by Christine Berglund

Cattle panels, that should do it. Since my seemingly illogical decision to do some tomato canning this year, we have planted 27 tomato plants in our little backyard.

When you have this many tomatoes, you don’t want them sprawling all over the ground, especially since that ground is home to hundreds of hungry snails.

This raised the question of how to support that many tomato plants. I didn’t want to struggle with those flimsy wire cages that won’t even go into my stony soil here.

It has been my experience that as soon as the plants are big enough to produce fruit, the cage collapses and the brittle stems break, making a mess and spoiling the harvest.

Several friends made suggestions, and I opted for our old standby, with a new twist. We will tie together two lengths of cattle fence, a sturdy metal panel with large 4″ square holes through which to pick tomatoes. Set about 2 feet apart at the base, the resulting “tent” should withstand wind and the weight of two rows of plants.

The heavy wire from which the panels are made is not so thin that they will cut or dig into the stems of the plants, and the panels are tall enough that the top part of the plants will still be supported.

Oh, yeah; I can taste the homemade spaghetti sauce already!

We talk quite a bit about supporting our preachers and missionaries, but I wonder if we give them the same consideration as our vegetables?

I could have used the little cylindrical cages again, and felt good about it while the tomatoes were young. In fact, as I was moving one of those away from a two-foot plant today, the young vine flopped over onto the ground in a quick, helpless motion. Oops, I hadn’t counted that it needing significant support already!

Sometimes the word “support” is used synonymously with “money” when it comes to our church workers. In reality, they need much more than a paycheck, although let’s not neglect that!

And while we are on that subject, it’s a shame that the monetary support does not often continue past a few years, and then precious time is spent away from the work so that support can be raised, again.

Some of our hardest working preachers and their equally dedicated families live in areas that are very discouraging. They can surely use a word of encouragement, by mail, email, or whatever means necessary. Let them know we appreciate their efforts!

Even the Bible Belt can be disheartening for some, especially those who have not come from Christian families. Where will they go when the going gets rough? To whom can they turn besides each other and to the Lord in prayer?

If you know of someone like that, support them. It means the world to them, and could save a particularly effective worker from quitting. You never know how much this could mean.

In Exodus 17, the account is told of how Israel defended herself against the attacking Amalekites. Moses, the most humble man on earth (Numbers 12:3) held up his rod for encouragement to the armies.

The Israelites prevailed only while Moses had his rod lifted. Those arms grew weary but Aaron and Hur supported them.

Hold up these workers in prayer, too. By name. Many of them have sacrificed an easier life to work as “fishers of men.” If you haven’t done that, please take time to pray for those that have. If you have done the same, you know how important this is, so keep praying and encouraging!

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