of her time teaching various levels of Spanish to her students at Normal Community High School and enjoys reading and walking in her free time.