By Thad Wilkinson

Do you like gardening? I sure do. Growing up in southern Georgia we planted a large patch every spring, and by June we’d see the first fruits. We’d be overrun with tomatoes, summer squash, peppers and corn. In our garden there would always be a wide row of zinnias. “What are those for, mama,” I once asked. In a few weeks I had my answer, as the profuse blooms became the glory of the garden. Today, we are still gardening—you and us. We plant seeds, not in the ground, but in human hearts.  We plant, not for a seasonal harvest, but for an eternal one. One of my favorite scriptures comes to mind; it’s part of Isaiah 61:3, “They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of His splendor.” So yes, we plant seeds for the Lord, and most of you know this well, but we also take great care about the manner in which we grow our garden. For this, we have some foundational principles that guide us in all things. Here are a few:

  • Strive for financial self-sufficiency on the field.

    We’ve developed orphan homes in the poorest countries on earth, countries with very small populations of Christian believers. Yet, it is of primary importance to us that our orphanages work toward total sustainability from local sources. No one knows what the future holds, and we cannot set up a situation where these communities of children are dependent on support from American Christians forever. This is our great challenge. Two of our IH orphanages (St. Vincent and Croatia) are 100% locally supported now. In Cambodia, we are currently at about 35% local support (most months) which is something we thought we wouldn’t see for decades.

  • Attack waste and extravagance.

    Unnecessary travel, conferences, hotels, and restaurant meals are viewed as sinkholes of waste in our organization. Salaries are ethically weighed and fair, but generally low. The living conditions of those we’ve been called to serve inform the life choices of our staff members. This is a voluntary and deeply spiritual commitment we make at IH.

  • Keep Christ at the center of everything.

    As a new missionary, I was dismayed to see how many people on the field called themselves missionaries (especially when fundraising) but actually did almost nothing overtly “Christian” in their work. They dug wells, took medical teams, or repaired buildings, but never was Christ even mentioned in the course of these projects. Their “Light” was as hidden as it could possibly be. We believe the Great Commission requires us to help those in need on the mission field in every way possible, but to do so as part of an effort to spread the gospel of Christ to all parts of the earth. We rescue orphaned children in His name and as we reach out to the least of these, the gospel is always proclaimed with sensitivity, boldness, clarity, and love.

  • Do all things well.

    We were blessed recently to be singled out in both Cambodia and India by secular authorities for having exceptionally well-run children’s homes. These commendations cited: clean and hygienic facilities/practices, regular access to medical care, after school tutoring, and the presence of numerous long-term caregivers in whom the children place their trust. Basics for us, but we were glad they noticed. We take care to do our jobs well, because we know “whatever we do for one of the least, we are also doing for Him.”


Dispatches from the front lines of the Mission Field

Hello Gardener

We take great care about the manner in which we grow our garden. For this, we have some foundational principles that guide us in all things.

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